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Why Do You Need a KVM?

You could simply wrangle cables each time you want to change computers. Or, if you have the appropriate networking setup, do it in software with a program such as VNC or GoToMyPC, or whatever might be built into your OS. But the KVM approach means that you need to turn on only the computer(s) you’re currently using (wasting less power). Also, if they’re not otherwise networked, the KVM provides a security layer of isolation between systems.

There are any number of reasons to want to easily switch among machines. You may want one just for burning CDs/DVDs, or just for fax/mail serving. Or you may regularly use both your notebook and your desktop. Perhaps you have one system that you deliberately don’t connect to the Internet, or one you use exclusively for email and web browsing. Maybe one system belongs to your employer and the other is your personal machine. For example, I currently have three main machines:

  • Desktop machine I use for production (doing my work)
  • Desktop designated for testing—the intent is to be able to do easy restores without risking my ability to get my work done if Something Bad Happens
  • Notebook

Plus, of course, the usual assortment of older/junker machines, the least terrible of which I plan to designate for Trying Really Dubious Downloads (e.g. Skype, or maybe playing a Sony CD <g>).

With prices starting in the tens of dollars, you don’t have to do a lot of computer-switching to justify—or simply want—a KVM switch. Even if it’s just once a week, bringing your notebook home from the office, and wanting to use it briefly with your regular keyboard and monitor, adding a KVM could be worth the effort.

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