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Author Topic: KVM switch woes -- any recommendations?  (Read 5054 times)

daddydave

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KVM switch woes -- any recommendations?
« on: May 03, 2010, 05:57:36 PM »
I have a little KVM switch and I am not too satisfied with it:
http://www.buy.com/p...c/101/202531007.html

It works fine, until it doesn't. When I first got it, it started reinstalling the mouse and keyboard every time I flipped between the two machines (a laptop and a desktop, if that matters). Finally for the most part, they stayed installed. But the mouse cursor gets stuck in one spot frequently (at least daily) and I have to unplug it from the desktop machine. To get to the USB port I have to unplug the monitor cable as well. The other day I unplugged and replugged everything for several minutes and it still wasn't working. I don't know if I got a bad one, or if that's just the way it is for this. I leaning toward that's just the way it is. It seems to be basically unplugging the usb and plugging it back in, hence the constant reinstall that I experienced initially. I know this type of device was more reliable in my memory, back when all the keyboard and mouse ports were PS/2 style. If I recall correctly, the good ones held some power, sparing the motherboard from the shock of constantly unplugging the PS/2 connectors. It seems I need the same for USB, I was trying to go bargain basement, but that seems to be a fail. I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations. By the way, this may not be a typical use: usually only one computer will actually be powered up.
If bad things happen to other people, it's karma. If bad things happen to me, it's kismat!
« Last Edit: May 03, 2010, 05:59:32 PM by daddydave »

Shades

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Re: KVM switch woes -- any recommendations?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2010, 07:29:33 PM »
Try a software tool like Synergy or Synergy+ (a fork of Synergy). Both are open source. My personal experience with Synergy is very good and very reliable. Using it for years already on XP/2000/2003 systems without any problem.

There was another one, also free to use, but I forgot the name. Search this forum and you will find out.

mouser

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Re: KVM switch woes -- any recommendations?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2010, 08:06:38 PM »
this is what always makes me hesitate to try a kvm setup, i keep hearing stories about annoyances like this with them.

40hz

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Re: KVM switch woes -- any recommendations?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2010, 08:46:06 PM »
I've tried many different KVM products over the years.

The only absolutely reliable ones I've ever found are made by a company called Raritan.

They're pretty much the industry standard. Raritans can be found in many major data centers and corporate server rooms.

Not cheap by any stretch. A simple 4-port SwitchMan model runs about $100 - 150 depending on which one you need. (Some of their other models sport price tags that can easily cause dizziness and nosebleed. )

But if you want "no BS" absolutely bulletproof hardware-based KVM switching, this is the only brand AFAIC. If you're setting KVM up for a client, get a SwitchMan.

If you don't insist on a hardware-based solution, then I'd definitely go with Shades' recommendation for Synergy. I use Synergy at home to handle my rag-tag and ever changing 'harem' of PCs and NIX boxes.  Synergy is cross-platform, easy to set up, reliable in use - and free!

So what's not to like? :)

« Last Edit: May 03, 2010, 08:51:24 PM by 40hz »

mwb1100

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Re: KVM switch woes -- any recommendations?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2010, 10:17:41 PM »
I'm using an IOGEAR GCS634U KVM and I've been happy with it, but I wouldn't call myself an extensive user - there are 3 machines plugged in to it, but 2 are server-type machines that pretty much run themselves.  I only have to switch to them occasionally for a reboot or other infrequent maintenance, and even then I use remote control software RDP or VNC more often than the KVM. But there are times when the KVM is really necessary (like you need to do something early in the boot process).  If push came to shove, I could crawl around and plug in a monitor, etc. for those times when remote control won't do, but I really hate doing that (my cabling is a real rat's nest).

Synergy wouldn't work for my set up as the machines don't have their own monitors.

ewemoa

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Re: KVM switch woes -- any recommendations?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2010, 10:43:15 PM »
FWIW, what I'd been using looks like:

  http://www.misco.co....ils.asp?EdpNo=304101

There was one recurring annoyance which I don't recall very clearly, but it wasn't that frequent.  Currently using only one machine so the switch isn't in use.  Overall I did find it convenient to be able to use one set of peripherals to switch among various boxen.

daddydave

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Re: KVM switch woes -- any recommendations?
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2010, 12:11:26 PM »
Thanks to all for all the suggestions and insight. Now I have to decide.
If bad things happen to other people, it's karma. If bad things happen to me, it's kismat!

MilesAhead

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Re: KVM switch woes -- any recommendations?
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2010, 06:48:30 PM »
Thanks to all for all the suggestions and insight. Now I have to decide.

The only kvma switch I ever bought is the one I'm using now.  It's a Belkin for 2 PCs. It's been very reliable.  The thing is I stay with PS/2 keyboard and mouse and VGA connector for video.  I know, the thing's ancient.. but it's been working for me all this time. I have my speakers plugged into it too. Only real drawback other than hotkeying back and forth is I can't use my PC as a jukebox since the sound will switch when I switch machines. Eventually they'll probably stop making PCs with VGA connectors.  That's one reason I got this HP quad core.  The video card has 3 outputs, one of which is VGA. I'm still using a Gateway VX900 CRT.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  :)

I think I paid $6.95 at Best Buy for this switch.  Got my moneys worth.  The one thing though it did take me awhile to catch on that the "right hand side" was like the master side. If I install a new PC on the left hand side, I have to boot the PC on the right to initialize it first, or the startup won't recognize the keyboard.

« Last Edit: May 04, 2010, 06:50:27 PM by MilesAhead »

3of0

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Re: KVM switch woes -- any recommendations?
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2010, 12:21:33 PM »
If you're on the same network and not tied down to a hardware KVM, I might suggest using a software one.  Keyboard and Mouse connected to one machine, and just move the mouse across the side as if it was an additional monitor connected to your pc.

http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/  Synergy is Cross-Platform and extreamly flexible for setting up how you want your displays, though not many options beyond that.  It is a little confusing at first to setup, but taking a minute to read what it's asking/doing helps a lot.  There have been a few spin-offs like Synergy Plus, which work just as well.  I personally haven't noticed the differences much.  The selling point for me here is Cross-Platform as I've got a linux & windows box side by side.

http://www.inputdirector.com/  Input director is Windows Only.  While it's not Cross-Platform and not quite as flexible as far as setting up monitors (only vertical or horizontal setup), it has a ton more options that make up for them, though you can get lost in them.  The setup is much easier to understand as well.  I used this when I had two desktops next to each other.

I would suggest Input Director if you had only windows machines.  I would suggest Synergy otherwise.

daddydave

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Re: KVM switch woes -- any recommendations?
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2010, 12:32:06 PM »
Unfortunately one of the computers I want to connect with it is a work laptop so installing software is probably not an option for me. The powered Iogear one seems to be getting pretty good reviews and it is self-powered so I can see how that one might be a better hardware option than what I had.

Here are some of reviews for it:
http://www.google.co...mp;ved=0CAsQ9AIwADgA
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RobC

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Re: KVM switch woes -- any recommendations?
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2010, 02:55:59 AM »
I have a cheapie KVM($20 Aust) that uses PS2 connectores.
Here is what I have learned to do (and it now works fine) -
- Plug in a DC supply (so it is not fumbling around getting power up the connectors)
- Do not be touching the mouse or keyboard, when your PCs are booting

elvisbrown

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Re: KVM switch woes -- any recommendations?
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2010, 03:44:24 AM »
I've used KVM switches for years and have found that having both (or more) pcs working with the same keyboard and mouse BEFORE using the KVM switch seems to help (driver mismatch across pcs perhaps?).

I also have a bamboo tablet on one PC and if I kvm away from it I can not come back successfully. I am pretty sure that if the other pc had the bamboo driver I'd be fine but I haven't tested it.

The first one I had was a cheapie and the  blurb that came with it said that if dropout occurred to use a power supply (it had a power in port).

Good luck
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anodyne

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Re: KVM switch woes -- any recommendations?
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2010, 12:45:51 PM »
I have a TrendNet TK-400 4-port switch (PS/2) that I am quite happy with. The price was very reasonable. They also make USB version(s), but I have no experience of them.

mediaguycouk

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Re: KVM switch woes -- any recommendations?
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2010, 05:15:55 AM »
If your monitor has two inputs on it then multiplicity is very good.
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