List of 6 best USB over Ethernet solutions

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?

Special software lets you share USB over Ethernet and access devices easily as if those devices were directly attached to your remote computer.

1. Best USB over Ethernet software to date


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.

1.1. 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

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.

Software for using USB devices in virtual environment

1.1.1. The easiest way to share a USB device over your local network:


Step 1: Download a USB sharing app and install it on all computers that will communicate with your USB device remotely as well as on the machine (server) where the peripheral is attached physically.

Step 2: Start the software on the server PC, find the device in the “Local Devices” tab and hit “Share” next to it.

Step 3: On a remote computer (client), head to the “Remote Devices” tab, locate the device and click “Connect”

Step 4: This is it! Now, the peripheral will appear in the Device Manager of the client machine although it’s not connected to the PC physically.

1.1.2. Share USB over Ethernet video tutorial


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

1.1.3. Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The 14-day trial version of the software lets you test the scanning over a network functionality of the tool;
  • All types of USB devices are supported;Works across different platforms — Windows, Mac, Linux and Android;
  • Cross-platform support for Windows, macOS, Linux and Android systems;
  • 24 hour supports available.

Cons:

  • A license must be purchased it you want to use the product for more than the 14-day trial period

1.2. FlexiHub

FlexiHub is another efficient USB redirector that can be more universal than USB Network Gate. Additionally to all USB Network Gate 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.

Your efficient USB redirector

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.

1.2.1. Video Tutorial


1.2.2. Advantages of FlexiHub:

Pros

  • The software comes with a clean and intuitive interface that will get you what you need simply and efficiently.
  • FlexiHub has versions for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android operating systems. You’ll have no problem establishing cross-platform connections, be it Windows-macOS, Linux-Windows, or any other combination.
  • You can communicate with other users logged in to your FlexiHub account via a convenient FlexiChat.
  • The app encrypts data traveling over an Internet connection, this way protecting it from unauthorized access.
  • FlexiHub is fully compatible with VMWare, ESX, Citrix XenDesktop, Microsoft Hyper-V, Windows Virtual PC, QEMU virtualization software.

Cons

  • Connection to remote devices is not supported with a free subscription;
  • Annual subscription renewal is required.

1.3. 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.

Share and access USB devices

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Support for any type of USB device
  • The ability to share unlimited numbers of USB devices

Cons

  • Client connections cannot be disabled from the server
  • Devices cannot be isolated in RDP sessions
  • On Windows systems the shared USB ports are reconfigured when the machine is rebooted.

1.4. 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.

Access USB devices through LAN, WLAN or Internet

1.5. 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.

Share USB devices among several users

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Auto-connection is implemented after connections are dropped or the system is rebooted
  • An OEM license allows the technology to be integrated into your software applications
  • Automate program functionality with command-line options

Cons

  • No display of the current connections data transfer volume
  • Auto- connection is not possible to RDP devices

1.6. 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:

System for sharing USB devices over Ethernet

Pros and Cons

  • The solution is absolutely free to use
  • 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.

2. 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.

2.1. 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.

3. The frequently asked questions about USB over Ethernet software

The ability to encrypt data transmission is one of the most important characteristics of any USB over Ethernet sharing solution. As long as you use such apps as USB Network Gate, you don’t need to worry about the security of data transmitted over ethernet. The application uses advanced 256-bit SSL encryption which protects all network communications from unauthorized access.
USB over Ethernet software by Electronic Team, Inc. will let you share as many USB peripherals as you need. The number of devices you can share at a time will be limited only by your system’s capabilities.
Yes, USB over Ethernet software as USB Network Gate is a multi-platform solution. It’s compatible with Windows, Linux macOS, and Android operating systems. With this app, you can create server-client connections between different platforms in any combination.
Yes, you can integrate USB Network Gate functionality into your own software or hardware product and share local USB devices or communicate with remote ones right from your app.
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. Electronic Team's, Inc. USB Network Gate application provides secure connections using advanced 256-bit SSL encryption so you can be sure your data is safe.
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Also Available: USB Network Gate is a cross-platform solution compatible with Mac, Linux and Android OSes:

UNG for Mac

UNG for Linux

UNG for Android