USB redirection

What is USB redirection?

USB redirection is a technology that enables an end user to plug an external device into a USB port on their endpoint and access the device from within a remote desktop or application.

The redirection process involves forwarding the USB device's functionality from a local device to a virtual desktop over the network. USB redirection works on both wide area networks and local area networks, but it is often easier over a LAN because LANs usually provide a stronger network connection than WANs.

Organizations supporting USB redirection on virtual desktops must use servers that are compatible with the remote display protocol in their virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) software. Redirection capabilities also depend on the version of VDI software a company uses.

Administrators can choose which USB devices they allow users to redirect. Common USB devices that are candidates for redirection include flash and other storage drives, smart card devices and printers, as well as audio, video and image devices. Some devices, such as scanners and audio or video devices, require a lot of bandwidth and can increase latency. Some USB redirection tools block certain device types altogether. Other USB devices, such as mice and keyboards, are integrated into the VDI software already.

Citrix supports USB redirection through its HDX remote display technologies. VMware uses the Horizon client's command-line interface, and Microsoft can use Remote Desktop Protocol for USB redirection.

This was last updated in May 2023

Continue Reading About USB redirection

Dig Deeper on Virtual and remote desktop strategies

Enterprise Desktop
Cloud Computing