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Olga Weis Olga Weis Last updated May 22, 2024

Efficiently‌ ‌Share‌ ‌USB‌ ‌Devices:‌ ‌Over‌ ‌The‌ ‌Network‌ ‌&‌ ‌Between‌ ‌2‌ ‌Computers‌

The most efficient way to share‌ a ‌USB ‌device‌ depends on the physical distance between the computer with the device plugged into it and the one you’re trying to access the device from.

In this article, we’re going to cover both long-distance USB sharing over the network, and short-distance USB‌ ‌sharing with the help of a ‌hardware‌ ‌USB‌ ‌switch.‌ ‌Find out more about the pros‌ and‌ ‌cons of each method to decide what will best suit your specific situation.‌
Share USB devices

Sharing ‌USB ‌over‌ ‌the network‌

At‌ one point or another ‌point‌, you might need ‌to‌ access‌ ‌a‌ ‌printer, scanner, webcam, or a dongle key ‌plugged‌ into‌ ‌another‌ ‌computer.‌ ‌If‌ ‌that‌ ‌computer‌ ‌is‌ ‌within‌ ‌your‌ ‌reach,‌ ‌there won’t be too hard to reconnect the device from there to your machine.

But what if you’ll have to do that with multiple devices dozens of times a day every day? It will be extremely inconvenient, and the level of wear and tear your devices will be subjected to with constant replugging substantially reduces their lifespan. And what if another machine is located‌ ‌miles‌ ‌away‌, so you’ll have to drive for hours there and back to reattach the device?

That’s when USB ‌sharing‌ ‌software‌ will come in handy.
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share usb over network
FlexiHub is rightly considered to be one of the most convenient and easy-to-use USB device-sharing software tools today’s market has to offer. With its help, you can not only access USB peripherals attached to remote machines but also make your local devices accessible over the network in a couple of mouse clicks.

How‌ ‌does‌ ‌FlexiHub‌ ‌work‌?‌

By‌ ‌using‌ ‌FlexiHub‌, ‌you’ll‌ ‌be‌ ‌able‌ ‌to‌ ‌share‌ ‌a USB ‌over‌ ‌the network‌ ‌regardless‌ ‌of‌ the‌ ‌distance‌ ‌between‌ ‌them - whether they are‌ ‌located‌ ‌in‌ ‌different‌ ‌rooms‌ ‌or‌ ‌the‌ ‌opposite‌ ‌hemispheres.‌ ‌

FlexiHub works by virtualizing a USB device and transmitting data to the remote computer over the network. There, FlexiHub converts the TCP/IP packets back to conventional USB data.
Here are just some of the main FlexiHub features you can benefit from:
  • Cross-platform: FlexiHub will provide you with smooth, trouble-free connectivity to real and cloud-based virtual machines that run on different OS platforms.
  • Surefire connectivity: thanks to the private redirection server, you can connect USB devices even if a machine has no public IP address or is hidden behind NAT.
  • Top security: all USB traffic will be encrypted with the advanced 2048-bit SSL algorithm to eliminate any risk of unauthorized access.
  • Traffic optimization: you can choose the level of data compression you prefer, depending on how many bandwidth- and latency-sensitive devices you use.
  • Auto-connect: you don’t even need to keep FlexiHub running to have a failed connection automatically restored.
  • Login tokens: grant other people access to your FlexiHub account without sharing your login credentials.

How to share USB devices over the network

For your convenience, we've created an easy-to-follow guide on what steps to take to share USB over the network:
  • 1.
    Register FlexiHub account
    Register your FlexiHub account to get a free demo. blank
  • 2.
    Download and install it
    Download FlexiHub and install it on the computer with a USB device you wish to share and also on all the computers that will connect to the device over the network. Once installed, launch the application and sign in to your account.
    launch and log in FlexiHub
  • 3.
    Connect device
    On a remote computer, find your USB device in the list shown in the FlexiHub interface, and click the "Connect" button next to it.
    connect usb over network
  • 4.
    That's it!
    That's how easy it is to arrange for a USB device located halfway around the world to show up in your computer's Device Manager.
    device connected in FlexiHub

FAQ‌: sharing USB over network

USB sharing is a process or action that lets you share USB devices and access them remotely over a network. In most cases, this can be achieved using purpose-specific software solutions that allow you to use remotely attached peripherals as if they were physically connected to your machine.
For sharing a USB device over the network, you need an Internet-connected computer, a cable to connect a USB device to the computer (if required), and a FlexiHub account. Attach the device to your local machine with a cable, and start FlexiHub. Then, run FlexiHub on the remote machine, find the device you wish to access, and click "Connect" next to its name. And that is how to access and share a USB device over the network.

USB‌ ‌switch‌ - for sharing USB‌ ‌devices ‌between‌ ‌two‌ ‌computers‌

USB switch is a compact device for sharing ‌one‌ or more ‌USB peripherals ‌between ‌two‌ ‌computers‌ at the same time that are located near each other.
USB sharing switch
For instance, you can connect your office printer or MFD to a USB ‌3.0‌ ‌sharing‌ ‌switch‌ and make it accessible from your and your colleague’s machines without having to reconnect any cables every time you need it.

Using a USB ‌device‌ switch‌ doesn’t require a network connection. You‌ ‌can ‌share‌ ‌memory‌ sticks,‌ ‌external‌ drives,‌ ‌card‌ readers,‌ ‌license dongles, etc., ‌with‌ ‌other‌ ‌users and throw‌ ‌over‌ ‌a‌ ‌whole‌ ‌bunch‌ ‌of‌ ‌USB‌ ‌devices‌ ‌from‌ ‌one‌ ‌machine‌ ‌to‌ ‌another‌ ‌just‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌push‌ ‌of‌ ‌a‌ ‌button.‌

Some USB switches also support Auto-Switch function when used with USB-enabled printer or printing function on a MFP (multi-function printer). With the switch software installed on connected computers, you simply send the print job and the switch will automatically makes the swap for you. This can be handy when the USB switch is located behind the desk or somewhere hard to reach.
Here’s is an easy-to-follow guide on how‌ ‌to‌ ‌connect‌ ‌one‌ ‌USB ‌device‌ ‌to‌ ‌two‌ ‌computers‌ using a USB ‌switch‌ ‌selector‌:‌ ‌
  1. Plug‌ ‌the‌ ‌USB‌ ‌device‌ ‌(or‌ ‌a‌ ‌USB‌ ‌hub‌ ‌with‌ ‌some‌ ‌devices‌ ‌attached)‌ ‌you’d‌ ‌like‌ ‌to‌ ‌share‌ ‌into‌ ‌the‌ ‌USB‌ ‌‌peripheral‌ sharing‌ ‌switch.‌

  2. Now‌ ‌connect‌ ‌your‌ ‌USB‌ ‌switch‌ ‌between‌ ‌two‌ ‌computers‌ ‌you‌ ‌want‌ ‌to‌ ‌share‌ ‌USB‌ ‌peripherals‌ ‌with.‌

  3. Whenever‌ ‌you‌ ‌need‌ ‌to‌ ‌use‌ ‌your‌ ‌USB‌ ‌peripherals‌ ‌on‌ ‌another‌ ‌PC,‌ ‌just‌ ‌push‌ ‌the‌ selector ‌button‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌switch‌ ‌to‌ ‌flip‌ ‌them‌ ‌over.‌ ‌And‌ ‌that‌ ‌would‌ ‌be‌ ‌it,‌ ‌as‌ ‌easy‌ ‌as‌ ‌one-two-three.‌

Are USB switches safe to use?

In most cases, using a USB ‌switch‌ ‌hub‌ is considered safe. These devices’ failures have next to no chance to cause any physical damage to your PC or laptop because they do not use the power and data pins for USB 2.0 backward compatibility.

However, some of the cheap no-name USB ‌A/B ‌switch‌ boxes use a USB-A port as an input which can potentially short the +5V lines on devices and can lead to cable overheating up to a fire hazard level. So unless you have special-purpose safe USB 3.0 debug cables to connect the USB ‌switch‌ ‌between‌ ‌two‌ ‌computers‌, avoid purchasing and using devices with USB-A input.

What is best for USB sharing?

When‌ ‌choosing‌ ‌between‌ ‌software‌ ‌and‌ ‌hardware‌ ‌methods‌ ‌to‌ ‌share‌ ‌USB‌ ‌devices‌ ‌between‌ ‌multiple‌ ‌computers,‌ ‌users‌ ‌usually‌ ‌take‌ ‌into‌ ‌consideration‌ ‌the‌ ‌following‌ ‌important‌ ‌factors:‌
  • The max number ‌of USB devices‌ ‌shared‌ ‌in parallel. Software‌ ‌solutions‌ ‌like‌ ‌FlexiHub‌ ‌have‌ ‌a‌ ‌clear‌ ‌advantage‌ ‌over‌ ‌any hardware‌ ‌USB ‌switch‌ box ‌on‌ ‌that‌ ‌front.‌ ‌Software‌ ‌applications‌ ‌have‌ ‌no‌ ‌limitations‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌number‌ ‌of‌ ‌devices‌ ‌to‌ ‌share‌, ‌while‌ ‌a‌ ‌hardware‌ ‌tool‌ ‌is‌ ‌always‌ ‌limited‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌number‌ ‌of‌ ‌USB‌ ‌ports‌ ‌it‌ ‌has.‌

  • Working distance. Thanks‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌ability‌ ‌to‌ ‌redirect‌ ‌USB‌ ‌device‌ ‌data‌ ‌over‌ ‌the‌ ‌network‌,‌ the‌ ‌software‌ ‌solutions‌ ‌allow‌ ‌connecting‌ ‌to‌ ‌devices‌ ‌from‌ ‌anywhere‌ ‌no‌ ‌matter‌ ‌the‌ ‌device‌ ‌location,‌ ‌whereas‌ ‌hardware‌‌ devices are‌ ‌limited‌ ‌by‌ ‌the‌ ‌distance.‌

  • The‌ ‌ease‌ ‌of‌ ‌use. All‌ ‌that‌ ‌is‌ ‌required‌ ‌for‌ ‌sharing‌ ‌a‌ ‌device‌ ‌with‌ ‌FlexiHub‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌couple‌ ‌of‌ ‌mouse‌ ‌clicks.‌ ‌No‌ ‌complicated‌ ‌settings,‌ ‌wiring,‌ ‌or‌ ‌configurations.‌

  • The‌ ‌price. Hardware‌ ‌USB‌ ‌switches‌ ‌are‌ ‌usually‌ ‌chosen‌ ‌because‌ ‌of‌ ‌their‌ ‌affordable‌ ‌price.‌ ‌But‌ ‌taking‌ ‌into‌ ‌account‌, ‌the‌ ‌powerful‌ ‌feature‌ ‌set‌ ‌offered‌ ‌by‌ ‌the‌ USB‌ sharing software,‌ additional functionality and security are worth investing.‌

FAQ: sharing a USB device between 2 computers

Most of the USB switches in today’s market are ‌bidirectional. But to be extra sure, you need to check the device’s specification before making a purchase.
There are two ways to share a USB device between 2 computers. If your computers are in the same room, you can use a compact and budget-friendly USB switch. If the distance is significant and a device cannot be connected directly, the most efficient way is to share a USB device over the network using FlexiHub.
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