vSphere USB Passthrough | Add USB Device to Virtual Machine

If you want to read or write files on your physical USB device from a guest operating system on vSphere, how can you do that? In fact, vSphere offers the USB passthrough feature for vSphere add USB device to virtual machine. This article will show you how to configure it.


By Crystal / Updated on March 8, 2023

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Case: vSphere add USB device to virtual machine?


Hello all, about the USB issues on ESXi, I found myself cannot attach an USB disk on a VM client. Could you please show me some available solutions? Thank you!

- Question from communities.vmware.com

VMware vSphere is the well-known server virtualization software suite of VMware. If you want to read or write files on your physical USB device from a guest operating system on vSphere, you may want to add USB device to virtual machine.

To meet this need for customers, vSphere provides the USB passthrough feature, allowing you to add one or more USB passthrough devices from an ESXi host to a virtual machine if the physical devices are connected to the host on which the virtual machine runs. Next, this article will show you how to configure vSphere add USB device to virtual machine.

vSphere add usb device to virtual machine

Prerequisites to vSphere USB passthrough

Before you start, there are several preparations you need to complete in advance to make sure the USB device can be successfully connected.

  • Verify that the virtual machine is compatible with ESX/ESXi 4.0 and later.
  • Verify that a USB controller is present.
  • To use vMotion to migrate a virtual machine with multiple USB devices, enable all attached USB devices for vMotion. You cannot migrate individual USB devices.
  • When you add a CD/DVD-ROM drive that is backed by a USB CD/DVD drive on the host, add the drive as a SCSI device. Hot adding and removing SCSI devices is not supported.
  • Verify that you know the virtual machine requirements for USB devices.
  • Required privileges: Virtual Machine.Configuration.HostUSBDevice

Then you can refer to the following steps to configure vSphere USB passthrough.

How to configure vSphere add USB device to virtual machine

1. Log in vSphere web client, right the target virtual machine in the inventory and select Edit Settings.

2. On the Virtual Hardware tab, click the Add New Device button, and select Host USB Device from the drop-down menu.

Host USB Device

3. The new USB device appears at the bottom of the Virtual Hardware device list. Expand New USB Device, and select the device to add. You can add multiple USB devices, but only one device at a time.

New Host USB Device

Note: If you do not plan to migrate a virtual machine with USB devices attached, deselect the Support vMotion option. This action reduces migration complexity, which results in better performance and stability.

4. Click OK to save.

Necessary data protection measure: virtual machine backup

It is always necessary to back up your important data before any risky operation. To backup vSphere VMs, you may need an effective backup software to gain the ability to quickly recover your virtual machines when needed.

In this article, I will introduce an efficient free vSphere backup software - AOMEI Cyber Backup, which enables you to backup multiple VMs either managed by vCenter Server, or on a standalone ESXi host.

It simplifies the backup process and present the steps with intuitive GUI interface. In addition, it offers you the following benefits.

Agentless Backup: create complete and independent image-level backup for VMware ESXi and Hyper-V VMs.
Flexible vSphere Backup: batch backup large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server, or multiple VMs on a standalone ESXi host.
Multiple Storage Destinations: backup to local drive, or network destinations like NAS.
Automated Execution: create backup schedules to automate backups daily, weekly, monthly.
Role Assignment: allows one administrator to create sub-accounts with limited privileges.

AOMEI Cyber Backup supports both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi 6.0 and later versions. Next, I will show you how to perform vSphere VM backup via AOMEI Cyber Backup. You can click the following button to download the freeware.

Download FreewareVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
Secure Download

*You can choose to install this VM backup software on either Windows or Linux system.

Steps to perform vSphere backup and restore via AOMEI Cyber Backup

1. Bind Devices: Access to AOMEI Cyber Backup web client, navigate to Source Device > VMware > + Add VMware Device to Add vCenter or Standalone ESXi host. And then click > Bind Device.

Add VMware ESXi host

2. Create Backup Task: Navigate to Backup Task > + Create New Task, and select VMware ESXi Backup as the Backup Type.

3. Set the Task Name, Device, Target, Schedule and Cleanup as needed.

  • Task Name: you can change the task name or use the default name with an ordinal.
  • Device: batch backup multiple VMs on vCenter or standalone host within one backup task.

Select virtual machines vCenter

  • Target: select to back up to a local path, or to a network path like NAS.
  • Schedule (optional): perform full, differential, or incremental backup, and automate execution according to the frequency you specified.

Backup schedule type

4. Run Backup: Now you can click Start Backup and select Add the schedule and start backup now, or Add the schedule only.

Start Backup

Created backup tasks will be listed and monitored separately for restoring, progress checking and schedule changing.


With vSphere virtualization technology you can create secure virtualized environment to perform various tests and developments. Sometimes you may read or write files on your physical USB device from a guest operating system, in this regard, VMware provides USB passthrough feature to allow vSphere add USB device to virtual machine.

This article shows you the steps of how to connect a USB device to a virtual machine on vSphere. If you want to know how to connect a USB device to a virtual machine on Hyper-V, you can refer to 4 Ways to Hyper-V USB Passthrough | Access USB in Hyper-V VM.

Crystal · Editor
Crystal is an editor from AOMEI Technology. She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. She is a positive young lady likes to share articles with peolpe. Off work she loves travelling and cooking which is wonderful for life.