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What Is USB Redirection: Technology Explanation

Jul 14, 2021

Remote desktop USB redirection permits users to connect their local USB devices (like a flash drive or printer) and enjoy full control and functionality of USB for remote desktop redirection.

Initially, remote desktop USB redirection can appear straightforward. For example, a company’s VDI software utilizes a network connection that allows a remote (virtual) desktop to use a device’s full-functionality, even though the device is physically connected to a different computer (known as the “server”).

However, things get complicated because administrators need to keep track of a lot of information (such as what network each employee uses, and what devices their IT department needs to support).

Keep reading to learn more about the topics of “What is USB redirection?” and “How does USB redirection work?”.

What is USB redirection?

USB Redirection (or Universal Serial Bus redirection) is a technology that allows an end-user to connect external devices into a USB port on one computer (known as the “server” computer) and let them access the device either from an application, or a remote desktop (known as the “client” computer).

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How USB redirection works

For USB redirection to work, the USB device’s full-functionality is transmitted (via a network connection) from a local (server) computer to a virtual (client) desktop.

USB redirection can work on “Wide Area Networks” (WANs) and “Local Area Networks” (LANs). However, most prefer using LANs because they usually have a better network connection than WANs and stronger security.

Companies and organizations using USB redirection to virtual desktops require servers to utilize VDI software that is compatible with remote display protocol.

The version of VDI software that a company uses can also impact USB redirection access, as well.

Additionally, administrators can select which USB devices can and cannot be redirected by other users. Some of the most frequently redirected devices are storage drives (like a flash drive), smart cards devices, audio/video/image devices, and printers.

It should be noted that certain devices (like scanners and even some audio and video devices) need a great deal of bandwidth to reduce latency.

There are even some USB redirection tools that will block particular types of USB devices altogether. Conveniently, USB devices like mice and keyboards are integrated with VDI software by default.

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Best conditions for remote desktop USB redirection

Issues with latency, network bandwidth, and reliability can cause major problems when it comes to USB redirection. IT teams should always be aware of the networks that fellow workers will connect from, ensuring the types and network strength can fully support USB redirection.

Wide Area Networks (WANs) are designed for use by geographically scattered groups and usually handle remote USB redirection without issue. However, there are times and situations when WAN cannot provide an adequate output for a high-quality experience for remote users.

Adversely, Local Area Networks (LANs), the network from within the physical premises where the employee works, supports USB redirection extremely well.

For best USB redirection support, network latency rates should stay below 20-milliseconds. This is a challenging benchmark to attain by those using WAN.

Admins overseeing USB redirection should ensure the VDI software in use is always up-to-date, the appropriate servers are utilized, and the operating systems (OS) are compatible with USB redirection.

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