When a virtual machine is running, its window is the active window. If you plug a USB device into the host system, the device connects to the virtual machine instead of the host by default. If a USB device connected to the host system does not connect to a virtual machine at power on, you must manually connect the device to the virtual machine.

When you connect a USB device to a virtual machine, Workstation retains the connection to the affected port on the host system. You can suspend or power off the virtual machine, or unplug the device. When you plug in the device again or resume the virtual machine, Workstation reconnects the device. Workstation retains the connection by writing an autoconnect entry to the virtual machine configuration (.vmx) file.

If Workstation cannot reconnect to the device, for example, because you disconnected the device, the device is removed and Workstation displays a message to indicate that it cannot connect to the device. You can connect to the device manually if it is still available.

Follow the device manufacturer's procedures for unplugging the device from the host computer when you physically unplug the device, move the device from host system to a virtual machine, move the device between virtual machines, or move the device from a virtual machine to the host computer. Following these procedures is especially important for data storage devices, such as zip drives. If you move a data storage device too soon after saving a file and the operating system did not actually write the data to the disk, you can lose data.

When a particular USB device is connected to a virtual machine for the first time, the host detects it as a new device named VMware USB Device and installs the appropriate VMware driver.

You can disable the autoconnect feature if you do not want USB devices to connect to a virtual machine when you power it on.

On Linux hosts, Workstation uses the USB device file system to connect to USB devices. If the USB device file system is not located in /proc/bus/usb, you must mount the USB file system to that location.

To connect USB human interface devices (HIDs) to a virtual machine, you must configure the virtual machine to show all USB input devices in the Removable Devices menu.

To install a PDA driver in a virtual machine, you must synchronize the PDA with the virtual machine.