June 18, 2006 7:49 AM   Subscribe

What would happen if I plug a non-keyboard/mouse into the USB ports on my KVM switch?

I just got a USB KVM switch, and it works really well.
But I started to wonder, since USB is so "standard", what would happen if I plugged something that was not a keyboard or mouse into one of those ports?
Would both machines then be able to "share" that other device (depending on which one was active, of course)?

Or is there some magic in USB keyboards and mice that would cause this not to work?

Not trying it myself, in case the answer is "It will cause major damage to your device" :)
posted by jozxyqk to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
With a USB KVM what often happens is that when the keyboard/mouse is switched to the other device, the KVM masquerades as a standard USB keyboard /mouse to the non-active computer. This prevents you having those annoying bell noises as the computer picks up and drops a USB device.

So you may or may not be able to share a device doing this.
posted by unSane at 8:05 AM on June 18, 2006

It should work fine -- whichever machine is active on the KVM should have access to the device, and the other machine(s) shouldn't. It is kind of a weird way to "share" something (since it's not really shared) but if it's something like a scanner, it should work fine.
posted by kindall at 8:27 AM on June 18, 2006

There's only one way to find out.
posted by nomad at 8:58 AM on June 18, 2006

Just plug the thing in. For science!
posted by IvyMike at 9:27 AM on June 18, 2006

Save the data before testing =)
posted by beerbajay at 9:35 AM on June 18, 2006

Yeah, why not just try it?
posted by delmoi at 10:53 AM on June 18, 2006

IvyMike, when you are using the word that way, it should be capitalized.


But, yeah. Back up your data and just try it. The only problem i can see is that if it's a storage device some, of the data may be buffered into the PC's memory and not fully written to the device. Switching to the other PC could cause that data to become corrupted (just like unplugging it without unmounting it). If it's a scanner or a web cam or something of the like, it should be fine.
posted by quin at 11:53 AM on June 18, 2006

You might want to look at the documentation for the device. I've seen USB KVM switches that specifically advertised the ability to share any USB device, so it's definitely possible, but I'm not sure if they all do it.
posted by mmoncur at 10:44 PM on June 18, 2006

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