How to Choose the Right KVM Switch for Your Small Server Room

By Nigel Dickens  |  Posted 2009-05-14 Print this article Print

If you have a small server room with anywhere from a handful up to 20 servers, chances are you need a KVM switch to handle these jobs. The challenge is choosing the right KVM switch. There's a huge range of KVM switch options, from simple low-cost, personal KVM switches to sophisticated devices with integrated KVM-over-IP and matrix switching capabilities. Knowledge Center Nigel Dickens explains how to choose the right KVM switch for your small server room.

Your office has grown. It's come to the point where you want to monitor what's happening on the network and install software without effort. Also, there are those inevitable emergencies for which, so far, you don't have a great plan: such as every time there's a virus or the e-mail system has crashed, you don't have speedy backup in place. What you need is a KVM switch.

In the simplest case, a KVM switch enables you to place a keyboard, monitor and mouse in your server room and switch this between servers when you want to configure them, install new software or just monitor what's going on. Unlike software or remote access technologies, KVM switches work across all hardware and software platforms, with both new and old computers.

But for emergencies, you need more than the minimum. You need speed and reliability, which puts you in the professional league of switches. For businesses, a KVM switch has to work like a pro, no matter what.

A good KVM switch will work faultlessly every time, but this isn't the case with every switch. If you ask around, chances are you'll find someone who has horror stories to tell. Typical experiences include switches that hang randomly or mice that go crazy, requiring a reboot of the KVM switch.

Other reports include endlessly repeating key strokes, computers that fail to boot in the required video resolution, lazy mice and keys that get stuck down for no apparent reason. Coping with such issues while you're trying to get your company's e-mail back online can be frustrating, to say the least.

So, how do you decide which KVM switch to choose? Choosing and implementing a worthwhile KVM switch means viewing it as key to the infrastructure, like a hub, rather than as a commodity item.

Nigel Dickens has been Adder's Technical Director since 1991. He has over 20 years experience in the electronics industry. Nigel has a strong background in electronic engineering and a keen interest in mechanical engineering and design. He is a Chartered Engineer and a graduate in Electronics from Cambridge University. He can be reached at

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