Devices that use a USB connection are widely in use these days. Printers, scanners, and webcams are just a few of the types of devices manufactured to be connected via USB. The typical connection involves a USB cable, which is a fine solution if the device you want to use is located near your computer. What can you do when you need to use devices that are located in another office across the country? Maybe you need to access a printer housed in your office, but you are at home or traveling. Buying additional devices is not a viable option, and even if possible, is a very expensive proposition.
A better way to share USB over TCP/IP is to use dedicated software. This less expensive and more efficient solution will allow you to access USB devices over IP in the same way as if they were physically attached to your machine.
Perhaps you have not heard of USB over IP software. These applications enable the creation of a system to share USB connected devices over the Internet, Wi-Fi, or essentially any network. It allows the user to control any USB device like a printer, webcam, or scanner from any remote location as if the device was directly connected to your computer.
A number of different USB over IP software applications exist, and it can be difficult to determine which one is right for your situation. There are basically three factors that you need to consider when making your decision. These are the price of the application, the operating systems that you need to support, and the number of USB devices that you need to be able to connect.
Before we get into the details of specific products, here is an overview of what to expect in the most popular applications.
All programs have a cost with the exception of the open-source application.
Most of the programs offer a free trial period.
The price of the tool increases based on the number of devices that require USB over IP network connectivity.
Let’s take a closer look at some USB over IP software solutions.
USB over IP (aka USB Network Gate) enables you to easily create a connection to USB ports over IP network. Using this application makes it easy to share USB devices over IP and access them from any location on the globe.
USB Network Gate
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Multiple computers can share devices and you can password protect your devices to limit access to authorized users.
This application allows you to use USB devices in virtual environments, over RDP, and in blade servers. VMware, VMware ESX, Citrix XenDesktop and Microsoft Hyper-V are all supported by USB Network Gate.
This application is truly a cross-platform solution as USB Network Gate fully supports the Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems for sharing USB ports over IP.
Here is a quick guide to using USB Network Gate to share USB over IP network.
Download USB Network Gate, and install it on all computers that will be sharing the device.
The computer with the device attached is considered the server. On this machine, find the device in the list of devices that are available on your system and click “Share”.
Find the device on your client computer and press the “Connect” button.
The device can now be accessed, controlled and monitored with its full functionality just as if it were physically attached to your machine.
Another efficient application for extending access to USB devices to IP is Flexihub. This software tool is more universal than USB Network Gate, as FlexiHub also supports the sharing of serial ports, significantly expanding the number of supported devices. It features powerful device management tools in a user-friendly package suitable for all users, from experts to amateurs.
Differences between FlexiHub and USB Network Gate:
The connection of remote devices is possible even when there does not appear to be a direct connection between computers, such as when one is behind a firewall or NAT.
Your FlexiHub account can be used to manage connections.
The software requires subscription licenses whereas the previous solution was a one-time purchase.
An Internet connection is required to use this software tool.
FlexiHub cannot use the RDP protocol for tunneling USB traffic but needs to use TCP/IP or UDP.
This application enables accessing and sharing your USB devices over IP or a local network. USB Over Network supports the Windows and Linux operating systems. As with the other solutions we have discussed, it enables remote access and control of USB devices regardless of where they are located. A feature of this software tool is an advanced sharing rule manager. Using it lets you fine-tune the sharing process for individual devices and for groups of devices that you define with the same characteristics.
USB Redirector is another application that enables you to share and access remote USB devices through the LAN, WLAN or Internet. This USB over IP tool can act as either a USB server or a USB client. There is a separate offering that includes just the client functionality. A standard TCP/IP connection is used for communication. An additional feature of this app is the ability to blacklist certain computers so they cannot access the shared USB devices.
VirtualHere can be used to allow multiple users to remotely share USB devices over IP, LAN or their cloud for easy access from any location. Easily installed, this solution runs on each client machine or service’s cloud instance. VirtualHere supports Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Android systems, and there is a version available for network attached storage devices. The free trial enables the sharing of 1 USB device over the network.
The USB/IP Project is an open-source solution that is attempting to develop a general system of sharing USB devices through the network.
Transmission between computers is done by encapsulating USB I/O requests into IP packets, allowing access to the full functionality of shared devices. No modification is required of the original USB device drivers and applications when used for remote devices. Some considerations to keep in mind if you are leaning toward the open-source solution are:
The software has not been updated recently so stability with modern systems and equipment cannot be guaranteed.
USB/IP does not offer the same level of functionality as the paid applications.
It was developed with the more experienced user in mind.
Requirements for Windows (32-bit and 64-bit): XP/Vista/7/8/10, Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016/2019 Also available on macOS, Linux OS and Android , 6.08MB size Version 8.2.2087 (9th Jan, 2020) Release notes Category: CommunicationApplication