How to share Serial port over LAN

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What is serial over LAN? It is a software solution that lets you communicate with a remote COM device as if was directly connected to your computer. These software tools enable you to share serial ports over LAN as well as use serial devices with computers that are not equipped with serial ports. 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
    1. Serial to Ethernet Connector
    2. TCP/Com
    3. Network Serial Port Kit
    4. SERIAL-TCP/IP
    5. Advanced Virtual COM port
  • Hardware solutions to access RS232 over LAN
    1. NetBurner
    2. Perle
    3. SeriaLynx
    4. Lantronix
  • The bottom line
  • 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.

    1. Serial to Ethernet Connector

    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.

    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.

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    Serial to Ethernet Connector

    Connect serial ports over Ethernet
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    Serial to Ethernet Connector

    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.

    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.


    2. TCP/Com


    TCP/Com program is a basic solution suitable for accessing serial devices as well as RS232 to LAN conversion implementations. Some of the connectivity tasks it can resolve include: turning a computer into a Serial Device Server; communicate over the network with any serial device or application; enact remote control of Serial ports as if they were local; mapping of TCP/IP interfaces; split data from a single physical COM port and send it to multiple serial apps. It runs on versions of the Windows OS from 98 to Windows 10 (32- and 64-bit).

    tcpcom

    3. Network Serial Port Kit


    Network Serial Port Kit is another software tool designed for COM port over LAN sharing. The serial over IP application makes a physical serial ports accessible to other network-attached computers. This lets you connect your machine to a remotely located COM device simply and easily. The program fully emulates serial port internals so that the virtual ports look and function as if they were physical ports.

    Network Serial Port Kit is supported on the Windows 32- and 64-bit operating systems and lets you share and access any number of serial devices.

    network serial kit

    4. SERIAL-TCP/IP


    Serial-TCP/IP is an application that enables serial on LAN transmission and makes your current TCP/IP control software available from remote locations. Its built-in "Ping", "Resolve IP Address / HostName", "COM Port State LEDs", and "Data Logging" options facilitate analysis of your TCP/IP network and COM devices. As with the other solutions discussed, this tool makes the testing and debugging work of serial software and hardware developers easier. A limitation of this software is that it only runs on Windows 8, 7, Vista, and XP (32 and 64 bits).

    serial tcp

    5. Advanced Virtual COM port


    Advanced Virtual COM Port is a communications application that offers COM port to LAN functionality as well as the ability to create virtual serial ports. Your apps will treat these ports as if they were physical interfaces as they are created with all parameters and functionality fully emulated. You can dynamically create, remove, and monitor up to 255 virtual ports with no need of rebooting your machine.

    Advanced Virtual COM port supports Windows 2000 - Windows 8.1 (32 and 64-bit) and Windows Server 2012 R2. It also supports Windows CE versions: CE 5.0 (x86), CE 5.0 - 6.0 (arm), Mobile 2003 SE, and Mobile 5.0 - 6.5.

    advanced virtual com port

    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.

    4-Port Serial to Ethernet Server by NetBurner


    NetBurner Serial to Ethernet Server is a compact hardware device that can easily convert serial data into Ethernet signals and vice versa. The solution comes with a serial over LAN software utility aimed at creating virtual serial ports on a Windows computer. Both hardware and software components are fairly easy to install and use. Once you attach your serial device to a remote NetBurner server, the peripheral appears in the Device Manager of your local computer as though it were connected to the machine directly.

    RS232 to Ethernet converter by Perle


    RS232 to Ethernet converter by Perle is a good choice for transmitting serial data across an IP network. If you need to remotely access your serial RS232 device, Perle’s Terminal Server will come to the rescue. This solution will match the communication specifications of your equipment and offer customizable baud rates if your device requires unique baud rates.

    SeriaLynx Serial-to-Ethernet Adapter


    SeriaLynx Serial-to-Ethernet adapter is another handy solution that allows you to seamlessly add a serial port device to the local network. The SeriaLynx unit is equipped with two COM ports, which means you’ll be able to communicate with up to 2 wired serial devices remotely after you attach them to the SeriaLynx serial ports. Plus, the hardware will help you transmit the data across wired or wireless Ethernet.

    Lantronix UDS1100 external device server


    UDS1100 is a single-port device server that allows sharing RS232, RS422 and RS485 peripherals over LAN and the Internet. Thanks to the serial tunneling capability, UDS1100 can encapsulate serial data into packets and transport it over Ethernet fast and reliably. What’s especially convenient is that users can access and configure UDS1100 from a standard web browser, as the solution offers a built-in web server.

    Conclusions

    Based on your requirements, one of these COM to LAN applications or hardware will solve your problem. Some of them are free, and some carry a cost (if we talk about hardware connectors). Keep in mind, that the benefit of using paid software is that you will get program updates and technical support. The software is definitely easier to use and no need in long cords. This can be critical in helping you use the software if you run into any potential issues. So, the decision about the app choice totally depends on your particular situation, and the requirements you have for the software performance. All these apps are a good helper in solving serial over LAN issues.