That USB Key Shuffle
Got Pro Tools installed on more than one computer? Find yourself swapping iLok and Waves USB hubs between your systems? Got an Arm / Linux based NAS server?
Your USB swapping days could be over.
Because NAS systems are generally ARM processor based Linux machines, third party developers can write plugins or apps for these systems, which work across a wide range of manufacturers. These can range from DVB TV recorders and servers, to Website hosting, to automated off-site backup, to Antivirus protection.
VirtualHere Server is an app on your NAS system that allows you to plug your USB devices into your NAS, then present them to your network attached computer, as if they were connected locally. Only one of you can have any USB device at a time - you can't share them though, but "plugging and unplugging" your USB is done through an app that runs in the background on your computer - Windows, Mac or Linux.
Plugging and unplugging is as simple as double clicking on the device you want.
Works With Pro Tools & iLok, Waves & USB, Reason & Ignition Keys
As well as Waves, Pro Tools and all AAX iLok authorised plugins, I've tested and it works with Reason, Izotope RX Standalone, Synchro Arts ReVoice Pro Standalone, Conformalizer and Voice-Q.
All Very Nice, But Why?
How many USB hubs have you got through moving iLoks and USB keys between machines? How many times have you had an iLok or USB not be recognised because there's not enough power available from your laptop's USB port? More expensively, how many times have you heard of iLoks getting fried when plugging in? If your answer to any of those questions is higher than zero, then it would be worth you taking a look at VirtualHere.
Not Just NAS Systems
VirtualHere Server is also available for OS-X, Windows and Linux, so even if you don't have a NAS system, you can still take advantage of this.
Currently NAS versions are available for QNAP, Synology, Netgear and ASUSTOR Arm processor based NAS systems.
Leave Your iLok At Home
VirtualHere Server and Client also work over VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). VPNs are a way of connecting to your "home" network over the internet, in a way that appears to your computer to be locally connected.
This is REALLY exciting - I can leave my iLok and USB keys attached to my NAS, take my laptop down the road, connect to 4G Internet via my smartphone's Wifi HotSpot, and VirtualHere mounts my USB keys as if they were connected to my laptop locally.
So I can leave my valuable USB auth keys in a safe place, and never have to worry about them getting damaged again.
Obviously you need a rock solid internet connection to your NAS or VirtualHere Server host, but this is a massive game changer.
Here's to being able to run my Pro Tools anywhere!
Equipment used -
- Qnap TS412 NAS
- MacBook Pro 8.1
- VirtualHere Server & Client
- Pro Tools 12.4HD, Waves v9
VirtualHere is available from here, and on your Apps page on your NAS system.
Setting Up Port Forwarding
Technical note - you will have to play with the port forwarding settings on your router to open the VPN and VirtualHere ports to the outside world. Please contact your IT department or ISP for support doing this.
Here's how I did it -
First you need to set up port forwarding on your router
VirtualHere specifically uses port 7575
On your NAS you can use UPnP (Universal Plug'n'Play) to setup up the VPN port forwarding -
Then you just have to point the VirtualHere Client on your machine at the external IP address of the internet connection your NAS (or VirtualHere Server) is connected to. If you don't have a static IP address on that connection (usually an extra cost option), you can use a Dynamic DNS service such as DynDNS.
And there you have it!
Good luck as always and please share your experiences in the comments below.
Usual caveats apply - this is how it works for me - your experience may vary depending on your local configuration. Please refer to your IT department or ISP for support.