Full disclosure: I requested a discount to purchase USB Network Gate in return for writing this review. However, I kept my review as objective as possible.
USB Network Gate is an interesting and unique solution to many problems. In my particular case, I needed to have access to multiple hard drives across several mac and windows computers and also be able to share input devices among them.
To use the same hard drives across multiple computers, I was using the traditional method of unplugging each drive from one computer and plugging it into another computer. This can work fine for occasionally doing so with small, portable hard drives that are powered by the same USB cable that transfers the data. However, this process can quickly get inconvenient and burdensome when it needs to be done several times a day, especially with desktop hard drives that also have a power supply cord.
USB Network Gate provides a unique solution to this problem: It lets me leave all my hard drives connected to a single computer with USB Network Gate installed and easily access them from any other computer that also has USB Network Gate installed. So no more un-plugging, re-plugging and physically moving around the hard drives—saving a great amount time and effort.
I found the app itself to be very straightforward to use: on the Host side, click on the "Share" button next to the device I want to share and on the Client side, click on the "Connect" button next to that same device.
I tested USB Network Gate across the following operating systems:
Host side || Client side
(1) Mac Pro [OS X El Capitan 10.11.2] || Macbook Pro [OS X El Capitan 10.11.2]
(2) Mac Pro [OS X El Capitan 10.11.2] || Lenovo Miix 2 PC [Windows 10]
(3) Mac Pro [OS X El Capitan 10.11.2] || Windows 10 running on VMware on the same Mac
1. Samsung D3 Station 4TB USB 3.0 External Hard drive
2. PNY 256GB USB 3.0 Flash drive
3. Monoprice USB Mouse
4. Logitech G13 Gameboard
I mainly needed to access the Samsung HD and the PNY Flash drive (which are connected to the Mac Pro) with the Macbook Pro and the Lenovo Miix 2 Windows PC. These connected quickly and without any issues. Both these drives appear on the Client computers as being directly connected to their respective USB ports, just as USB Network Gate promises.
I have a spare Monoprice (generic) USB mouse connected to my Mac Pro just as a backup. Purely for testing purposes, I shared this mouse and connected to it with the Lenovo Miix 2 Windows PC. Once again, the connection was quick and the mouse worked smoothly without any hiccups.
I have VMware running Windows 10 on my Macs to be able to run some windows-only software. I use Logitech's programmable G13 gameboard with application-specific custom shortcuts across both Mac and Windows. So when I launch VMware Windows 10 on the Mac, I usually need to manually unplug and replug this device so I can use it inside VMware Windows 10. Now with USB Network Gate, I can have this gameboard plugged in and just connect to it from within Windows 10 without having to physically mess around with the USB plug. This may not sound like a big deal, but not having to do this several times a day saves me from a lot of inconvenience.
There is a lot of software out there with little support from their developers, and I am happy to report that USB Network Gate is an exception. During my testing, the developer responded quickly to all my concerns and helped me understand how this application works so I can get the most out of it.
If you need a solution to share a USB device between 2 or more computers without having to physically unplug the device repeatedly, I highly suggest giving USB Network Gate a try.
1. Effortlessly works with many types of USB devices.
2. Easy to setup and use, even between different operating systems.
3. Connection is stable.
4. Excellent support from developer.
1. A bit expensive, but worth it in many cases.
2. Can be a bit tricky to identify between multiple, identical devices, but this can be solved by labeling the USB ports within USB Network Gate.