It confuses me about NAT networking, but I can use VMware and Parallels Desktop to do that.

I knew NAT how it works, just need an explain about this situation.

The following is from official documents. Why HOST can't connect GUEST with NAT. enter image description here

  • 1
    Are you talking about VirtualBox or VMWare? They are completely different softwares.
    – user766703
    Jan 5 '18 at 7:08
  • 1
    Why need NAT between VM and host ? It's not logical.
    – Overmind
    Jan 5 '18 at 7:17
  • 1
    @ThePirateBay In my opinion, these virtual platforms should have the same behavior with NAT mode. Does it depend on different softwares?
    – TonyY
    Jan 5 '18 at 7:33
  • 1
    @Overmind I just curious about I always use default mode(NAT) at VMware and Parallels, and I can use HOST to connect GUEST. When I change to use Virtualbox, it didn't work, then I must change to Bridged or Host-only mode.
    – TonyY
    Jan 5 '18 at 7:46
  • 1
    "Does it depend on different softwares?" - I can't tell, as the VMWare is not open-source, but in general, yes, software can change NAT behavior. Therefore, the software you're using is an important information.
    – user766703
    Jan 5 '18 at 7:48

If you want to connect to the guest machine from the host, using NAT Network:

First, create a NAT Network - create the network in the VirtualBox Manager, File -> Preferences -> Network, and give it a name.

Assign that named NAT Network to each of the guest machines in their Network configurations in VirtualBox.

Make a note of what IP address is assigned to your guest machines when you run them. It will be something like or In Posix systems, run "ifconfig" and see what ip addresses show up for em0. Make a record of which address goes to which guest machine.

Edit the NAT Network's port forwarding. In VirtualBox manager, go to File -> Preferences -> Network and click the edit button for the NAT Network you are using. Click on Port Forwarding. Add rules that forward ports on your host machine to ip address + port on the guests (You don't need to set the IP address for your host machine, that's optional).

  • 4
    after you add that rule you need to restart VirtualBox (and thus your VM) - virtualbox should then be listening on port 2222 and you connect to your guest via your hosts IP, not the guest IP e.g. (not ! )
    – wal
    Jun 22 '19 at 12:01
  • see also this image of the port forwarding (which was rejected as an edit to this answer by the nasty powers-that-be)
    – wal
    Jun 22 '19 at 13:55

I know this is old, but the topic is relevant still, and I don't think I've seen this response yet, so here goes... I came to this thread with the same question. Then I thought about it for a bit and realized an ideal solution that is easy to implement.

Add a second interface!!

One is the NAT interface for the VM to talk to the Internet. The other is a host-only interface. In my case, I'm installing a CentOS guest OS. The new interface shows up, both get their IPs on the respective networks. The host-only doesn't establish a default route, so no conflicts. It just works. I access the guest OS openly from the host using the IP on the host-only network that is defined within VirtualBox.

  • I confirm this works on VirtualBox 5.2.20 with a CentOS 6 and Windows 7 VM (testing old IEs). As long as the adapters are on the same named "Host-only Adapter", it should just work.
    – spyle
    Jan 9 '20 at 21:20
  • No luck for me with VirtualBox for MacOS and Ubuntu Bionic guest. The guest is given an IP address via DHCP in the range, but there is no way to reach this network from the host. There is no way to edit host-only networks in the preferences pane. Jan 14 '20 at 21:23
  • Thanks for the answer. It is the simplest solution of all Jul 9 '20 at 13:01
  • 1
    Best answer! Others don't work. Jan 15 at 12:44
  • Simplest operable answer. Adding forwarded ports also consumes the host's ports. Mar 22 at 13:28

It seems the official documentation has been improved to make it clearer of which direction the communication occurs, as I discovered from this answer:

Overview of networking modes


To connect from HOST to GUEST VM with NAT networking, just add a port forward.

After that, you can access the forwarded port like a local port:

ssh root@localhost

enter image description here

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.