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USB Dongle over Ethernet — 2022 Dongle Sharing Guide

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A common use case for a USB key or a dongle is to store license information for a software package. For the software to be installed or launched, a user needs to insert a device into the computer for it to read the software key. In a multicomputer environment, it is not efficient to reconnect a dongle to different computers or financially viable to purchase a separate USB key for each computer.

In this guide, we will explain how one dongle can be shared across all the computers on your network with the help of USB dongle over Ethernet sharing solutions: Donglify and USB Network Gate.

Donglify — Share USB dongles over the network

Donglify

Donglify is a lightweight application developed with a single function in mind — solving the issue of sharing a security dongle with multiple computers across a network.
Donglify
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Available on Windows 7/8/10, Server 2008 R2/2012/2016/2019/2022, Windows 10 on ARM, macOS 10.14/10.15/11/12 (Intel-based), macOS 11/12 (M1-based)
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Donglify works by creating virtual instances of USB ports to which USB dongles are connected and shares the license information on those dongles with other computers over Ethernet.

Donglify is compatible with Windows and macOS operating systems. All connections initiated by Donglify are encrypted with a 2048-bit SSL key providing maximum security.

 USB dongle sharing

How to share a dongle key with Donglify

Below you’ll find a detailed guide on how to access a single or multiple security keys on remote computers:
1
To share a USB dongle over the network, you will need to create a Donglify account first.
 create Donglify account
2
Once that is done, download Donglify and install it on the client and the server machines.
 installing Donglify
3
Launch Donglify on your server machine. Remember the server is the machine where the physical dongle is attached.
 logging into a Donglify account
4
Click the “+” icon to display a list of available dongles.

  • To connect one security dongle to multiple remote computers at the same time, select the “Multi-connect” feature.
  • The “Single-connect” option will only allow one machine to connect to the shared dongle at a time.
 displaying the list of connected dongles
5
Click the radio button to select the dongle and click “Share”.
 share USB dongle over network
6
Now on the client machine(s), start-up Donglify and log in with the same account details.
7
Select the dongle you want to access and click “Connect”.
 connect to a shared dongle over network
8
After that, your USB key will be available on all connected remote computers as if it was plugged in directly into them.
Share security dongle with Donglify!
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USB Network Gate — Share USB dongles over Ethernet

Electronic Team, Inc. has developed an effective solution for USB device sharing — USB via Ethernet. This USB over Ethernet software explicitly allows you to share USB devices with many different remote devices over Ethernet, LAN, or WAN.

USB Network Gate for dongle sharing

By making use of advanced port virtualization technology, USB Network Gate facilitates the virtual replication of USB ports, and in turn, any devices that are connected to these virtual ports can be redirected over the network to any other machines on the network. This allows the security dongle to be accessible by all the connected machines as if the dongle was physically connected to each computer.

 USB Network Gate

How to share a USB dongle between two computers

The following step-by-step instructions will guide you through the process of connecting a USB dongle to remote computers:

  1. Download USB Network Gate and install it on the server and client machines.

    • • The server is the machine where the dongle is physically connected;
    • • The clients are the machines that will remotely access the dongle.
  2. After installation, start USB Network Gate on the server.

  3. Share a required dongle by clicking the corresponding “Share” button next to it.

  4. Open USB Network Gate on the client and find the dongle you shared in the list of available devices in the “Remote USB devices” tab.

  5. Connect the dongle to a computer over the network by hitting the “Connect” button next to it.

  6. Once you have completed these simple steps, the security key will be accessible to all the client machines, and the device will show up in the clients’ Device Manager as if the dongle was physically connected to it.

It’s important to note that USB Network Gate makes use of advanced encryption for all data transmissions, which means you can rest assured that all the data transferred between the shared dongle and the client machines is secure.

USB over Ethernet
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USB Network Gate supports a wide range of operating systems — Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and Raspberry. The server and client machines can have different operating systems yet still access and utilize the remotely shared USB dongles.

What is a dongle and why share it?

A dongle is a security key that helps to protect both software and hardware. To protect their software from unlicensed installation, some software companies may require a key to be inserted into a USB port for their software to be installed or accessed. The software can also be protected against unlawful copying and distribution by ensuring that the security key must be present for the software to run if at all.

There are different levels of licensing when it comes to a security key. If the dongle allows for network license management, this means the dongle can be shared and accessed simultaneously by multiple clients across LAN. This allows a single key to be used to unlock multiple instances of the software without requiring the purchasing of additional keys.

A network license key is useful but costly and might not be viable for smaller organizations or the general public. A single-user USB key is a more affordable alternative for many users. While more cost-effective, this does pose a problem when different people require access at the same time.

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