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How to enable Hyper-V USB passthrough

Olga Weis Olga Weis
Nov 26, 2021

In this article, we will consider two different ways of forwarding USB devices from a host PC to a Hyper-V virtual machine and compare the pros and cons of each method. If you are not ready for a long read, just start sharing USB in Hyper-V in a few clicks with USB Network Gate. Otherwise, read on to know more.

access a USB in Hyper-V

The simplest method to enable Hyper-V USB passthrough

USB Network Gate is a USB software designed as a client-server software. This tool allows a server machine to share access to USB devices (like printers) with other machines on the same network (or via a Virtual Machine.) When sharing is successful, the USB software allows client machines to access, control, and manage the USB devices as if they were plugged physically into their own computer.

Note: Any machine connected with a network can act as a server computer

access USB in Hyper-V

Now we’ll cover how to use USB Network Gate to access Hyper-V USB devices. The following Hyper-V USB passthrough server method can be completed in 4 simple steps:

Install USB_Network_Gate.exe on both host and guest computers
Allow the app to automatically install on your device.
While operating the Virtual Machine(VM) open the USB Network Gate app and find any shared Hyper-V USB devices
Click “Connect”
That’s it!

Using USB Network Gate to mount and access Hyper-V USB devices to a Virtual Machine is easy, fast, and convenient.

Users will find their USB peripherals in the Virtual Machine’s Device Manager window, allowing them to access the devices with the same level of control they would experience if the device was physically connected to the computer they’re physically working from.

The pros and cons of using USB Network Gate to access a USB in Hyper-V:

icon pros Pros.

  • Compatibility with multiple platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac);
  • Stable USB connections;
  • Requires minimal configuration to work across the network;
  • Supports virtually any USB device.

icon cons Cons.

  • USB redirection requires network connectivity;
  • The software isn’t free.

Video tutorial to access USB in Hyper-V

Access Android remotely over Network

Windows Hyper-V client

In this section, we’ll cover how to enable Windows 10 Hyper-V client for Hyper-V USB passthrough. Users can virtualize their local resources (such as USB ports and hard drives) when connecting their Hyper-V virtual machine, and a host computer using Remote Desktop Protocol(RDP).

Users can also permit device access to guest operating systems as well.

The RDP option is a great method for anyone using a Windows OS configuration. Users can find their Windows 10 Hyper-V USB passthrough feature within Remote Desktop Connection—under the “Client options”.

Follow the steps below:

When operating the host machine:

Step 1: Hit Win+R to open the “Run” window.

Step 2: Type “gpedit.msc” within the window—which will open the computer’s group policy settings.

Step 3: Navigate as follows:
Computer configuration > Administrative templates > Windows Components > Remote Desktop Services > Remote Desktop Connection Client > RemoteFX USB Device Redirection.

Step 4: Choose the available GPO (there should only be one) and enable it—this alters the access right to “Administrators and Users”.

When operating the Virtual Machine(VM):

Step 1: Hit “Win+R”.

Step 2: Type “gpedit.msc” and hit “Enter”—users can follow the same process via PowerShell (poweshell.exe).

Step 3: Navigate as follows:
Computer configuration > Administrative templates > Windows Components > Remote Desktop Services > Remote Desktop Session Host > Device and Resource Redirection.

Step 4: Choose GPO "Do not allow supported Plug and Play device redirection" and disable it to use PnP devices on a Virtual Machine.

Step 5: Reboot both computers.

From here, users can easily redirect any device to their Virtual Machine(VM). Once the user connects, a third icon will appear beside the Connection icon. Hit the icon to choose any local device for redirection to a VM.

Advantages and disadvantages of RDP session in Hyper-V:

icon pros Pros.

  • Configured USB pass-through options are applied automatically as soon as an RDP connection is established;
  • USB redirection is totally independent of the hypervisor;
  • Group policy lets control and limit USB connections.

icon cons Cons.

  • Hyper-V USB device can be accessed only within RDP session;
  • Not all USB devices are supported;
  • Low data transfer speed;
  • Works only with Windows operating systems.
USB Network Gate
Work with USB peripherals in Hyper-V virtual machine

Server-side Hyper-V USB passthrough (SCSI controller)

A user cannot access USB peripherals attached to a local PC while working in Hyper-V virtual machine. To resolve this challenge, you need to either resort to the help of some dedicated third-party tools or look for a workaround among features of your host OS.

SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) controllers give virtual machines access to SCSI disks. From a virtual SCSI controller a maximum of 64 devices can be supported. Multiple disks attached to a single controller will provide optimal performance. Here we will let you know how to how to install a USB drive as a virtual hard drive:

  1. Right-click on your Hyper-V server, choose New > Hard Disk, or do the same from Actions menu; follow the instructions.

  2. When prompted enter a name for your drive, click Next.

  3. Choose ‘Copy the content of the specified physical disk’ and enter the details to identify the disk.
    Copying the content of the removable storage and creating the USB.vhd file might take a while, it depends on its size. The amount of free space does not matter, a vhd file is created with the entire size of the removable storage.

  4. Choose Settings on your virtual machine, select SCSI Controller – see the left pane; select Hard drive – see the right pane, click Add. SCSI Controller
  5. Click Browse and choose to open the vhd file to which you mounted your removable storage. Your removable storage should be displayed as a drive.

If ‘My Computer’ does not show it as a removable storage, it might be because the drive is offline. To check it, go to your VM, right-click Computer, choose ‘Manage’ or ‘Administrative Tools’ and go to Computer Management.

Expand Storage and select Disk Management. Red arrow icon means that the disk is offline, right-click the disk and in the context menu displayed select Online. Once your disk gets Online status, a drive letter will be assigned to it.

There are certain drawbacks to this method: you will have to reproduce the entire actions sequence for each USB drive connected to your Hyper-V virtual environment. As we already mentioned, creating a vhd file might consume some time, it directly depends on the size of your USB disk.

How to make a USB recognizable in Hyper-V

Passthrough USB in Hyper-V with Enhanced Session Mode

An Enhanced session is a special mode that allows users to link their VMConnect.exe app with a VMBus component on a host computer. In its most simplistic terms, enabling Enhanced Session mode allows the “guest” OS to instantaneously access all local devices (such as SCSI controllers, USB dongles, and so on.)

This is also possible via USB redirection using an Ethernet connection. Users can access both the devices attached to the host, as well as devices connected to other machines sharing the same network.

Enhanced Sessions are integral in numerous situations where VMs must communicate with local resources without having access to network connectivity.

Below are a series of examples where Enhanced Sessions are beneficial:

  • Printing Capabilities: Users can transmit files directly from a VM to a local printer
  • Authentication Efficiency: Enhanced Sessions allow users to log into VMs using their smart card and a local USB dongle or USB card reader
  • Debugging Support: Enhanced Sessions can help remedy numerous VM-related problems without a network connection

Additionally, software and hardware developers love using Hyper-V USB passthrough—especially with Windows-compatible products. Enhanced Session mode even improves the speed and ease of USB app testing and debugging while using a VM.

USB in Hyper-V
Passthrough your USB devices to Hyper-V

How to enable Hyper-V Enhanced Session Mode

Like VMware workstations, enabling Hyper-V Enhanced Session Mode doesn’t force users to download extra libraries/components when using Hyper-V on Windows. The only necessity is for users who want to enable Hyper-V 2012 r2 USB passthrough, is that they must tweak their Hyper-V configuration.

Follow the steps to enable the Enhanced Session Mode Windows 10 Hyper-V client:

Step 1: Open the Hyper-V Manager (frequently located in C:\Windows\System32)

Step 2: Select the Hyper-V server that will have Enhanced Session Mode enabled

Step 3: Click “Hyper-V Settings”

Hyper-V settings

Step 4: Enable server settings within the Enhanced Session Mode Policy, click the checkbox beside “Allow enhanced session mode”.

Please note: The above setting configuration will be applied to any and all VMs operating under the Hyper-V host machine.

Please note: Enabling the ‘Allow enhanced session mode’ setting dictates whether guest VMs can use enhanced session mode.

Enhanced Session Mode

Step 5: Once enabled, Hyper-V permits Enhanced Session Mode — but only under specific conditions

For those seeking to establish a USB passthrough on a Linux OS, enabling Enhanced Session Mode — or utilizing a USB software like USB Network Gate — are two suitable solutions.

But what sets USB Network Gate apart from the traditional native passthrough method, is its exceptional flexibility. UNG isn’t held back by device limitations (like brand, type, form, or shape.)

Users don’t need to struggle with constant lag from redirected PnP devices, allowing them to pass through a USB hub more easily and quickly than the standard features that come with MS Hyper-V.

Enhance Session Mode requirements

  • The Virtual Machine’s operating system must support Enhanced Session Mode
  • Remote Desktop Service is running on the Virtual Machine
  • Enhanced Session Mode connections are requested by the Virtual Machine’s Connection tool

Users implement Enhanced Session Mode to configure their user settings. Enabling the ESM setting lets the Virtual Machine Connection tool utilize Enhanced Session Mode (when available via the guest VM.)

This means that users automatically get access to local USB peripherals without the need for extra USB redirection tools.

Follow the below conditions to use Enhanced Session Mode with your setup:

  • Virtual Machine guest operating systems much support Enhanced Session Mode.
  • The guest must actively run Remote Desktop Service.
  • Ensure “Allow Enhanced Session Mode” must be enabled on the host running Hyper-V.

Please note: Disabling Enhanced Setting Mode makes the Virtual Machine Connection tool enact the methods previously seen in pre-R2 Hyper-V versions.

As you can see, there are different ways to add USB device to Hyper-V virtual machine. Considering the ease of use and the range of devices supported, it’s easy to see that the software tool, USB Network Gate, is a more convenient and efficient solution.

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USB Network Gate

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