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Hyper-V USB Drive Passthrough

Sep 13, 2021
Hyper-V USB Drive

The ability to use local resources during Hyper-V or VMware ESX, connecting a virtual machine to external storage equipment is critical for many hypervisor users. It can be very convenient to connect Hyper-V to a USB drive to create backups.

The common problem here is that an out-of-the-box Hyper-V or VMware workstation has very limited USB connectivity. That’s why you need to set up a USB passthrough to access local devices of all sorts, not only USB drives but also printers, USB dongle keys, SCSI, and PnP devices.

In this article, we’re going to mainly focus on adding local USB drives to Hyper-V.

Software-based Hyper-V USB drive redirection

A purpose-built software solution is the most convenient way to enable USB passthrough of USB devices from the Hyper-V or VMware workstation to the guest virtual machines.

USB Redirector is an advanced software application that enables you to access USB drives on your Hyper-V virtual guests’ machines. It allows you to connect to USB drives attached to a Hyper-V host via RDP on all popular operating systems, i.a., Windows and Linux. The software also lets you access any network-attached USB over Ethernet from a physical or virtual machine.

Redirect USB Drive to Hyper-V
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Here is an easy to follow step-by-step guide for Hyper-V USB Drive Redirection:

  1. 1
    Download USB_Network_Gate.exe from the official website and install the app on the physical host and virtual guest machines:
     USB to Ethernet connector
  2. 2
    Share the USB drive on the physical machine, which is designated as the server. This can be the host or any network-attached machine:
     Remote USB devices tab
  3. 3
    After the device is shared from the server, it can be connected to a client machine. Use USB Network Gate to establish this connection:
     USB remote connection
  4. 4
    Your Hyper-V Device Manager will display the shared USB drive. At this point, the virtual machine can use the dongle just as if it had a direct physical connection to the equipment.
     Share USB device

Hardware-based Hyper-V USB drive redirection

Using a USB hub is the most popular hardware-based method of USB redirection over Ethernet. It’s a piece of equipment that can extend the capability of a network or computer to connect to multiple USB devices. The hub essentially turns a single USB interface into an avenue that many local resources can traverse simultaneously. USB hubs are available in a wide variety of styles which can address the needs of virtually any installation.

With the help of a smartly picked hub, you can connect some of your USB-based peripheral equipment (e.g. USB dongle keys) located anywhere on your network from a Hyper-V session. You won’t even need to physically attach the said equipment to the computer that hosts your virtual machines.

Using this method entails buying the hub and may require you to install software and drivers to provide its functionality. This can be problematic, as installing additional software on the Hyper-V Server forces you to use the Windows Server Core command-line interface.

Connect USB drive to Hyper-V VM with Network USB Hub

You will not have this issue with this USB Redirector and the software solution is fully scalable, which cannot be said for USB hubs. You will be constrained by the number of USB ports that the device provides.

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