How To Import and Use OVA Virtual Machine Image Files in Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager

Oracle VM VirtualBox is a popular open-source virtualization software that allows you to run multiple virtual machines (VMs) on a single physical machine. Using VirtualBox, you can easily import and run pre-configured VMs packaged as Open Virtualization Format (OVF) or Open Virtual Appliance (OVA) files.

What are OVF and OVA Files

OVF and OVA files are industry-standard formats used to distribute software appliances and virtual machines.

  • OVF: An XML file that contains metadata about the VM, such as name, operating system, CPU, memory, disk space, network configuration etc.
  • OVA: A single archive file, typically with a .ova extension, containing the OVF description file and the virtual disks and other files that make up the virtual appliance.

So in short, an OVA file packages all the VM files into one distributable file.

Benefits of Using OVA Files

There are several benefits of using pre-configured OVA virtual appliances:

  • Easy deployment: OVA files allow you to easily import and deploy complex VM configurations without going through tedious installation and configuration steps.
  • Portability: You can easily import OVA files across different virtualization platforms like VMware, VirtualBox etc. This makes migration between environments simple.
  • Sharing: OVA files can be easily downloaded and shared allowing you to quickly replicate configurations across teams.

Importing an OVA file into VirtualBox

Follow these steps to import an OVA VM image into Oracle VM VirtualBox:

  1. Download the OVA file you wish to import.
  2. Open the Oracle VM VirtualBox application.
  3. Click on File > Import Appliance. Import Appliance Menu
  4. In the file dialog, navigate to the downloaded OVA file, select it and click Open. Select OVA File
  5. You will now see import settings for the OVA. Here you can configure VM settings like name, type, memory size etc. OVA Import Settings
  6. Once you have verified the settings, click Import to import the OVA. The import process may take a few minutes depending on the OVA size.
  7. When the import finishes, you will see the new virtual machine in your VirtualBox manager. You can start, stop and manage the VM just like any other machine.

Tips for Importing OVA Files

Here are some useful tips when working with OVA files:

  • Make sure you have enough storage space for the virtual disks contained in the OVA archive.
  • For better performance, place the imported VMs on a fast storage like an SSD rather than a mechanical hard drive.
  • If your imported VM is slow, try increasing the CPU cores and memory allocated to the machine.
  • If you run into any issues importing an OVA, check the VirtualBox log files for errors.
  • On Linux hosts, you may need to install dkms package to provide kernel support for VirtualBox guest additions.

Converting Existing VMs to OVA

If you have an existing VM in VirtualBox that you wish to export for portability or sharing purposes, you can easily convert it to an OVA file by:

  1. Right click on the Virtual Machine and select Export Appliance.
  2. Select export settings like file location, format (OVA recommended) and other options.
  3. Click on Export to create the OVA package.

The exported OVA file will contain all the VM data and can be easily shared and imported.


Using OVA appliance files is a great way to simplify deployment and improve portability of virtual machines. With just a few clicks, you can import complex VM systems into VirtualBox instead of having to manually install and configure each software component.

As you can see, Oracle VM VirtualBox provides excellent support for industry standard OVF and OVA formats. So leverage this functionality to easily evaluate and deploy pre-configured virtual appliances from vendors or share VM templates across your teams!

Let me know if you have any other questions! I have over 5 years of experience using VirtualBox and VMware to manage virtual machines and can provide guidance on best practices.