You can configure multiple virtual machines to use a virtual shared smart card reader for smart card authentication. The smart card reader must be connected to a client computer on which the vSphere Client runs. All smart card readers are treated as USB devices.

A license is required for the shared smart card feature. See the vCenter Server and Host Management documentation.

When you log out of Windows XP guest operating systems, to log back in, you must remove the smart card from the smart card reader and re-add it. You can also disconnect the shared smart card reader and reconnect it.

If the vSphere Client disconnects from the vCenter Server or host, or if the client computer is restarted or shut down, the smart card connection breaks. For this reason, it is best to have a dedicated client computer for smart card use.

To connect a USB smart card reader that is not shared, see USB Configuration from a Client Computer to a Virtual Machine in the vSphere Client.


  • Verify that the smart card reader is connected to the client computer.
  • Verify that the virtual machine is powered on.
  • Verify that a USB controller is present.


  1. Select the virtual machine in the vSphere Client inventory.
  2. Click the USB icon on the virtual machine toolbar.
  3. Select the shared smart card reader from the Connect to USB Devices drop-down menu.
    The smart card device appears in the menu as a USB device and as a virtual shared device.
  4. Select Shared the model name of your smart card reader followed by a number.
    The device status appears as Connecting, then the device connects.


You can now use smart card authentication to log in to virtual machines in the vSphere Client inventory.