Using USB Devices in Virtual Machines on VMware ESX

I’ve been getting this question a lot lately – “Can I use USB devices or dongles inside a Virtual Machine on ESX?”

The out-of-the-box answer is No. USB devices are not supported within the VM on ESX 3.5. That being said, there are a few companies that have gotten excellent reviews and are very popular on the VMware Community Forums that provide USB functionality.

The most popular way of presenting USB devices in Virtual Machines on ESX that I’ve heard/seen is from Digi International, which has a product called AnywhereUSB. Follow the link for additional info on the product.
They have also published a VMware Branded Technical Note (whitepaper) entitled VMware ESX Server: Using AnywhereUSB to Connect USB Devices

FabulaTech is another popular way. A good post regarding it can be found here:
http://www.ntpro.nl/blog/archives/897-Passing-USB-devices-to-the-Virtual-Machines.html

Update to the post:
I came across a recent post over at VMetc mentioning a couple more temporary plus permanent options for using USB over IP:
http://vmetc.com/2009/03/11/connecting-a-usb-device-to-an-esx-hosted-vm/

A few other links of companies that have gotten good reviews to allow USB access in VM’s:
http://www.kernelpro.com/usb-over-ethernet.html (Inexpensive, starts at $89!)
http://usbip.sourceforge.net (Open Source Project for USB over IP)

Enjoy!

This entry was posted in Virtualization, VMware by virtualdennis. Bookmark the permalink.

About virtualdennis

I have over 18 years helping small to large enterprise businesses nationwide with their enterprise storage, backup and recovery, disaster recovery and system virtualization solutions. He holds numerous storage and virtualization certifications and has personally delivered over 300 complex enterprise solution implementations. He has been privileged to speak at various national events on the topics of datacenter virtualization, end-user virtualization, hyper-converged infrastructure and disaster recovery.

4 thoughts on “Using USB Devices in Virtual Machines on VMware ESX

  1. It looks like ESX 4.0 supports USB devices. I added it into the VM configuration but I can’t seem to find a way to forward it from the host to the VM. I’m trying to use the vSphere Client to do this…

  2. http://www.kernelpro.com/usb-over-ethernet.html (Inexpensive, starts at $89!)

    Beware of kernel pro they are far from inexpensive, for $89 you only unusable software. Basically they selling a client server solution but when you purchase the software (single license) its for only the client or the server and for only 1 usb device at a time.

    They do not mention this during the purchasing process and do not reply when querying about such scaly tactics. I would recommend going with AnywhereUSB instead of this unprofessional and horrid company.

    It is really sad because the Demo version works really well.

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