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