USB Device Redirection, Configuration, and Usage in View Virtual Desktops


In the 5.1 release of View, VMware introduced some complex configuration options for the usage and management of USB devices in a View virtual desktop session. This white paper gives a high-level overview of USB remoting, discusses the configuration options, and provides some practical worked examples to illustrate how these options can be used.

USB Redirection Overview

We are all familiar with using USB devices on laptop or desktop machines. If you are working in a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment such as View, you may want to use your USB devices in the virtual desktop, too. USB device redirection is a function in View that allows USB devices to be connected to the virtual desktop as if they had been physically plugged into it. Typically, the user selects a device from the VMware Horizon Client menu and selects it to be forwarded to the virtual desktop. After a few moments, the device appears in the guest virtual machine, ready for use.

NPMD data diagram

Figure 1. USB Redirection

Definitions of Terms

In this paper, various terms are used to describe the components involved in USB redirection. The following are some brief definitions of terms:

  • USB redirection – Forwarding of the functions of a USB device from the physical endpoint to the View virtual machine.
  • Client computer, or client, or client machine – Physical endpoint displaying the virtual desktop with which the user interfaces, and where the USB device is physically plugged in.
  • Virtual desktop or guest virtual machine – The Windows desktop stored in the data center that is displayed remotely on the endpoint. This virtual desktop runs a Windows guest operating system, and has the View Agent installed on it.
  • Soft client – Horizon Client in software format, such as a Horizon Client for Windows or Linux. The soft client is installed on a hardware endpoint, such as a laptop, and displays the virtual desktop on the endpoint.
  • Zero client – A hardware-based client used to connect to a View desktop. Stateless device containing no operating system. Delivers the client login interface for View.
  • Thin client – A hardware device similar to a zero client, but with an OS installed. The Horizon Client is installed onto the OS of the thin client. Both devices generally lack local user-accessible storage and simply connect to the virtual desktop in the data center.
  • USB interface – A function within a USB device, such as mouse or keyboard or audio. Some USB devices have multiple functions and are called composite (USB) devices.
  • Composite (USB) device – A USB device with multiple functions, or interfaces.
  • HID – Human interface device. A device with which the user physically interacts, such as mice, keyboards, and joysticks.
  • VID – The vendor identification, or code, for a USB device, which identifies the vendor that produced the device.
  • PID – The product identification, or code, which, combined with the VID, uniquely identifies a USB device within a vendor’s family of USB products. The VID and PID are used within View USB configuration settings to identify the specific driver needed for the device.
  • USB device filtering – Restricting some USB devices from being forwarded from the endpoint to the virtual desktop. You specify which devices will be prevented from being forwarded: individual VID-PID device models, device families, such as storage devices, or devices from specific vendors.
  • USB device splitting – The ability to configure the USB device such that when connected to a View desktop leaves some of the USB interfaces local to the client endpoint, and other interfaces forwarded to the guest. This can result in an improved user experience of the device in a virtual environment.
  • USB Boolean settings – Simple “on” or “off” settings. For example, whether a specific feature is enabled (true) or disabled (false).


Download out the full USB Device Redirection, Configuration, and Usage in View Virtual Desktops white paper.

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