External devices (such as USB storage drives) are invaluable tools for your home or small business. With them you can expand your storage capacity and backup files. Because of some of the work I do (such as working with numerous Virtual Machines), I occasionally need to share a USB connected device over my network. In my search to make this possible and easy, I came across a product called USB Network Gate. With this handy app, I can quickly share out a USB device to make it available on another network-attached machine. This makes it incredibly convenient to save files to that external drive, from any machine on my network (so long as said machine has the app installed).

How is this done? Let me show you.

Getting and installing the app

The first thing you must do is download and install the app. USB Network Gate is available for Linux, macOS, Windows, and Android. For my test purposes, I installed the app on Elementary OS and Windows 10. I attempted to install the app on both Ubuntu 17.10 and Fedora 26, only to find a ZLIB dependency issue that couldn’t be resolved. I’ve reached out to the company to see if that issue can be fixed. In the meantime, let’s install it on supported platforms.

It should be noted, that USB Network Gate isn’t free. You can use a 14-day trial (wherein you can only share one device). After that you will have to pony up the full freight. I’ll warn you, the cost is hefty:

  • 1 USB port–$199.95
  • 2 USB ports–$299.95
  • 10 USB ports–$699.95

If you’re willing to pay up, I can happily say the product works exactly as promised. It’s incredibly easy to use and very reliable.

To install the app on Windows, it’s as simple as any–download the executable, double-click the downloaded file, and walk through the installer. The only hiccup will be during the installation. You’ll be asked if the installation will share and connect to devices or only connect to devices (Figure A).

Figure A

Select the choice that reflects the needs of the installation. If your device will both share and connect, click accordingly.

The installation for Linux is almost as simple (at least on supported distributions). I’ll demonstrate with Elementary OS. Here are the steps:

  1. Download the .deb file from the USB Network Gate download page.
  2. Open a terminal window.
  3. Change into the directory housing the downloaded file.
  4. Install with the command sudo dpkg -i usb_network_gate_x64.deb
  5. Add your user to the necessary group with the command sudo usermod -a -G eveusb $USER
  6. Logout and log back in.

The installation might error out. When it does, fix the issue with the command sudo apt install -f. That’s it. USB Network Gate is now installed. Make sure to install this app on any machine you have on your network that needs to either share out or connect to USB devices.

Sharing a device

Open up the USB Network Gate application on the machine that has the connected USB drive to be shared. Select the device you want to share and click the Share button (Figure B).

Figure B

When you click Share, a new window will appear where you can configure the sharing options (Figure ). If you want to enable password authorization, click Enable authorization and then enter a password. Click OK and the share will be available.

Figure C

Your share is ready.

Connecting to a share

Install USB Network Gate on another machine on your network. Once installed, open it up and the shared drive will automatically appear in the Remote USB Devices tab (Figure D). Select the shared device and click Connect. If you configured the share with a password, enter the password and your remote USB drive will be available to the local machine.

Figure D

And that’s all there is to using USB Network Gate.

A simple solution to a challenging problem

If you’re looking to share out your USB devices over a network, it doesn’t get easier than USB Network Gate. This is a simple solution to a problem that very well might have been a challenge to a lot of IT pros. Give this tool a go, and make your USB over network needs a reality.