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Hyper-V USB Passthrough: Detailed How-to Tutorial

Olga Weis Olga Weis Jan 4, 2023
Hyper-V USB Passthrough: Detailed How-to Tutorial

Redirecting USB storage and other USB devices to Hyper-V VMs is challenging since it does not offer a simple ready-made solution, unlike other hypervisors. There are a few possible routes a user can take to enable Hyper-V USB passthrough.

This article will describe 4 methods that will help you with redirecting USB devices to Hyper-V, each having its peculiarities and strong sides. So, let’s jump right into the tutorial and explore these methods.

Hyper-V USB passthrough over TCP/IP (Minimum Setup)

USB Network Gate is a USB redirector software that provides an easy way for accessing USB devices in a virtual machine, including Hyper-V USB passthrough and Hyper-V USB drive redirection. This specialized redirection app enables you to attach USB devices in Hyper-V by sharing a USB over the network.

Hassle-free Hyper-V USB Passthrough
14-day free trial

USB Network Gate is a client-server solution, meaning that its server-side gives access to USB devices to other computers on the network or to Virtual Machines, and the client side allows using them as local resources. You can use any computer connected to the network as a server.

How to access USB in Hyper-V with USB Network Gate

USB Network Gate requires just a few easy steps to implement a USB device redirection to a Hyper-V workstation. And you won't have to spend lots of time configuring the VM hoping for the setup to work.

Here is what you need to do:
Install USB Network Gate on the host and guest operating systems.
 Install USB Network Gate
Use the app to share a device physically attached to the host.
 share USB device to Hyper-V
On the VM, open the app and locate the shared peripheral, and click "Connect".
 connect USB device to Hyper-V

That’s how easy it is to mount a USB peripheral to Hyper-V. You will see the peripheral in your VM’s Device Manager and be able to access it as if it was directly connected to your virtual machine.

Hassle-free Hyper-V USB Passthrough
14-day free trial

Pros of accessing USB in Hyper-V with USB Network Gate

  • Virtually all USB peripherals are supported.
  • Simple configuration process to implement USB access across the network.
  • USB Network Gate is compatible with Linux, Mac, Windows, Raspberry Pi, and Android.
  • It creates secure USB connections.

Hyper-V USB redirection with Enhanced Session mode

Enhanced Session mode can be instrumental in many various scenarios where a VM needs to interact with local resources but may not be able to achieve network connectivity.

Here are some examples:

  • Printing: you can send files directly from a VM to local printers.
  • Authentication: log into a VM with your smart card using a local USB card reader or a USB dongle.
  • Debugging: fix any VM-related issues even with no network connection.

On top of that, Hyper-V USB passthrough is widely used by software and hardware developers, especially the ones focused on products for Windows users. The enhanced session mode makes testing and debugging USB applications from within a VM much faster and easier.

Enhanced Session Mode is perfect in the following conditions.

✓ The OS of the virtual machine supports Enhanced Session Mode, which is Windows only.
✓ You need to access the device on the host as well or on multiple clients.
✓ Enhanced Session Mode can be used to redirect various types of USB devices, not just USB mass storage.

How to enable Enhanced Session Mode in Hyper-V

Windows Hyper-V won’t require you to download any additional libraries or components to enable the enhanced session mode. All you need to do is make minor changes to your Hyper-V configuration.
Open the Hyper-V Manager and select the Hyper-V server you want to enable the enhanced session mode. Then click Hyper-V Settings:
 Hyper-V virtual machine settings
Tick the “Allow enhanced session mode” checkbox to enable server settings in the “Enhanced Session Mode Policy” section. Please note that these settings will be used for all VMs running under the Hyper-V host. Enabling the “Allow enhanced session mode” setting determines if the guest VMs can use enhanced sessions.
 allow enhanced session mode hyper-v
Then, click “Enhanced Session Mode” under the “User” section.
Check the “Use enhanced session mode” box. This setting enables VMConnect to connect to the guest virtual machine in enhanced session mode.
 use enhanced session mode in hyper-v
Finally, click OK.

If you are a Linux user, you can find instructions on how to set up Enhanced Session on Linux in this guide.

Hyper-V USB passthrough via SCSI controller

Enabling Server-Side Hyper-V USB Passthrough Access (SCSI Controller)

The server-side Hyper-V USB passthrough, in a few words, means that you’ll be connecting a USB device physically to the host via the SCSI controller. As a result, the Hyper-V VM should have direct access to that USB device.

The server-side redirection will work under the following conditions:

  • This method can work only with non-removable USB mass storage devices.
  • The Hyper-V VM guest OS is either Windows or Linux.

How to enable a server-side Hyper-V USB redirection

Since a USB device can be only connected to one operating system at a time, we’ll have to disconnect it from the host OS now to make it available to the guest systems.
Open the host machine’s Run prompt and execute the “diskmgmt.msc” command to start the Disk Management console.
 run diskmgmt.msc
Right-click the required disk and choose the Offline option to disconnect it from the host.
 set disk offline on Hyper-V host
After the disk goes offline, open the Hyper-V Manager and select the VM that requires access to the device. Right-click on it and click Settings on the shortcut menu.
In the Settings window, scroll down the local devices in the left-hand menu until you find the SCSI controller.
To set up USB redirection to a Hyper-V or VMware workstation, click + to expand the submenu, choose Hard Drive, and click the Add button.
In the Hard Drive section, pick the Physical Hard Disk option and use the drop-down menu to select the same disk you set offline before.
 add physical hard disk to Hyper-V

Once you click OK, the Virtual Machine will immediately recognize the USB device. If not, you may need to use the VM’s Disk Management Console to add a drive letter. As you can see, it's very similar to redirecting storage devices or other local resources to a VMware workstation. In the same way, you can use this built-in USB redirector to set up a passthrough for a USB dongle.

Hyper-V USB Passthrough via RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol)

Hyper-V USB passthrough with the help of Remote Desktop Connection is ideal for those who don’t want or cannot use VMConnect as their Hyper-V client (as in all the previous methods).

All the difference is that the USB device will be redirected via RDP and connected to an RDP client, instead of VMConnect which attaches a USB device directly to the Hyper-V host.

How to use RDC for Hyper-V USB passthrough

Here is what you’ll need to do to connect a USB device to Hyper-V virtual machine via Remote Desktop Connection.
Firstly, you’ll need to make sure that remote access is enabled for the guest VM. For this, start the VM and open Control Panel.
Select “System and Security” and then “Allow remote access” under the “System” section.
 allow remote access control panel
Both the “Allow remote assistance connections to this computer” and the “Allow remote connections to this computer” boxes must be checked. Then click OK.
 allow remote connections to this computer
Then, to access a Hyper-V USB device, you should open the Run dialog box and execute the mstsc command to launch Remote Desktop Connection.
Expand the “Show options” menu.
 local devices and resources remote desktop connection
Open the “Local resources” tab.
Select “More” in the “Local devices and resources”.
 enable other supported pkug and play devices
Check the box for the “Other supported plug-and-play devices” option and press OK.
 connect to hyper-v vm over rdp
Go back to the “General”. Type in the IP address and username to remote into the VM and click “Connect”.
 connect to hyper-v vm over rdp
Finally, check whether the devices became available in the VM’s File Explorer.

Final Words

Though Hyper-V USB passthrough is not available for users right out of the box, now you know several methods that will help you enable it: attaching USB devices to Hyper-V over TCP/IP with USB Network Gate, redirecting over RDP, or via the Hyper-V virtual machine settings.

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