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I've got four guest OS (2 Window XP, 1 Ubuntu VM, 1 FreeNAS) with guest additions installed on each, hosted on an Ubuntu server (12.10) using a headless VirtualBox (4.2.6r82870) setup.

Currently, I'm using the FreeNAS server (512MB, ~2.5TB)to share between XP and Linux hosts, but I'm wondering if this is just overkill on my host resources (AMD 1045T, 8GB). Would it be better to just create a separate partition on the host dedicated to hosting these files, and then use VB's shared folders ability? Since FreeNAS and its storage is a VM itself, I'm essentially hosting the files on the host system regardless.

Specifically, I'm processing large files (>500MB) and would like to optimize for that. What are some of the drawbacks to the current setup above, and what would be better given the goals in mind?

Many thanks for any advice!

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In my (humble) opinion, creating a share in a Windows environment is the easieast. Long live the wizard. However, my confidence level is not that of an answer and am curious with what others come up with – hydroparadise Jan 14 '13 at 17:46
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Install Samba on the Ubuntu host and share "natively", without any virtualization overhead. You will likely get higher network throughput via native Ubuntu drivers, ie with help of hardware TCP offloading (depends on the network card though).

The benefit of using samba over virtualbox' shared folders is that you can access the samba (Windows) network share from any VM or physical machine, runing Windows, Mac or Linux.

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I don't think you can install FreeNAS as a service on Ubuntu (or other distro). AFAIK, it's standalone distribution, based on FreeBSD if memory serves. Samba is not really an option for me (it tends to be rather slow performance wise, although it can benefit from tuning). – Prophet60091 Mar 25 '14 at 23:22
Samba is common (not FreeNAS specific) service that allows to share files/folders over network, using the SMB protocol. It's natively used in Windows Network Sharing and is implemented in Linux in samba. – Alec Istomin Mar 26 '14 at 15:05
I parsed your answer incorrectly. I now see what you're getting at. I'm going to accept your answer, since it seems that outside of using the "shared folder" option (a la VirtualBox), I believe Samba is basically the only way to do Linux <-> Windows file sharing. – Prophet60091 Mar 26 '14 at 18:41
I clarified (removed the FreeNAS reference), samba is the key here. – Alec Istomin Mar 26 '14 at 19:47

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