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What Is RemoteFX USB Redirection: Definition & Requirements

Jul 27, 2021

What Is RemoteFX USB Redirection?

RemoteFX USB device redirection allows users access (and full control over) peripheral USB devices during a Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). RemoteFX USB redirection is a special feature that supplements USB redirection when standard USB redirection to RDP isn’t enough.

RemoteFX USB passthrough is a powerful feature that supports additional high-level redirection needs like:

  • Port Redirection
  • Plug and Play Device Redirection
  • s.a. Easy Print
  • And More...

Features of RemoteFX USB redirection

The entire goal behind RemoteFX USB redirection development was straightforward: anyone should have access to any USB device they need and know their devices will always work at full functionality.

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Standard Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) allows the use of specific device types during RDP sessions, via various high-level redirection capabilities:

  • Easy Print allows a user to print to a local printer during remote sessions.
  • Drive Redirection permits access to file systems on any local drive within a remote session (this includes devices like USB drives).
  • Smart Card Redirection lets users authenticate to (and in) an RDP session via smart cards or e tokens.
  • Plug and Play Device Redirection lets users access their MTP music players, PTP digital cameras, POS for .NET devices, and more during RDP sessions.
  • Input Redirection permits the use of keyboard and mouse devices during an RDP session.
  • Audio Redirection lets users record and playback audio within a remote desktop session.
  • Port Redirection lets users access and control serial and parallel ports during RDP sessions.

Unfortunately, there are numerous devices that the standard Remote Desktop Protocol doesn’t support.

Devices such as multifunctional printers, webcams, scanners, etc. do not fall under standard Remote Desktop Protocol coverage.

However, that’s why RemoteFX USB redirection was developed. It serves as a universal tool that can support and redirect these devices during a remote session.

RemoteFX USB redirection occurs at the port protocol level (USB Request Block) which is similar to how users can redirect serial/parallel ports through remote desktop sessions.

Below we’ll uncover why this is an advantage, but it should be noted that RemoteFX USB redirection is intended to supplement Remote Desktop Protocol high-level redirection, not replace it.

RemoteFX USB redirection vs RDP high-level redirection

When users meld RemoteFX USB redirection and RDP high-level device redirection, the best of both worlds can be achieved.

RemoteFX USB Redirection RDP High-Level Device Redirection
No drivers are required on the client machine Driver installation is required on the client machine
Device drivers must be installed on the server computer Device driver installations aren’t usually required on the server computer
One redirection method regardless of device type Specific redirection methods based on the device type
Forwards URBs to/from the device via RDP connection Exposes high-level device functionality within remote sessions via optimized protocols based on the device type
Devices can only be used during one RDP session at a time (i.e: another client machine cannot use the USB device while it’s in use during another remote session) Multiple remote desktop sessions can access and control a device simultaneously (this includes the local client, too)
RemoteFX is optimized for Local Area Networks (LAN) RDP high-level device redirection functions on both WAN and LAN networks

RemoteFX USB Device Redirection Requirements

RDS Session Hosts

  • Windows Server 2012, 2012 R2, or 2016
  • The Desktop Experience feature should be installed
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VDI Desktops

  • Windows 8.1/Windows 10

Client Systems

  • Windows Workspot client 2.x.x
  • RemoteFX-capable client (versions of Remote Desktop Connection 8.1 or newer)
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Additional RemoteFX USB Passthrough Requirements:

  • RemoteFX USB redirection cannot be used when connecting to Remote Desktop Session Host servers.
  • Users need to install the client version of Remote Desktop Protocol and enable “Group Policy” settings. The client machine must also restart for RemoteFX USB redirection to work properly.
  • USB devices to be used during remote desktop sessions need to be plugged in before establishing an RDP connection. Any devices connected during the remote sessions won’t redirect.
  • Because RemoteFX USB redirection (as with all RemoteFX) was designed to be used on LAN networks (< 20 ms latency), certain USB devices might fail to function (or provide an unpleasant user experience) on a WAN connection.
  • RemoteFX USB redirection only allows the use of a USB device within one RDP session at a time. This is due to USB limitations, and thus the device cannot be operated locally when already redirected to a virtual machine.
  • Users must log out and back into their virtual desktop to add new devices to the client computer they wish to redirect to.
  • The driver installation will also be necessary for USB devices installed on virtual machines. Therefore, the users must ensure that drivers are available for the desired device and that Windows Update is enabled on the VM.

RemoteFX USB Redirection Supported Devices


Device Support Status Redirection Method
All-in-One Printer Supported RemoteFX USB Redirection
Printer Supported Easy Print
Scanner Supported RemoteFX USB Redirection
Biometric Supported Within A Session
Not Supported During Login
RemoteFX USB Redirection
PTP Camera Supported Plug And Play Device Redirection
MTP Media Player Supported Plug And Play Device Redirection
Webcam LAN-Only Support RemoteFX USB Redirection
VoIP Telephone/Headset LAN-Only Support RemoteFX USB Redirection
Audio (Not A USB Composite Device) Supported Audio Redirection
CD Or DVD Drive Supported For Read Operations Drive Redirection
Hard Drive Or USB Flash Drive Supported Drive Redirection
Smart Card Reader Supported Smart Card Redirection
USB-To-Serial Supported RemoteFX USB Redirection
USB Network Adapter (Also Includes Some Personal Digital Assistants) Blocked N/A
USB Display Blocked N/A
USB Keyboard Or Mouse Supported Input Redirection


RemoteFX USB redirection supports the highlighted devices, while alternative devices listed are supported via high-level device redirection.

Any devices that haven’t been listed above are processed via RemoteFX USB redirection. The devices should function normally but are not officially supported.

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