How to share Serial port over LAN

avatar logo 29 March at 14:41

In this article, we’ll tell you about the best software and hardware solutions to help you share your valuable serial devices over LAN easily and effortlessly.

  • About a COM port
  • Wired serial connection: pros and cons
  • How to share serial to LAN: software method
  • Hardware solutions to access RS232 over LAN
  • About a serial port

    A serial port is one of traditional I/O interfaces used by a computer to exchange data with another PC or a serial-based device one bit at a time. Back in the old days, serial ports served for connecting a computer with printers and external modems and nowadays the interface helps to establish a communication between scientific instruments, industrial applications, shop till systems, etc.

    If compared with a parallel female interface, a serial port has a male connector. In the system, serial ports are represented as COM1, COM2, COM3, and so on. Each COM interface has its unique position in the technical scheme of a PC and represents an input/output (I/O) address as well as an interrupt request (IRQ) level. That means a printer or a keyboard can transport data to a computer by using the I/O address.

    Serial interfaces are able to work in a full-duplex mode, that is transport data in both ways (incoming and outgoing) at a time.

    The most common standard for a serial port is RS-232. The devices that communicate via this standard are usually referred to as the DCE (data communications equipment) and DTE (data terminal equipment). The DCE talks to the DTE via serial connectors of different types. The most widespread ones are DE-9 (9-pin) or DB-25 (25-pin) ports.

    Wired serial connection: pros and cons

    A vast variety of modern day equipment is designed to connect to a PC with the help of a standard RS232 cable. This way of communication is typical for today’s POS hardware (barcode scanners, receipt printers, payment terminals), automated industrial lines, specialized laboratory equipment (electrochemistry meters, spectrometers, spectrophotometers) and many other universal devices and instruments.

    For many years RS232 has remained a standard protocol for the data transmission. Being a cost-efficient and reliable solution, this port is used by a great number of current hardware and software products. It serves as a basic way of communication for hundreds of serial apps. Considering the ubiquity and flexibility of the interface, the need for this efficient solution is expected to continue well into the future.

    On the other side, a typical RS232 connection is established via a regular cable that enables point-to-point communication. This method of linking devices is not always convenient given the distance limitations of the hardware cable. Besides that, connecting every new peripheral to a computer requires a separate cable to be run to a separate serial port of the machine. Therefore, your PC should fit as many COM interfaces as many devices you want to connect to. This not only leads to cable clutter hanging down from the back of your desk but also makes it difficult to attach the device to more than one PC.

    Luckily, there are some dedicated hardware and software solutions designed to help you overcome all the abovementioned inconveniences.

    The simplest way to interface the required device to your PC without using a standard serial cable is the dedicated software program - Serial to Ethernet Connector.
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    Serial to Ethernet Connector

    Connect serial ports over Ethernet
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    Serial to Ethernet Connector

    What the app does is redirects serial data over TCP/IP network. Simply put, with the software you can share a COM port over LAN and access it remotely. The solution is easy to use and requires no programming skills to establish a wireless connection between serial devices.

    Here's how you can connect to a serial port over LAN with this efficient app:

    1. Attach the device you'd like to share to a COM port of your computer.
    2. Download Serial to Ethernet Connector and install it on both the machine with the device attached (the device server) and a computer that will access the peripheral remotely.
    3. On the server machine, start the app and choose 'Server connection' on the toolbar. Configure the connection settings and click 'Create connection'.
    4. Create the 'Client' connection in the software interface on the remote PC. Make sure that the hostname of the server you are connecting to and COM port number are specified correctly.
    5. Click 'Connect' on the client computer.
    6. Serial port device to network
    That's it! Now you can enjoy full access the functionality of a remote serial device as though it were connected directly to your PC. No additional hardware or cables are required. Completely software serial to LAN solution lets share an unlimited number of COM ports between multiple computers at a time. In addition, you can create cross-platform connections between Windows and Linux platforms.

    Hardware method to access serial port over LAN

    Alternatively to serial over LAN software, you can use specialized hardware solutions to redirect serial-based devices to the local network.

    A hardware serial server is a small electronic device that fits both an RS232 serial port and an Ethernet connector. The device is aimed at creating a network connection and transferring serial data it receives via a COM port to LAN. To share RS232 to LAN, the solution should be linked to the network with a standard serial cable.

    The most common types of hardware serial servers are terminal servers, console servers, and device servers.

    Serial to Ethernet Connector

    Terminal Servers will help you easily share RS232, RS422, or RS485 devices over Ethernet. Such a solution comes in handy when a user doesn't look for advanced security functionality. In many cases, the devices of this type are used to establish a communication with network server applications, where there's not the need for high-level traffic protection.

    Console servers allow connecting to network devices, including Unix, Linux, and Windows Servers, via a console interface. With the help of a console server, the personnel of network operations centers (NOC) can securely manage the data and IT assets in remote data centers. Thanks to advanced security functionality offered by this device servers, the specialists can be sure that the traffic transported over LAN is encrypted and reliably protected.

    Any Terminal or Console server that fits from 1 to 4 COM interfaces can be generally referred to as a 'Device Server'. A Device server can either support the functionality of both Terminal and Console server or offer the feature set of one of them.

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