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How to connect USB device in Virtual Machine

Olga Weis Olga Weis Feb 9, 2022

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.

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

1.1 VMware

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.

1.2 Hyper-V

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. So, you can access USB in Virtual machine just in couple of clicks.


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.

Citrix XenDesktop

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.

1.4 VirtualBox

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 in virtual machine.


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.

2. Virtualization Frequently asked questions

Virtualization involves the creation and running of a virtual instance of a device or a resource. A common use of virtualization is to run multiple operating systems on one physical machine. This offers greater flexibility and cost savings, especially where remote devices can be shared.
Virtualization, whether in Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware limits USB passthrough. This means that any physical device that is connected to the server is not, by default accessible by other remote computers.

With the help of additional software, it is possible to add USB passthrough allowing the virtual machine to access a USB device that is physically connected to the host machine.

Any USB device that is connected to a virtual machine is not accessible by any other machine until it is released.
While it is possible to access a USB device within a virtual machine, it is quite a tedious process with many restrictions and it requires quite a bit of configuration. An example of such a restriction is that in VMware, if you have multiple OSs running, you will not be able to access a connected device if it’s in use by another OS. With USB Network Gate, this is not a problem. Your USB device is accessible in any VM. How to mount USB in Linux virtual machine?
  • From within your VirtualBox environment, open the setting option and select the device you want to mount.
  • Then close the settings window.
  • Add your user to the vboxusers group
  • Restart your computer
  • Log in and start your virtual machine
  • Open the devices menu, locate and select the USB device you wish to mount
  • The selected device will then show up in the VM
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