One of the challenges faced when operating in a remote desktop setting using RDP is when it is necessary to use a locally attached USB device from within the session. If you are running an application on a remote server using RDP, it can be very difficult to connect a USB device to the remote desktop. This can limit the usefulness of your peripheral USB equipment.
There is a solution to implementing remote desktop USB redirection so your apps can make use of local devices. This article will describe an effective software application that makes it easy to implement USB for remote desktop. The tool uses a simple interface that lets you set up USB passthrough to RDP session with just a few clicks.
A Software solution for redirecting USB traffic to remote desktop sessions
FlexiHub by Electronic Team, Inc is a software tool developed to provide access to USB peripheral devices over the network. When using the app to create a USB remote desktop connection, devices can be used on the remote machines with the same level of functionality as if they had a direct physical connection. The tool makes it easy to share USB to RDP and increase the value of your peripheral devices.
Windows XP (32-bit and 64-bit), Windows Vista (32-bit and 64-bit), Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit), Windows 8 (32-bit and 64-bit), Windows 10 (32-bit and 64-bit), Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2019
Windows, macOS, Linux, Android
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FlexiHub works by sharing the USB ports of the local computer with remote desktop sessions. This makes it possible to access USB devices in remote desktop sessions as soon as they are plugged into the local machine.
FlexiHub offers users a user-friendly and efficient method of setting up USB redirection in remote desktop environments. Unlike some other solutions, there is not a separate server and client portion that needs to be installed. The application presents users with a unified interface that displays all available USB devices and enables them to be connected to the RDP session.
No special system configuration is required to run FlexiHub and it supports a wide range of USB devices.
Users need to create a free FlexiHub account to start using their USB devices with remote machines over a TCP/IP network. A free 7-day trial is offered so you can investigate the power of the application.
After account creation is complete, follow these steps to set up USB over remote desktop connectivity.
Download and install FlexiHub on the computer that is physically attached to the USB device which will be referred to as the server. Machines that will remotely access the USB peripheral over the RDP are called clients and also need to have the application installed.
Launch FlexiHub on the server and client and log into your account with the same ID and password.
Find the USB device you wish to access in the app on the client computer and click Connect.
Once the connection is established the device will immediately be recognized by the client machine.
Helpful FlexiHub features for working with local USB devices on remote desktops
FlexiHub securely transmits data using 2048-bit SSL encryption offering an extra layer of data protection. This keeps your data safe from misuse from other third parties.
FlexiHub automatically detects devices connected to the server. As soon as a peripheral is attached, the app detects it and enables it to be shared with clients. You can use 3D mouse in remote desktop, webcams, keyboards, smart card readers, and share many more types of USB devices quickly and easily.
The application does not require a public IP address since it uses an internal redirection server for sharing USB traffic over RDP. This allows computers that can’t detect the server to still connect an RDP session to the USB device.
FlexiHub does not require you to install USB drives on the remote machine when it connects a USB device to an RDP session.
FlexiHub supports remote desktops running on the Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms. You can connect to a USB device from any protocol including Microsoft Terminal Services, Azure, Hyper-V, VMware, Citrix XenDesktop, and many others.
Potential issues when redirecting USB over RDP
You can use native operating system capabilities to redirect USB traffic to remote desktops but you may run into difficulties. Certain devices work better than others because of issues such as bandwidth and network latency.
An example can be seen with USB devices that need consistency high throughput. Latency may impact their functionality in a VDI session. Another problem can come up with USB 3.0 devices attempting to use a USB 2.0 port on the client.
When selecting USB devices that will be used in a native USB redirection environment, an IT team needs to keep in mind the performance requirements of the peripheral equipment.
Factors to consider when redirecting USB to Remote Desktop
The state of the network is crucial when using USB audio devices. Unreliable networks are not recommended for these devices, as they need high throughput even when idle.
Webcams are not supported by USB redirection due to high bandwidth requirements that usually exceed 60 Mbps.
The performance of USB scanners is directly connected to the network’s state and scans may take longer than anticipated.
WANs can pose latency and reliability issues that impact the performance of USB devices. An example of the problem is illustrated when reading a large file across the WAN. Each read request demands three two-way transfers between the remote desktop and device. A small difference in network latency can be compounded over multiple requests to cause substantial performance degradation.
Performance can be impacted by the file structure used on large USB disks. These can take a considerable amount of time to be recognized in an RDP session after being connected for the first time. Unreliable network links result in multiple retries which reduces performance. Using NTFS instead of FAT as the underlying filesystem can speed up connection time.
USB CD/DVD readers, scanners, and touch devices also exhibit problems when usage is attempted on a WAN that has latency issues.
FlexiHub is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac computers and offers true cross-platform compatibility. Servers and clients in any combination of operating systems can be used to share USB devices over an IP-based network. A server on a specific platform can share devices with clients no matter what OS they are using.
USB devices such as scanners are not prime candidates for redirection due to their high resource demands. One issue is the scanner’s use of back-to-back processes that are affected by network bandwidth or latency. Redirecting traffic from a USB scanner may result in decreased device performance that can hinder productivity.
Download and install FlexiHub on the machine with the physical connection to the peripheral device. Then, install it on the computer that will remotely access the device in a remote desktop session. Open FlexiHub, locate the USB device, and click the Connect button
Requirements: Windows XP/2003/2008/Vista/7/8/10/Server 2012