“KVM” stands for “keyboard, video, and mouse”. KVM switches from the likes of Crystal Image Technologies allow you to control two or more computers with only one set of the three devices mentioned above. Whether you’re an average user looking for a new way to utilize your computer, or a businessman looking for a new way to improve business operations, using such devices could be advantageous to your work in many ways.

How KVM Switches Work

KVM switches may be mechanical (“passive”) or electronic (“active”). To operate mechanical KVM switches, the operator turns a rotary knob to shift between computers. This device has a simple mechanism, but doesn’t allow the operator to “see” the computers that have not been selected with the switch. On the other hand, electronic KVM switches, which allow peripheral emulation, address the limitations of mechanical switches.

Benefits of KVM Switches

For the average user, a good KVM switch saves space, time, and money. For example, if you operate more than one computer at a time, you don’t need a keyboard, monitor, or mouse for each one. Instead, each computer is connected to the switch that allows them to be accessed by the single set of peripheral devices. Business users can enjoy the same benefits on an even larger scale.

On Remote KVM Devices

For remote-controlled KVM switches, you can choose between local remote connections or over IP. Local remote KVM switches let you control computers up to a thousand feet away from the peripheral controls, i.e. the mouse, monitor, or keyboard. This type usually supports the widely available category 5 cabling. KVM over IP switches, on the other hand, make it possible for you to control computers even farther than a thousand feet. At the core of these devices is a micro-controller that converts keyboard, monitor, or mouse signals to a remote location through an Ethernet link.

How to Choose KVM Switches

It would be easier to wade through the hundreds of permutations for KVM switch features if you know your needs. Consider the number of computers you want to control. Choose a KVM switch that allows you to effortlessly change systems if you’re in a multi-platform environment. Decide whether it’s okay for the switch to be physically within your reach, or if you need it to be remote-controlled, like a KVM over IP switch.