USB For Remote Desktop: A Definitive Guide

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One of the challenges faced when operating over the RDP protocol is when it is necessary to use local USB devices inside the remote desktop session. If you are running an application on a remote server using RDP, it can be very difficult to connect some USB devices to the remote desktop.

This article will describe an effective software application that makes it easy to enable remote desktop USB redirection. Read on to learn the detailed steps for connecting USBs to remote desktop, and find out what challenges may arise when using USB over RDP.

Software for redirecting USB devices in remote desktop

FlexiHub

Windows, macOS, Linux, Android
4.8 Rank based on 78+ users
FlexiHub by Electronic Team, Inc is a software tool developed to provide access to USB peripheral devices over the network for use in remote desktop sessions.
FlexiHub

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.

FlexiHub makes it easy accessing USB devices in remote desktop session, and avoid most common issues related to redirecting USB over RDP.

FlexiHub works by sharing the USB ports of the local computer with remote desktop instances. 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 devices for remote desktop USB passthrough.

No special system configuration is required to run FlexiHub and it supports a wide range of USB devices.

How to redirect USB to remote desktop

Follow these steps to connect USBs to remote desktop:
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1
Create a 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.
 register flexihub account
2
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.
 download flexihub
3
Launch FlexiHub on the server and client and log into your account with the same ID and password.
 login to flexihub to use usb in remote desktop
4
Find the USB device you wish to access in the app on the client computer and click Connect.
 connect usb to remote desktop
6
Once the connection is established the device will immediately be recognized by the client machine.

Here is the demonstration of FlexiHub in action, and how it connects USBs to remote desktop:

Advanced FlexiHub features for using USB in remote desktop


  1. FlexiHub securely transmits data using 2048-bit SSL encryption offering an extra layer of data protection. This keeps your data safe from misuse by other third parties.
  2. 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.
  3. The application does not require a public IP address since it uses a proprietary redirection server for sharing USB devices. This allows computers that can’t detect the server to still connect an RDP session and the USB device.
  4. FlexiHub does not require you to install USB drives on the remote machine when it connects a USB device to an RDP session.
  5. 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.

Redirecting USB over RDP protocol - potential difficulties

You can use native operating system capabilities to redirect USB devices over RDP but you may run into difficulties. Certain devices work better than others because of certain issues such as bandwidth and network latency.

An example can be seen with USB devices that need consistently 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 sharing USB devices over RDP, an IT team needs to keep in mind the performance requirements of the peripheral equipment.

Use USB in remote desktop without limitations
7-day trial subscription

Factors to consider when sharing USB over RDP

  • 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 when forwarding USB over remote desktop due to high bandwidth requirements that usually exceed 60 Mbps.
  • The performance of USB scanners is directly related 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 a 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

USB redirection (Universal Serial Bus redirection) is a technology that enables users to access peripheral devices connected to a USB port from remote applications or desktop sessions.
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.
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

FlexiHub

Requirements: Windows XP/2003/2008/Vista/7/8/10/Server 2012
Size: 6.97MB
Version: 4.1.12932 ()
User rating: (4.8 based on 78+ users)