Resolving Slow Guest Networking With VirtualBox

At home I use VirtualBox to host some different operating systems on our Macs. VirtualBox is probably the last free VM software for the Mac OS, and it works very well.

I was struggling with a Windows host and just some horrid networking throughput. I then discovered VirtIO networking drivers. I wasn’t aware of these in many years of using VirtualBox, so I thought a post here would be in order.

VirtualBox added support some time ago for VirtIO networking drivers as used by kvm/Linux, and honestly I didn’t notice because I was just updating VirtualBox and not paying attention to what was new.

These offer the best throughput for virtual machines and have been included with Linux distributions for quite some time. Whereas the previously recommend drivers were the Intel PRO/1000 MT Desktop or Intel Pro/1000 T Server, which would get you up to 1GB speeds, the VirtIO drivers are full 10GB drivers. If you’re doing any sharing with your host OS via network shares this really makes a difference, especially when you add SSDs into the mix.

Unfortunately, when running Windows in a guest VM, it won’t know what drivers to use when you have that adapter type selected in your VirtualBox configuration. Fortunately, RedHat maintains signed Windows drives that you can download and install within Windows.

Download ’em and enjoy your fast networking!

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