How to share Serial port over LAN

avatar logo 29 March at 14:41
This article is dedicated to serial ports and sharing of serial to LAN. We'll talk about serial ports in general, what equipment they have been used with over the years, and of course how serial over LAN works.

  • COM port definition
  • COM port application
  • Share COM port over LAN
  • Hardware solutions
  • COM port definition

    Though, a COM port is not the only communication interface that supports serial data transmission, the term "serial port" is generally considered to refer to interfaces based on a common communication protocol RS-232. RS-232 stands for Recommended Standard 232, a communication protocol that allows an exchange of serial data between a computer and connected instruments.

    In general there are two forms of data transmission – serial and parallel. Parallel was invented pretty recently and although way faster than serial, it is not always as practical as the latter, especially with long distances in mind. Serial communication is usually used between two computers or between a computer and an external hardware.

    A serial (COM) port is a physical interface for serial communication and has been an essential part of all computers for more than 30 years. Even though USB interface is so vastly popular these days, serial ports are still a big part of industrial automation systems, scientific instruments, point of sale systems, etc.

    Serial to Ethernet Connector

    As serial ports support a full-duplex transmission (can work both ways) - send to or receive data from devices - devices connected to them can send and receive data simultaneously.

    A special controller chip - the Universal Asynchronous Receiver/ Transmitter (UART) - is used to ensure proper functioning of the ports. It receives the parallel output of computer's system bus and then transforms it into the serial form. UART chips most often feature a special built-in buffer for caching data from the system, while it is being processed to be sent to COM port. Data in the buffer can be from 16 to 64 kilobytes. Most of serial ports transfer data at 115 Kbps, while higher speed serial ports can reach the speed up to 460 Kbps.

    COM ports application

    Serial ports have been used for communication of various devices with computers and servers over the decades.

    Here are some devices that have utilized serial port interface for communication:

  • Computer mouse. When a computer did not have a PS/2 or USB port for connection then a serial port was used to connect a mouse;
  • Printer. Older models of printers and plotters. However, serial port is widely spread among industrial printers and plotters even nowadays;
  • Modem. Sometimes it turns out to be easier to connect modem to serial port even if a computer is equipped with a USB one;
  • Telecommunication equipment. There is nothing more convenient for debugging, studying the boot up messages, kernel upgrading, and Ethernet connection troubleshooting;
  • Temperature measuring instruments that connect via RS-232 ports;
  • Credit card readers;
  • And much more.
  • What is Serial over LAN used for?
    Utility to share COM port over LAN

    Sec logo

    Serial to Ethernet Connector

    Requirements: Requirements for Windows (32-bit and 64-bit): XP/2003/2008/ Vista/7/8/10, Windows Server 2012, 4.66MB free space Version 7.1.876 ()
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    In a nutshell, Serial over LAN technology allows accessing serial port devices over LAN, which enables the control of the shared devices over the distance. Therefore, Serial over LAN solution helps to remotely access and manage serial port hardware in the real time from any part of the world.
    Serial to Ethernet Connector

    To share a serial to LAN with the least effort, you will need a Serial to Ethernet Connector software. The app is very intuitive to use and requires almost no special knowledge:

    1. Download Serial to Ethernet Connector and install it to a server computer (a computer with the serial ports to share) and also on a computer that will connect to the ports.
    2. On a computer where you would like to share serial ports, select the Server connection in Serial to Ethernet Connector's main interface. After customizing the settings, click “Create connection” in the main window.
    3. On another computer that will be connecting to the shared port, create the “Client” connection. Make sure that the remote hostname and port number are the ones you've set up in the previous step.
    4. Serial port device to network
    4. Click 'Connect' on the remote computer and access the shared port with device as if it was connected directly to the computer you are working with.

    Here you go - access serial over LAN in the software interface and manage it like it's plugged directly to your local machine, and you do not need to adjust any additional hardware settings. Serial to LAN application supports Windows and Linux OS.

    Hardware solutions

    Hardware solutions for sharing a serial port over LAN are called Terminal Servers, Device Servers and Console Servers. Read further to see what those are.

    Terminal Servers

    Terminal Servers

    These allow connecting devices with RS232, RS422 or RS485 to Ethernet networks.

    Terminal servers can be very simple devices not offering any security, such as data encryption and user authentication.

    Device Servers

    Serial to Ethernet Connector

    Ethernet LAN is used to interconnect sensors, instruments, machine tools, restaurant appliances, POS terminals and others. In the mid-1990s the first "device server" was created and converted serial transmission to Ethernet, letting serial-based devices communicate over a LAN instead of dedicated cabling. And even though newer devices have Ethernet ports, legacy devices still feature serial ports.

    Console Servers

    Serial to Ethernet Connector

    Most commonly, a console server provides a number of serial ports that are connected to the serial ports of other equipment. With console servers switching devices is smooth, authentication and encryption are available. Console Servers provide secure remote access to Unix, Linux, Windows Servers and any device on the network with a console port.

    The consoles of the connected devices can be accessed by connecting to the console server over a serial link such as a modem, or over a network with terminal emulator software.

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