How to connect USB to VMware virtual machine

Olga Weis


  1. About VMware: Workstation and ESXi
  2. Software solution for VMware USB passthrough
  3. Native method to connect USB to VMware

1. About VMware: Workstation and ESXi

VMware is an information technology company founded in 1998 to deliver various platform virtualization software and services. Now it takes one of the leading positions in the market of virtualization apps. VMware generally provides solutions of two types: desktop software and server applications.


The first category covers VMware Workstation - a hosted hypervisor working on Windows and Linux x64 platforms. With the help of VMware Workstation users can set up virtual machines (VMs) on their actual computer and run them concurrently with the physical device. That means a physical machine can execute multiple operating systems at a time, each on its own VM.

For those looking for a non-commercial use of the solution, the company offers a free VMware Workstation Player. And for Mac users, there’s a VMware Workstation analogue called VMware Fusion. This software makes it possible for Macs based on Intel processors to execute different OSes atop of macOS.

The second most popular VMware product is VMware ESXi, a type-1 (bare-metal) hypervisor which does not work as a typical software installed on an OS. ESXi comes with all crucial components of OS already included and runs right on the server hardware. As a result, a user doesn’t need to install any additional operating system.

2. Software solution for VMware USB redirection

USB Network Gate logo

USB Network Gate

Requirements: Windows (32-bit and 64-bit): XP/2003/2008/ Vista/7/8/10, Windows Server 2012. 5.62MB free space. Version 8.0.1859. (4th Nov, 2017). 4.9 Rank based on 179+ users, Reviews(72)
Category: Networking Software
To redirect USB to VMware virtual machine, you can use a dedicated utility, USB Network Gate, which works as a wireless connector between your guest OS running on VMware ESXi or VMware Workstation and a USB peripheral attached to your local PC or any remote computer.
USB Network Gate

The big advantage of the solution is that it’s capable of forwarding nearly any USB device across the Internet, local network or Ethernet. That means you don’t even need to have a USB device physically present near your host computer to enable VMware workstation USB passthrough. A simple installation of the program on both host and guest platforms will be enough to add USB to VMware virtual machine.

With its unique ability to redirect USB over IP to VMware, USB Network Gate opens new boundless opportunities for users working with POS equipment, automated industrial lines, mission-critical enterprise apps, etc.

Based on an advanced port virtualization technology, the utility can also easily share those particular USB devices that have never been supported by VMware solutions. For instance, if you try to access a mouse or a keyboard with a bootable HID interface from VMware ESXi, you’ll face a real problem, as these peripherals, as well as real-time video cameras and audio devices that use isochronous data transfers, cannot be redirected to VMware ESXi server by native methods. Thankfully, USB Network Gate can resolve this challenge once and for all.

Here’s all you need to do to enable VMware ESXi USB passthrough:

  1. Download USB Network Gate and install it on the computer where the required USB device is connected physically.
  2. Start the software and share the peripheral in the app’s interface.
  3. Install the program on a VM, launch it and connect to the shared device in the “Remote USB devices” tab.

USB Network Gate is cross-platform, so you can establish network communications between Windows, Linux and Mac machines in different combinations.

3. The native method to connect USB to VMware

  • Following is the description of how to connect USB to VMware virtual machine running on VMware Workstation:

    When you attach a USB device to a host PC, the device by default connects to the VM instead of the host computer. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to manually redirect the device to the virtual machine. If the device is connected to the guest OS, Workstation retains the connection to the host system’s USB port. In case you suspend the VM, power it off or unplug the device and then plug it again or resume the guest operating system, Workstation reconnects the device. If the device is not reconnected by Workstation but is still available, you can redirect it manually.
    To do this: Choose VM > Removable Devices > Device Name > Connect (Disconnect from host).

  • To redirect USB devices to VMware ESXi you should follow these steps:
    1. Log into your VMware vSphere Web Client and access your Inventory.
    2. Open the list of Virtual Machines and choose the one to which needs to access the USB device. Right-click and select the “Edit” settings.
    3. Then, go to the “New device” menu, choose “Host USB device” and hit “Add”.
    4. In the drop-down menu, select the USB device that will be added to the virtual machine.

USB Network Gate

Requirements for Windows: XP/2003/2008/Vista/7/8/10, Server 2012
Also available on macOS, Linux OS and Android , 5.62MB size
Version 8.0.1859 (4th Nov, 2017) Release notes
Category: Networking Software