List of 6 best
USB over Ethernet solutions

Olga Weis

We use so many devices that connect via USB these days - printers, scanners, webcams, etc. Obviously, USB cable is usually required to use these devices, which is great when the device you want to use is right here, by your computer. But what to do when you desperately need to use a device (or two) located in another office or at home, while you are at work or travelling? Buying a new device is not an option many times and can turn out to be quite expensive.

A much more efficient and less expensive solution is a special software that lets you share USB over Ethernet and access devices easily as if those devices were directly attached to your remote computer.

In essence, USB over Ethernet software is a handy tool that helps redirect multiple remote USB devices across different networks (LAN, WiFi, Ethernet, the Internet). There’s no shortage of these solutions in the market today and when making their choice users often take into account three main factors: price, cross-platform compatibility, and how many USB devices can be shared at a time.

Here are some aspects that are common to most USB through Ethernet apps:

  • The software is paid (with the exception of one open-source project);
  • Most applications come with a free trial;
  • The price depends on the number of connections to remote USB devices you get.

Best USB over Ethernet software to date


  1. USB Network Gate
  2. FlexiHub
  3. USB Over Network
  4. USB Redirector
  5. VirtualHere
  6. USB/IP Project

1. USB Network Gate


USB over Ethernet (aka USB Network Gate) allows for a smooth connection to a USB port over TCP/IP connection. It is very easy to share USB devices and access them from any remote location in the world.

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. (3rd Nov, 2017). 4.9 Rank based on 179+ users, Reviews(72)
Category: Networking Software
The app allows accessing shared devices from multiple computers and lets you set password protection to control access to devices.
USB Network Gate

With this solution you have the possibility to use your USB devices in virtual environment, in blade servers, and over RDP. USB Network Gate works with VMware, VMware ESX, Citrix XenDesktop and Microsoft Hyper-V.

You can share your devices and access them on various platforms: Mac, Linux or Windows, which makes this USB over Ethernet solution cross-platform.


2. FlexiHub


FlexiHub is another efficient USB redirector that can be more universal than USB Network Gate. Additionally to all USB Network can do, FlexiHub also supports serial port sharing, which widens the list of supported devices tremendously. It is also very friendly and allows for powerful device management tools while staying friendly to amateur users.

flexihub

Main differences of FlexiHub from the previous software:


  • it allows connecting to remote devices even when a direct connection between computers does not appear to be possible (one of them may be behind NAT or firewall);
  • the ability to manage connections from your FlexiHub account;
  • subscription licenses unlike the previous solution that is sold as a one-time purchase;
  • Internet connection is required when using this app;
  • Flexihub cannot tunnel USB traffic over the RDP protocol; it uses plain TCP/IP or UDP.

3. USB Over Network


USB Over Network allows sharing and accessing USB devices over local network or the Internet. This app works on Windows and Linux. Just as the two previous solutions it will let you use devices no matter how far they are right now. The great advantage of this tool is that it supports an advanced sharing rule manager which will give you the ability to optimize the sharing process as for a single device as for a group of USB-based peripherals which have the same characteristics.

usb over network

4. USB Redirector


USB Redirector allows sharing and accessing remote USB devices through LAN, WLAN or Internet. This USB over network app can act as a USB server and a USB client, and it is offered as a separate lightweight client too. A regular TCP/IP connection is used for communication.

usb redirector

5. VirtualHere


VirtualHere can be used to share USB devices among multiple users over the Internet, LAN or their cloud for easy access from any remote spot. This USB to Ethernet connector is installed with minimal effort too, operates on each client machine or service's cloud instance, and is available for Windows, macOS, Linux and Android systems. What is interesting is that the solution offers a built-in VPN subscription service. Thanks to this advanced option, you will be able to access your USB devices connected to a VirtualHere server wherever you are. What is more, the version for network attached storages is available. The trial lets you share 1 USB device over Ethernet.

virtualhere

6. USB/IP Project


The mission of the USB/IP Project is to create a general system for sharing USB devices over Ethernet. To make USB peripherals accessible over the network, USB/IP converts USB I/O requests to IP packets and forwards them to the required PC. You can also use original USB device drivers and apps (without any modifications) for remote USB devices. But if you’re thinking about going with the open source tool, you should remember:

  • The solution cannot guarantee the stable performance with modern platforms, as it has not been updated for a long time;
  • The USB/IP project does not support as many advanced USB sharing features as you can find in a paid alternative;
  • USB/IP is tailored for rather experienced users.
USB/IP Project

Sharing USB devices over the Ethernet


USB Network Gate by Eltima might well be the easiest way to wirelessly connect to remote USB devices. Check out this quick video that demonstrates how to use this specialized software tool to share a USB device over the network:


What areas can benefit from USB over Ethernet technology?


There are many scenarios where USB over Ethernet software can be useful. Let’s look at some of the most common reasons to use this type of software.

  • Sharing peripheral devices in an office

    A USB over Ethernet application can be instrumental in allowing you to get the maximum usage from your office’s USB devices. Using this software tool you can share printers, scanners, storage devices, and any other USB device over your Wi-Fi or Ethernet network. Rather than purchasing multiple devices, share your peripherals by using a wireless USB port redirection application. Your users can use Windows, Mac, and Linux systems to access any network-connected USB device without the need for any additional cabling.

  • Redirecting USB traffic to a virtual environment

    One of the problems associated with many virtual machines is their lack of access to their host computer’s USB ports. This limits your ability to use peripheral devices attached to the USB interfaces of the host machine. USB over Ethernet applications resolve this problem by forwarding your USB communication directly to a virtual machine. This way your virtual machines can benefit from any of the host computer’s USB attached devices.

  • Gaining remote access to security dongles

    USB dongles are often used by software developers to protect their products and prevent users from making unauthorized copies. While they offer great security, they can be prone to wear and tear when being used on multiple different computers. There may be times when a security key needs to be shared among a team of multiple individuals. Through the use of USB over Ethernet software you can get around these issues. With a dedicated USB connectivity app, you can essentially copy the dongle to a remote computer gaining full functionality over the device.

  • Wireless access to remote iOS and Android devices

    Developers testing or debugging applications on iOS or Android devices will definitely benefit from the use of USB to Ethernet software. Remotely connected iPhones, iPads, and Android devices can be accessed from your local computer as if they were physically attached, making it much easier to troubleshoot your development efforts.


Are USB over Ethernet apps a secure way to share your data?


A critical question to ask when selecting a USB to Ethernet application is the capability of the tool to encrypt data transmission. You need to ensure that your data is fully protected against unauthorized access or corruption as it is redirected by the software application. Eltima’s USB Network Gate application provides secure connections using advanced 256-bit SSL encryption so you can be sure your data is safe.

How to choose the best USB over Ethernet software


All of the USB to Ethernet solutions from our compilation can be employed as a component in a custom solution or as a standalone connectivity tool.

Some of the USB over Ethernet applications provide advanced traffic compression functionality that can speed up the data transmission with some devices and can be helpful in reducing Internet traffic. USB Network Gate is among the products that offer this feature. Another feature offered in some packages is the ability to auto-connect to USB devices as they are plugged in. Callback options for computers that live behind a NAT are just another of the features that can be found in some of these software tools.

The free solution may be sufficient if your needs are modest and you just want to add some USB remote access features to an application. If you plan on serious development then check out the reviews for the paid application that offers the features that you need.

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 (3rd Nov, 2017) Release notes
Category: Networking Software