A USB switch enables you to control multiple computers using one keyboard and mouse – saving time and inconvenience, and keeping your desk clear.
Before investing in a switch, consider what you want to achieve.
If you only want to take control of one computer at a time, a hardware USB switch will let you connect it each of your computers, and then switch one keyboard and mouse between them.
This solution is practical if you don’t want to seamlessly switch between computers, and you don't mind having extra hardware on your desk.
If you want to save time and money setting up hardware, and want to be able to seamleslsy move your mouse between screens without pressing a button, a software alternative could be an easier and more affordable way of working between your computers. The software alternatives work similarly to hardware USBs, but without any physical box or cables.
With hundreds of USB switches on the market, it’s important to undertake some research before committing to a product. We’ve outlined some of the things you should consider below.
USB and KVM switches have a hard limit on how many computers they can connect to, based on the number of ports on the back. Check there are enough ports for your needs.
Switching mechanisms vary between pressing a button on the USB or KVM switch, clicking on your mouse wheel, using an on-screen display or pressing a hotkey on your keyboard (bear in mind that the latter can interfere with existing shortcuts).
A good hardware USB switch will allow you to use it with multiple computers (and a single mouse and keyboard) without too much inconvenience. Some USB switches tend to be less reliable than others. Quality is everything here, so invest as much as you can to ensure the switching process won't interrupt your workflow.
A hardware USB switch may be an unnecessary expense, and could clutter up your desk. If you want to work seamlessly across all your devices with a single keyboard and mouse, a software alternative such as Synergy would be a simpler and less expensive solution.