How to extend USB
over Network: software and hardware solution

Olga Weis


  1. Extend USB devices over network
  2. Software solution to extend USB over IP
  3. A guide to sharing USB over CAT without any cables or adapters
  4. What is USB and how is it used?
  5. Hardware extender
  6. USB extension cables - pros and cons

Extend USB devices over network

Say, there is a device attached to your computer – it could be a scanner, a printer or a webcam or any gadget in fact that communicates to your system via USB port – and you need to share its functionality or contents with others. Others could be anywhere – in the same cubicle, on the next floor or across the globe. You should have come across situations when it is you who needs to access a remote device connected to a computer in your network.

How would you do it? What do you need to do to extend USB over network? There are various methods of doing it, the main two being either with the help of software or hardware.

If you think there is nothing simpler than using a USB to CAT 5 extender, then take a look at its most powerful alternative - a program known as USB Network Gate.

Software solution to extend USB over IP

USB over Ethernet by Eltima Software is your USB Ethernet extender. It extends USB over network – LAN/ Ethernet/ Internet, etc.
USB Network Gate logo

USB Network Gate

Share USB over Ethernet on Windows
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Download 14-day trial, You can share only 1 local USB-device
USB Network Gate

The tool works over a cabled network as well as in Wi-Fi environments. Secure remote access of a device is possible by password protecting the devices.

USB Network Gate makes it possible to use USB devices with virtual machines and is fully compatible with VMware, VMware ESX, Citrix XenDesktop and Microsoft Hyper-V. Accessing your devices using the RDP protocol is supported, and you can assign a device to a specific user’s RDP session to enact device exclusivity.

This is a multi-platform software solution, running on Windows, Linux, Mac, and Android operating systems. The tool gives you the ability to encrypt embedded traffic for secure communication and compress data transfer to improve throughput speed. The fact that you are sharing a USB port over the network means devices can be easily removed and replaced and your remote client gains immediate access.

USB Network Gate is the perfect solution for extending the capabilities of your USB devices by connecting them to the network. A single machine can now access many USB devices regardless of the user of its physical ports. Not only will you be able to access the devices from anywhere in the world, you can also reduce the amount of cabling required, saving both space and money.

A guide to sharing USB over CAT without any cables or adapters

USB Network Gate is indeed a worthy replacement for USB extender over CAT5 or CAT 6. It can make all the USB functionality available over the network (Ethernet/LAN/Internet, etc.). With USB Network Gate you will be able to share or/and extend USB through the net on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux. The application works flawlessly with iOS and Android-based devices and can share them with any remote location despite the distance.

This is how you can use USB over IP Extender by Eltima:

  1. Download and install the application on a computer to which the device is attached – we will call it a server – and computers that need shared access to it – these are clients.
  2. Launch the app on the server, navigate to ‘Devices’ tab and locate the device you need to share, now click ‘Share’ button next to it.
  3. Launch the application on the client’s side, in ‘Remote USB devices’ tab find the device you need to access and click ‘Connect’ button.

Once the connection is established, you can start using the device immediately.

This method does not require any additional hardware and ideal for those who do not like their desks and cubicles cluttered with cables and wires.

What is USB and how is it used?

Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry standard for digital data transmission over short distances. A USB port is a cable connection interface that allows USB devices to be connected to each other or to a host such as a computer. USB connectors are standard on the majority of consumer electronics and computer peripheral devices available today. USB ports have replaced serial ports on most laptops and are currently the primary means of accessing external devices from your computer.

There are several different types of USB ports and connectors, and the same type needs to be on both ends of the connection. USB connected devices can draw power from the host machine through the port, making them extremely portable. They also offer plug-and-play capabilities, meaning they can be added to your system without the need to reboot.

There is a one-to-one relationship between the number of devices and ports that they can connect to on your computer. This can limit your ability to use all of the devices that are available to you without constantly switching cables. You can obtain a USB port extender which enables the connection of several devices to a single USB port simultaneously.

USB over CAT Extender

Another limitation in communication between USB ports and connected devices is the cable length that is supported for full-speed data transfer. USB 2.0 has a maximum cable length of 5 meters, with USB 3 reducing that length to 3 meters. This means that your devices need to located no more than the recommended distance from your host.

The cable length limitation can be a problem in a number of different ways. Your company may want to share devices with various users located throughout the building. This can prove to be impossible when working with the limited lengths available to USB devices.

Another instance where cable length can impact the ability to use USB devices is in remote monitoring or surveillance applications. It is not possible to use cabling when the device must be located a significant distance away. What you require in this case is a USB extension.

Hardware extender

This solution works if you need to share a USB device in a local network. There are various kinds of hardware USB extenders – USB 2.0 over Cat 5 cables, fiber optic cables, etc., each fit for a particular purpose – be it security, medical, automative telematics apps, kiosks, etc.

USB Network Gate

However to connect to a device at a long distance you will still need a software USB extender over IP. Unless you have really long cables and do not mind relying on their durability.

USB extension cables - pros and cons

There are USB extension cables available that can alleviate some of the problems associated with limited cable length. They contain electronics that generate the USB signal and are called active repeater cables. Using USB 2.0, you can have an active cable up to 30 meters in length. USB 3 limited this to 18 meters. Mixing standard cables and active cables lessen the extension 25 meters for USB 2.0 and 15 meters for USB 3.

USB cable extensions are bus-powered and will draw power from the USB port. Cables are available with power adapters to get around this potential issue.

USB CAT 5 extender is usually limited in length and cannot ensure large area coverage. Therefore, you should be close enough to obtain access to the device. Considering the limited length offered by USB Extender Series, the distance between the host computer and USB peripherals cannot be more than 450 feet or 135 meters. USB over CAT 5 extender contains a receiver set and a transmitter connected via a standard CAT 5/5e/6 or CAT 7 cable. For powering the attached devices and supplying every port with 5 Volts, 500 mA, the receiver uses a built-in 4-port hub. It lets USB peripheral devices like portable media players, webcams, smartphones and alike, stay charged and connected. The USB Extender Series might come in handy if you’re using apps with Extron Annotator or/and remote touchscreen displays, especially if they require utilizing different remote USB peripherals that include mice, keyboards, interactive whiteboards and various other HID devices.

Though these cables do offer some extended utilization of your USB devices, you are still constrained by their physical limitations. To truly access and share your USB devices, the best path is to share them over the network.

/ / / How to extend USB over Network: software and hardware solutions

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