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What Is USB Redirection: Technology Explanation

Editorial Team Editorial Team Jun 12, 2023

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.

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).

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”).

remote desktop USB redirection

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 how USB redirection work?

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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.

Remote Desktop USB Redirection Not Working

It can be frustrating when dealing with an RDP USB not working, but here’s how to fix it and get back to work.

Configuring Remote Desktop Connection

The first and most important step to fix the RDP USB redirection not working is ensuring that the Remote Desktop Connection Manager is configured properly. If the Remote Desktop Manager is not configured correctly, devices won’t be accessible.

When faced with a Remote Desktop USB redirection not working, follow the steps below to check your Remote Desktop Connection Manager:
Choose Remote Desktop Connection.
 Remote Desktop Connection
In the Remote Desktop Connection window, expand the Show Options menu (as shown below).
 Show Options menu
While in the Options window, navigate to the Local Resources tab and then click More.
 Local Resources tab
Check the boxes that are relevant to the device(s) users wish to access via remote desktop session and click OK.
 select the devices

Adjusting Remote Access Settings

If the remote desktop is still not seeing a USB device, the user may need to provide permission to the specified accounts that have authorized access (thus allowing a remote machine to connect to the device).
Navigate to the Control Panel using the search bar.
 Navigate to the Control Panel
In the Control Panel window, select Systems and Security.
 select Systems and Security
Under the System tab, click the Allow remote access text (as shown below).
 Allow remote access
Open the Remote tab and click the Select Users button in the Remote Desktop section.
 Select Users
Click the Add button when the System Properties box
 Add button
Finally, click OK.
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