VirtualBox 6.0 / 5.2 - Clone a virtual machine (VM)

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When you install an operating system in a virtual machine or in other cases, it may be interesting to make a copy of a virtual machine.
For this, VirtualBox offers 2 types of cloning : full and linked.

  1. Full clone
  2. Linked clone

1. Full clone

To begin, we will create a complete copy of a virtual machine.
To do this, select your virtual machine and right click "Clone" on it.

Specify a name for the new virtual machine and check the box if you want to reset the MAC address of the different network adapters used by this virtual machine.

Note : the MAC address is a physical address that is supposed to be unique for each network card. It's therefore strongly recommended to check this box if you want to use these 2 virtual machines (the original one + its copy) simultaneously.

Since VirtualBox 6.0, you will be able to choose :

  • Name : the name of the destination virtual machine
  • Path : its location
  • MAC Address Policy : the policy to use for the MAC address of its network adapters
  • Keep Disk Names : to keep the names of virtual disks or not
  • Keep Hardware UUIDs : to keep Hardware UUIDs or not

For the policy about MAC addresses, you will have the choice between :

  • Include all network adapter MAC addresses : keeps the MAC address set on each virtual network adapter in your virtual machine
  • Include only NAT network adapter MAC addresses : same as previous setting, but only for virtual network adapters configured in NAT mode.
  • Generate new MAC addresses for all network adapters : generates new MAC addresses for all virtual network adapters in your virtual machine.
    This is recommended if the copy of this virtual machine will be connected to the same network. Otherwise, the original virtual machine and its copy will conflict, because they will not be unique on your network.

For the type of clone, you will have the possibility to create :

  • a full clone : it's a complete copy of the virtual machine (its configuration + associated virtual hard disks).
  • a linked clone : the new virtual machine will be based on the virtual hard disk of the original virtual machine and save the new data in a new virtual hard disk of : differential type.

In this case, we select : Full clone.

When you want to clone a machine, you can choose between :

  • the current state of the machine : this will allow you to create a new virtual machine that will match the current state of the original virtual machine (but without the snapshots you might have created in the meantime)
  • all : this will allow you to create a new virtual machine while keeping the different snapshots that you may have done in the meantime.

In our case, we will simply copy the current state of our virtual machine.

Since this is a full clone, VirtualBox will also create a copy of the virtual hard disks used by your virtual machine.
This can take a lot of time depending on the size of these and the performance of your physical computer.

Now we have 2 virtual machines running Windows 7.