There are two computers. The first one is the client, the second one is the server. The client needs access to some files on the server.

On the server it is possible for me to install any software (Ubuntu with root access). The client is WindowsXP and I cannot install anything. However there is an USB-port to which I can connect storage devices.

Is there a way (hardware and/or software) which I can use to connect the two computers with USB?

I could imagine a software for my server which uses USB to act as a simple storage device for the client connected to the other end of the USB cable.


USB is an asymmetrical, master-slave interface: there is one host controller that handles many devices. Host-controller is a bus master: it initiates all transfers on the bus, thus requesting a reply from addressed device on other side. A host controller cannot work in a slave mode, i.e. as a device (you can still have a host controller and device controller connected to same physical port; this is called USB OTG, but is present only in some printers, cameras and PDAs. AFAIK, there are no PC USB OTG controllers), and therefore you cannot directly connect two PC's with USB cable.

So you need a special 'cable' that is really a device which behaves as a device to two host controllers. They are not very expensive; this one should work fine.

  • 1
    Great answer, explaining why such thing can't work, and proposing an alternative, +1. The device you propose in link seems to avoid the problem of needing a software on both ends to transfer files, which is for most other solutions, nice. However, this behaves like a storage device for both ends, and there is no way to "pull" data from one computer. It would require, I guess, some automatic copy of the needed files on the XP computer.
    – Gnoupi
    Jan 22 '10 at 14:45
  • As I know the devices that require some software have that software written in a way that prevents it's client-server usage (extensive GUI use), and probably scheduler job with a batch file will work fine. Also they're very different in that software because there is no standard like USB Mass Storage that is supported by any OSes. Another alternative that is much more friendly to automated jobs but more expensive is two USB-Ethernet adapters and a statically configured IP network.
    – whitequark
    Jan 22 '10 at 14:51
  • +1 good answer explaining master-slave topology of USB and offering a practical solution in the cable you suggest. Jan 22 '10 at 16:36
  • Do anyone know other products with same functionality? In Germany I can not find this one anywhere.
    – Witek
    Jan 25 '10 at 13:05
  • 1
    You can easily find tens of these by googling usb pc to pc
    – whitequark
    Jan 25 '10 at 13:19

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