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Hyper-V USB Passthrough: Detailed Guide to Attaching USBs to Hyper-V
Olga Weis Olga Weis Last updated Dec 26, 2022

Hyper-V USB Passthrough: Detailed Guide to Attaching USBs to Hyper-V

Using a USB storage or other USB devices while operating a Hyper-V virtual machine (VM) can be challenging because, unlike other hypervisors, it doesn't offer an easy out-of-the-box solution. Before you can access a USB device in Hyper-V, you will need to perform certain steps to enable Hyper-V USB passthrough.

And in this article, you’ll learn ways to enable USB passthrough in Hyper-V: using the built-in tools to transfer files from a USB storage, and sharing complex USB devices to the Hyper-V VM using dedicated software tools.

Attach any kind of USB device to
Hyper-V (Network-level redirection)

It is a known fact that Hyper-V cannot passthrough USB devices other than storage which is super inconvenient when you need to attach, for example, a ZigBee dongle, MFA/2FA dongle, a crypto token, or some other USB device.

To deal with that issue, you can use specialized software for redirecting USB devices over the network.

With FlexiHub, you can connect any type of USB device to a Hyper-V virtual machine and enjoy its functionality.

FlexiHub
4.8 Rank based on 386+ Reviews
share usb over network

The pros and cons of using FlexiHub to access a USB in Hyper-V:

icon pros Pros:

  • Compatibility with multiple platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, Raspberry);
  • Requires almost no configurations;
  • Supports all types of USB devices.

icon cons Cons:

  • USB redirection requires constant network connectivity;
  • A USB device can be connected only to one Hyper-v instance at a time.

FlexiHub is a powerful software designed to make USB devices accessible from any remote computer, be it a PC working in the next room or a virtual machine running on a computer located miles away. This program can be your indispensable tool to enable Hyper-V USB passthrough on Windows 11, Windows Server 2022, and earlier versions.

If you prefer visual instructions, here is a detailed video tutorial on connecting USB devices to Hyper-V VM over the network:

How to connect to USB in Hyper-V - the simple instructions

  • 1.
    First, create an account on the FlexiHub website.
    create a FlexiHub account to connect USB device to Hyper-V
  • 2.
    Then, start your free demo period by confirming your account. blank
  • 3.
    Download the app and install FlexiHub on the Hyper-V host and virtual machines.
    Download FlexiHub for your device
  • 4.
    Start the app on both systems and log in to your FlexiHub account using the same credentials. blank
  • 5.
    Find the required USB device in the app’s interface on the virtual machine and press Connect.
    connect a USB device to Hyper-V

Once done, you can get full access to the device’s functionality and contents as though it were connected directly to your virtual machine.

It’s also worth mentioning that FlexiHub allows the creation of cross-platform connections. It can enable Hyper-V USB passthrough from Linux to Windows, from Windows to Mac, and in many other combinations.

Enable Hyper-V USB passthrough by adding hard drives to SCSI Controller (Server-side redirection)

For this Hyper-V USB passthrough method to work, you need to attach a USB device on the server-side (Hyper-V host), and then enable access to it for the virtual machines.


The pros and cons of this method include:

icon pros Pros:

  • Works with Windows and Linux Hyper-V VM guests;
  • You can control USB storage device access.

icon cons Cons:

  • Complicated setup;
  • Only works with non-removable USB mass storage devices;
  • A USB storage device can be connected only to one system at a time.

How to enable server-side Hyper-V USB passthrough

  • 1.
    First, you need to disconnect your USB device from the host because it can be accessed by only one machine at a time. Hit Win+R on your keyboard to invoke the Run command window and enter diskmgmt.msc to access Disk Management:
    open Disk Management
  • 2.
    Find your USB device in the Disk Management window, right-click on its name, and choose Offline from the menu: Disk Management USB disk set offline Once you do this, your host OS will no longer have access to the USB device.
  • 3.
    Launch the Hyper-V Manager and open the settings of the VM you want to have access to the USB device by right-clicking on its name and choosing Settings from the menu:
    Hyper-V virtual machine settings
  • 4.
    In the left pane, go to Hardware and select the SCSI Controller. Then, pick Hard Drive from the right pane menu and click Add.

    Note: You can add the hard drive to the IDE Controller instead of the SCSI Controller, but be warned that you won’t be able to remove it from the VM without turning off the VM first. So, to avoid the hassle, we recommend adding the drive as the SCSI device which can be removed from a running VM on the contrary.

    Hyper-V SCSI controller
  • 5.
    Go back to the left pane, and click on the hard drive you’ve just added to select it. Now, on the right pane, pick the Physical hard disk option, and select the USB device to add.

Once you click OK, the USB device will appear in your VM’s File Explorer on your Hyper-V VM as if it was directly attached to your virtual machine.

How to disable server-side Hyper-V USB passthrough

Here is what you need to do to safely disconnect a USB device from your Hyper-V VM:

  • 1.
    Open the VM’s settings in the Hyper-V Manager window.
  • 2.
    On the left pane, find the SCSI Controller on the menu and click on the Hard Drive.
  • 3.
    Select the USB device, then click the Remove button in the right pane.

Enabling USB device to Hyper-V passthrough with Enhanced Session Mode (Client-side redirection)

With this method, you can access USB devices in Hyper-V by activating the enhanced session mode from the client-side (guest OS of your VM). During that enhanced session, you can access all the USB devices attached to the host machine from the VM’s operating system.

The pros and cons of Enhanced Session Mode:

icon pros Pros:

  • You can share the USB device access with the host or multiple VMs;
  • You can access USB devices other than USB mass storage types, like flash drives or printers/scanners.

icon cons Cons:

  • A guest VM’s operating system can only be Windows.
  • You need to pre-select USB devices to attach them to a VM before starting the VM.
Tip: If your Hyper-V host is a Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 computer, you may skip to step 4 since enhanced session mode is enabled by default on these systems.
To access USB devices inside Hyper-V with Enhanced Session Mode, follow these steps.
  • 1.
    On a host computer, you go to the Hyper-V Manager, right-click the host's name and choose Hyper-V Settings.
    Hyper-V manager settings
  • 2.
    In the Setting window, you will see the Server and User sections. Select Enhanced Session Mode Policy in the Server section and allow the enhanced session mode by checking the corresponding box.
    enhanced session mode policy
  • 3.
    Now, choose Enhanced Session Mode in the User section and check the “Use enhanced session mode” box, and click OK for the changes to be saved. use enhanced session mode Once you enable the enhanced session mode, your Hyper-V VM’s system obtains full access to all the host’s USB devices.

    Note: At this point, if you have an active session with the Hyper-V VM, terminate it first.

  • 4.
    Start the Hyper-V Manager and double-click the name of your virtual machine.
  • 5.
    In the pop-up window, click “Show Options” to configure your VM’s future connections.
  • 6.
    After that, go to the tab “Local resources” and click “More” in the section “Local devices and resources”.
  • 7.
    Then, check the boxes “Other supported Plug and Play devices” and “Devices that I plug in later”. Hit OK.
  • 8.
    If you want this configuration to be saved for all future connections, check the corresponding box in the “Display” tab. Click “Connect” to implement the changes.

From this point on, you should be able to access the USB devices from your VM’s File Explorer. Double-click on the drives to make sure it’s connected and you can browse its contents.

Hyper-V USB Passthrough via RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol)

The main downside of the Hyper-V USB passthrough access methods we have described above is that neither of them will work if you don’t use Hyper-V Virtual Machine Connection (VMConnect) as your Hyper-V client. So here is another method for those not willing to install additional Hyper-V tools.

The main difference between using Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and VMConnect is that RDP will grant you access to USB devices attached to the RDP client, while with VMConnect you’ll be accessing devices connected to the Hyper-V host.


The pros and cons of RDP for Hyper-V USB passthrough:

icon pros Pros:

  • Works for literally any hypervisor you can name;
  • Instant access to USB devices once the RDP connection is up;
  • Group Policy feature for overall control;

icon cons Cons:

  • Once the RDP session is over, the USB device automatically disconnects;
  • Most probably, you’ll have to install some extra drivers on your VM;
  • Minimal range of supported devices since this used to be a printer-oriented feature;
  • Utterly low bit rate, more often than not;
  • Won’t work on any OS other than MS Windows;
  • This method implies that the host and guest machines are connected to the same network.
To connect a USB device within a remote desktop session to VM Hyper-V, just take the following steps:
  • 1.
    To begin, you should allow Remote Desktop Connections on your guest system. To do this, connect to your virtual machine and find the “System and Security” settings in the Control Panel. Select “Allow remote access.”
    allow remote desktop access
  • 2.
    In the Remote tab of the System Properties window, make sure that both the “Allow remote assistance connections to this computer” and the “Allow remote connections to this computer” boxes are checked and click OK. allow remote connections to this computer Now, if you want to access a Hyper-V USB device, you should initiate a Remote Desktop session.
  • 3.
    Hit Ctrl+R to invoke the Run dialog box and execute the mstsc command to launch the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box.
  • 4.
    Click “Show options” in the Remote Desktop Connection window and go to the “Local Resources” tab. Click “More” in the section “Local devices and resources.”
  • 5.
    Check the “Other supported plug-and-play devices” box in the menu that will open. Hit OK.
  • 6.
    Back in the General tab, enter the IP address of your VM and the username you will be using to log in to it.
  • 7.
    Click “Connect” to start your Remote Desktop session.
  • 8.
    Log in to the VM and check if the USB devices you’ve just added are visible in File Explorer.

Summary

As you can see, enabling Hyper-V USB passthrough is much less tricky when you know the ight steps. Now that you are familiar with several different ways to access a USB device inside a Hyper-V VM, you can choose which method works best for your specific situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hyper-V USB passthrough is a device redirection method that allows you to access the USB device from within a virtual machine.
Hyper-V supports four different methods of USB passthrough you can use to directly access USB devices from a VM: network-level redirection, server-side redirection by attaching the device as a SCSI drive, client-side redirection via the Enhanced Session Mode, and RDP connection.
Enable Hyper-V USB Device Passthrough
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