How to Use a USB Web Cam With Ethernet

You can improve your webcam's performance over Ethernet by decreasing its image quality.
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Connecting a USB webcam over Ethernet significantly increases your camera's usable range, potentially enabling you to view images even when your camera and computer are in separate rooms. In order to connect webcams or other USB devices over Ethernet, you will need a USB extender. USB extenders work in pairs, with one -- the remote unit -- converting USB signals to Ethernet signals at the camera's end and the other -- the local unit -- converting those Ethernet signals back into USB signals once they reach your computer.

Install the drivers for the extender onto your computer. Most extender kits come with a driver disc included. Alternatively, you could check the extender manufacturer's website for driver downloads.

Connect the extender's local unit to your computer using a USB cable and then connect the unit to power. Turn the unit on.

Connect the extender's local unit to the remote unit using an Ethernet cable, and then connect the remote unit's power source. Turn the remote unit on.

Connect the camera and remote unit together using a USB cable. The extender will automatically recognize that there is a USB device connected, and will feed its signal through to your computer. You computer will see the webcam as if it were locally connected over USB.

  • Using USB extenders can hamper webcam clarity and frame rate, as extender units have to process USB signals into Ethernet signals before that data can be transmitted.

Andy Walton has been a technology writer since 2009, specializing in networking and mobile communications. He was previously an IT technician and product manager. Walton is based in Leicester, England, and holds a bachelor's degree in information systems from the University of Leeds.