Beware the new VirtualBox 4.0.2 upgrade!

I am and have been a huge fan of the powerful Oracle (formerly Sun) VirtualBox, but if you use VirtualBox and want it to continue to work well, wait a bit before upgrading to the shiny new version 4. As with most big upgrades, this one took 1 step forward, 2 steps back, and a step sideways:

Forward: The new user interface is a significant improvement and I look forward to the day I can use it properly. (Bonus half step forward: the new architecture with separate extensions seems to be a good idea, but is perhaps not trouble-free yet.)

Sideways: (This problem existed in the 3.2 releases as well, so is not new.) I use a Windows 7/32 guest on a Windows 7/64 host, and if I enable both the 3D and 2D graphics acceleration, the guest Windows crashes right as it reaches the high-res login screen. This seems to be an interaction with current NVIDIA drivers, as it only started happening a month or two ago when I updated to the latest drivers for my GTX280 card.

Back 1: I need to use USB flash drives a lot, and there was nothing I could do to get VirtualBox 4.0.2 to mount my flash drive in the guest OS. Even after installing the extension that provides USB 2.0 support (perhaps the UI should prompt for that if USB 2.0 is enabled and it is missing), the VB driver captured the drive from the host (it disappeared from My Computer), but any attempts to mount it in the host were met with an error dialog from VB. I tried deleting and recreating the filter to no avail. The latest Guest Extensions were installed (see below), yet nothing proved able to mount the flash drive.

Back 2 (half step): In order for the new Guest Extensions to install Direct3D support (which I don’t really use, but install anyway because I like the idea of having it available), you have to reboot the guest into Safe Mode and install the Guest Extensions. While this ends up working, it’s an unusual and annoying step.

So my solution was to revert back to VirtualBox 3.2.12, which works just fine. My flash drive mounts without trouble and I can insert it as needed.

I tried to check the forums for the solution to any of these problems, but was unable to search the forum, so didn’t see these specific problems amidst the active discussions.

I want to be clear that I think VirtualBox is a good thing and this post is just warning people that the latest version is not trouble-free. I have no doubt that in another update or two, it will be superior to the old 3.2 version and meet all my needs. Keep of the good work Oracle and VB devs!

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