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Is Your USB Over Ethernet Connection Fast Enough?

Olga Weis Olga Weis Last updated Sep 22, 2021

Remote operation has become a new normal for millions of people worldwide, so some tool that allows you to access remote USB devices is a must-have now. And since almost all modern printers, webcams, and other peripherals are connected via USB ports, a safe way to share a USB over Ethernet with the easy configuration process, zero compatibility issues, and no loss in responsiveness or efficiency is a very convenient option no one's going to refuse.

In this article, we will explore five out-and-out working methods that can significantly help you to speed up your USB to Ethernet connection. On top of that, we’ll also have a look at two other methods that most undoubtedly won’t work, contrary to what many people think. So, in the end, you’ll have all the information you need to shift any USB-Ethernet connection into high gear.

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Opt for a software-based USB Ethernet extender

A purpose-built software solution has all the benefits of a top-notch hardware USB extender without sharing its weak spots.

First and foremost, apps typically have no limit as to the number of USB devices they can share over the network. Plus, they don’t split bandwidth between their ports the way all USB hubs do. So, with a proper extension app, your connection speed won’t dramatically drop if you’ll add a couple more printer units, cameras, or other latency-sensitive isochronous USB peripherals.

Another common problem of USB-Ethernet hardware solutions is static-charge accumulation on every physical USB port on all the hubs, switches, and computers. Software tools mostly rely on virtual ports that don’t accumulate anything, and thus there is no connection speed loss whatsoever.

On top of that, with the right app, you can turn one of your machines into a USB server for free. The only USB over Ethernet open source solution is for Ubuntu users only and won’t do much good for any other operating systems. But some paid apps, like FlexiHub, have a month-long demo period you can use to share a USB device over your network at full speed and don’t get to pay anything for that. Plus, with FlexiHub, you won’t have to install any drivers on your client-side machines.

Set the connection priorities right

Any software USB extending solution worth its money offers several connection modes for different situations. And if you aim for the maximum speed possible, it’s essential to make the right choice.

device connection

For example, FlexiHub has four modes:

  • Direct connection is the fastest one but only available if your server or the machine trying to access the device connected to it has a public IP address, and neither of said PCs is hidden behind a NAT.
  • RDP connection can be a great alternative if a direct connection over IP is unavailable, but it wouldn’t work for non-Windows operating systems. Plus, it’s not as fast as the direct connection over IP.
  • UDP connection is for getting through a NAT with the UDP hole punching technique and thus is a lot slower than the first two.
  • TunnelServer connection uses a private proxy and is the slowest option of them all.

FlexiHub switches for the optimal connection mode automatically, but if you’re using another app, make sure the connection priority is set up in this order: direct connection → RDP connection → UDP connection → Tunnel Server connection.

Use traffic compression

Traffic compression is the most underestimated yet very efficient way to gear up any data transfer process. Any decent USB-Ethernet adapter software leaves it up to you to decide between the best speed and optimal packet size for each specific connection. Sure, for low-speed USB devices, s.a. keyboards, mouses, and dongle keys, there won’t be any significant improvements. Yet for bandwidth- and latency-sensitive isochronous USB devices like scanners, web cameras, or security cameras, the difference in data throughput speed can be fantastic.

Change some port settings

If neither your USB server nor any of the computers you’re going to access a shared USB device from have public IP, but you’re desperate to have a fast connection, you can manually open your router’s TCP port 5000. But don’t use to access any shared license dongles. Here are two good reasons for that: one - dongles are low-speed devices anyway, so you won’t really see any difference, and two - every open port is a doorway, and there is no way to tell who’s going to try entering it.

However, the right software USB extension tool is much safer than any USB hub or hardware USB over LAN adapters can ever hope to be. A traffic encryption algorithm will prevent any unauthorized access to the license USB dongles you share over your network.

Fast USB over Ethernet connections with FlexiHub
30-day demo period

Wired connections are always better

A wired connection is not only more reliable but a lot faster than Wi-Fi. And if you’re using Cat6 cabling, a good USB-Ethernet adapter switch can handle 5 Gbps data throughput, so you’ll be able to share up to 5 devices simultaneously with no decrease in connection speed. And in smaller networks, Cat5e cabling will work for this almost as well as Cat6 one.

Here’s what most certainly won’t work

The first one is all about using a USB 3.0 port instead of USB 2.0 to double the connection speed. In theory, USB 3.0 has a 1 Gbps speed limit, while USB 2.0 can only research up to 480 Mbps. Suppose you have a 1 Gb Ethernet network. In that case, it looks pretty logical to conclude that using a more advanced USB port that is twice as fast as older ones will automatically double the USB-Ethernet connection speed. But, in reality, every LAN is no faster than its slowest device. So unless all your computes, hubs and switches are up-to-date and rated for Gigabit Ethernet, you won’t see any difference between USB 3.0 and 2.0.

And the second one is buying one of those USB Ethernet PoE switches that have so many glittering promises in their descriptions. Recently it’s been some sort of heavy marketing campaign going on trying to sell PoE devices as an ultra-fast connectivity solution. But the harsh truth is they affect neither latency nor connection speed in any way whatsoever.

FlexiHub

Requirements: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and Raspberry Pi.
Size: 8.89MB
Version: 5.2.14094 (6 Sep, 2021)
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