VMware USB passthrough

The virtualization technologies offer lots of benefits when there is a need for running various operating systems at the same time. Hosting multiple guest OSes on the single machine helps you to cut software-related costs but what is more, it allows you to be more flexible when it comes to managing limited IT-resources and process automation. Still and all, despite all its advantages, virtualization has also certain drawbacks that make its use troublesome such as when VMware Workstation does not detect USB device and it does not show up in the device manager.

One problem that is often encountered with virtualization is in enabling the software to fully and reliably forward data from serial and USB devices to the virtual environment. In some cases, you may access the devices from the virtual machine but have issues getting the appliance to function correctly.

Another problem is USB devices can be redirected from the host to the guest OS, but this is not an ideal solution and can be limited by the number of USB ports available to the virtual machine.

In this article, we will discuss some ways to get around this issue and connect USB to VMware virtual machine.

Table of possible solutions:

  1. Advanced solution for VMware USB redirection
  2. How to connect USB to VMware virtual machine with a native method
  3. VMware workstation USB passthrough
  4. VMware ESXi USB passthrough

Advanced solution for
VMware USB redirection

USB Network Gate is a dedicated utility that allows you to direct USB traffic to a virtual machine. The software acts as a wireless connector linking your guest OS and USB peripheral devices that are attached to the local machine or any network-connected computer. The solution works seamlessly with many virtual environments.
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USB Network Gate

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USB Network Gate

VMware USB passthrough with USB Network Gate guide

  1. Install USB Network Gate on the real and virtual machine (VMware Workstation).

  2. Share a USB device on a physical computer which will be the server. This can be the local machine or any network-attached computer.

  3. Connect to the shared USB devices from VMware which will be the client.

  4. The virtual machine will recognize the USB device and present it in Device Manager. The USB peripheral can now be used as if it were directly connected to the virtual machine that you are using.

Why USB Network Gate is the best solution to redirect USB to VMware?

USB Network Gate employs advanced port virtualization technology to enable the sharing of any USB device in a virtual environment. VMware USB passthrough can be easily configured with this dedicated software tool.

Even devices that cannot be redirected by native methods can be shared with USB Network Gate. An example can be seen when attempting to use a keyboard or mouse with a bootable HID interface from VMware ESXi. Native methods are not sufficient to redirect these devices nor other peripherals such as video and audio devices which demand coordinated signal processing. The use of USB Network Gate eliminates this problem.

The unique ability of this USB to VMware software

Enabling any USB device to be forwarded over a local network, Ethernet, or the Internet. This allows VMware workstation USB passthrough to be enacted without any USB devices physically connected to the host machine. Simply installing USB Network Gate on the host and guest machines is all you need to use USB devices in VMware.

This unique ability provided by USB Network Gate opens new opportunities for connecting virtual environments over the network and can be instrumental in working with POS devices, industrial automation systems, and many other applications. Enabling VMware to access USB devices in a simple manner expands the utility of your virtual machines and peripheral devices.

How to connect USB to VMware virtual machine with a native method

  1. When a virtual machine’s window is active, peripheral devices that are attached to the host computer are automatically connected to the guest system rather than the host. (This feature can be disabled by turning off auto connect in the USB Controller panel in the Virtual Machine Settings Editor.)

  2. If all of the virtual machine’s USB ports are occupied when the device is connected, you will be presented with a dialog box. Your options are to free a port by disconnecting one of the USB devices or to ignore the new device. If you choose to ignore the device, it is connected to the host machine.

  3. Specifying which USB devices should be connected to your virtual machine is done through the VM > Removable Devices panel.

The maximum number of devices that can be connected at once is two. Using a hub does not impact this number, as the virtual devices are detected, not the hub.

  1. Each USB port has a menu which displays the devices that are connected to the host and available to the guest VMware. Hovering your mouse over the menu item enables you to click on the device with which you want to connect. In case a device is attached to that port, clicking on a new device releases the first peripheral and connects to the newly selected one.

VMware USB 3 passthrough - connect new USB
  • Releasing a device is done by selecting a port to which it is connected and choosing None in its menu.

  • If the auto-connect feature was disabled when a device is attached to the host machine, you can manually connect it through the VM > Removable Devices menu.
  • VMware workstation USB passthrough

    VMware workstation

    By default, devices attached to the host machine are connected to the VM rather than the host.

    If the device does not connect to the VMware Workstation, you need to redirect the USB device manually. You may also need to do this after powering the VM off or unplugging and re-attaching the device.

    Here is how to configure USB passthrough VMware workstation.

    VMware Workstation should retain the connection to the host machine’s USB port, but if the device does not reconnect and is still available you can redirect it manually by selecting VM > Removable Devices > Device Name > Connect, which will disconnect it from the host.

    VMware ESXi USB passthrough

    Follow these steps to redirect USB devices to VMware ESXi

    1. Log into your VMware vSphere Web Client and access your virtual machine Inventory.

    2. Open the list of virtual machines and select the machine that requires access to USB devices. Right-click and select the “Edit” settings. VMware ESXi USB passthrough: edit settings
    3. Select the “New device” menu and “Host USB device”. Select the “Add” option. Connect USB to VMware ESXi
    4. Now select the device to be added from the drop-down list displayed.

    USB Network Gate

    Requirements for Windows (32-bit and 64-bit): XP/Vista/7/8/10, Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016/2019
    Also available on macOS, Linux OS and Android , 6.08MB size
    Version 8.2.2087 (8th Jan, 2019) Release notes
    Category: CommunicationApplication