Virtualization is a topic that comes up often on online forums like Reddit, Howtogeek, Spiceworks and Superuser. The discussion tends to revolve around USB passthrough within a virtual environment. Common questions include limitations in how a USB device can be accessed remotely as well as ensuring that the device is able to perform to its full capacity, even when accessed remotely. This article aims to discuss these and other concerns around using USB in VM software.
1. Using software to access USB in a virtual machine
A dedicated software lets you set up a virtual environment with USB passthrough. The app is fully configurable, and it allows creating multiple virtual USB ports, which can, in turn, be accessed by various authorized remote computers within the network.
USB Network Gate is one such resource. It allows access to a physically connected USB device from any other remote computer or VM, regardless of physical location. USB Network Gate is another option that assists in creating a virtual environment where any USB devices that are plugged into a USB port on a server machine can be accessed remotely.
The steps to setting up a virtual environment with USB Network Gate is as follows:
- Download the software and install it on the host server as well as all the client machines. (Remember the host server is the machine where the physical device is connected, and the client machines are all the machines that require access to the remote USB device)
- From the list of devices, share the device
- Set up the connection to the connected USB device
USB Network Gate is an easy to use utility that allows you to redirect USB to VMware virtual machines. USB Network Gate becomes a wireless connector between the connected USB device and the operating system within the VMware ESXi or VMware Workstation.
With its robust capabilities, USB Network Gate is an essential tool for a diverse range of devices and environments, including point of sales; automated production lines and various other industrial applications. See the quick guide to access USB in VMware:
USB Network Gate features advanced port virtualization technology which makes it easy to share a wide range of USB devices that were previously unavailable within the VMware virtual environment. USB devices like a mouse, or real-time video cameras that use isochronous data transfer can traditionally not be redirected to VMware ESXi server. USB Network Gate overcomes this limitation with minimal effort.
Hyper-V is Microsoft’s answer to hardware virtualization. It allows you to create virtual machines with virtual hardware such as hard drives, switches, etc. Each virtual machine is also capable of running a different operating system.
By using USB Network Gate within Hyper-V sessions, you can also gain access to USB devices. For more information on this, refer to the article USB Network Gate to use Hyper-V host or client sessions with USB devices with Hyper-V USB Passthrough guide.
1.3 Citrix XenDesktop USB passthrough
Citrix XenDesktop is a dedicated software solution geared towards setting up and configuring virtual desktops. It makes use of Citrix’s proprietary protocol Independent Computing Architecture (ICA) that determines how data is passed between server and client.
From version 7.x, USB Network Gate has been fully compatible with Citrix ICA protocol. You may be sure to perform USB in Citrix XenDesktop passthrough with the app. USB Network gate is able to share USB devices with any thin client making use of the ICA specifications.
VirtualBox is a free and open source alternative from the Oracle stable. It is compatible with x86 and x86-64 hardware. VirtualBox allows you to create a virtual environment on a server, computer or embedded device. However, it does not have native support for USB passthrough.
A common error encountered when trying to access a USB device from a virtual session is "Failed to attach the USB device to the virtual machine”. Fortunately, USB Network Gate can easily be used to set up and configure remote USB access within the VirtualBox session.
Learn how USB Network Gate will help you to perform VirtualBox USB passthrough in this video guide.