VirtualBox Networking Modes

A brief comparison of networking modes in Oracle Virtualbox.


  • NAT(Network Address Translation) mode is the default mode when you spin up a new virtual machine(vm) on virtual box.
  • This mode allows the vm to communicate with the ‘internet’ by using the host machine as a proxy
Figure 1: Virtualbox default networking mode
  • Communication to the vm can be made by configuring port forwarding through the vritualbox GUI or a CLI tool such as Vagrant.
# Example (using vagrant) "forwarded_port", guest: 22, host: 2222
  • This means all traffic to port 2222 on the host will be forwarded to port 22 of the vm.

NAT Network

  • Instead of creating a virtual NAT engine for each vm, Virtualbox creates one NAT engine is used for all vms as illustrated below:
Source: VirtualBox Network Settings: Complete Guide
  • As it is shown above, the vms can communicate to each other and as well as the ‘internet’.

Internal or Private Network

  • This mode allows the vms to be completely isolated from the host and the ‘internet’.
  • That is unlike NAT network mode, communication only occurs among the vms connected to the internal network.

Host Only Network

  • In this mode, a Virtual Ethernet adapter is used to allow the host and the vms to communicate directly.
  • The vms cannot communicate with any external network in this mode

Hybrid or Bridge Network

  • In this mode the vm acts as a physical device connected to your network
  • Basically, this is similar to buying a new computer and connecting it to your home or office network.



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