Serial to Ethernet software consists of the server and client parts. The server component will let you share local real and virtual COM ports with multiple remote clients while the client-side component will allow you to initialize a connection to the TCP/IP server. In order to create a client connection, you simply specify the hostname of the remote server and a TCP port to connect to.
The key benefits you get with this program:
- The ability to create an unlimited number of virtual serial ports.
- The possibility to exchange serial data over the UDP protocol. What’s nice is that in this case, you don’t need to have Serial to Ethernet Connector installed on the remote PC.
- The possibility to select RAW data transmission algorithm or Telnet (RFC 2217) protocol for data transfer.
- The application works as a Windows service, so after you reboot your system all connections and settings will be re-configured automatically.
- Serial to Ethernet Connector supports different Windows versions (x32 and x64), including Windows XP/2003/2008/Vista/7/8/10, Windows Server 2012. In addition, you get the ability to use a command-line software version for Linux OS.
FlexiHub is another popular software application for serial port remote access. This powerful utility also works as a Windows service and allows you to share COM ports across any network and any distance.
The software is powered by an advanced port redirection technology which makes it possible to virtualize any COM port on the network and forward it to a user’s local computer. The app has a streamlined and intuitive GUI and can be run as by tech-savvy users as by computer newbies.
The clear advantages of FlexiHub as an RS232 extender software:
- It lets you share both COM and USB interfaces together with devices plugged into them. Remote users will be able to access the devices inserted into your local computer like the peripherals were connected to their machines.
- You can choose an individual subscription plan depending on the number of connections you need.
- FlexiHub provides a convenient traffic compression option which helps increase the speed of your network communications.
- All data transported over the network is protected with advanced encryption.
- While sharing and accessing USB and COM peripherals over the network, you can interact with remote users via FlexiChat.
TCP/Com is a simple yet functional utility that will help you cope with a wide variety of serial to network conversion tasks. This program comes in handy for exchanging RS232 data with any serial app over a TCP/IP connection. In fact, the software lets you use your local computer as a serial to Ethernet adapter, which means you’ll be able to initialize connections to remote COM port devices and access them across the Internet as though they were inserted right into your local machine.
4. Network Serial Port Kit
Network Serial Port Kit will allow you to share real and virtual serial ports over Ethernet or the Internet in such a way that they will become available for connection from other PCs over the network. To virtualize a real COM port using Network Serial Port Kit, you need to install the software on both machines: the one with the hardware interface and the one that will connect to this port remotely.
Now, when you share the hardware port on the machine where it’s physically present, the software creates a virtual copy of this port on the remote computer. As soon as your RS232 app opens the virtual port, the connection between the real and virtual serial ports is created and all data received by the virtual interface gets sent to the physical serial port and backwards.
SERIAL-TCP/IP program will be a good choice for those who are building their own TCP/COM control apps. The software makes it possible to establish serial communications via the TCP/IP channel. So, you’ll be able to analyze your network connections, test and debug COM-based devices and software. SERIAL-TCP/IP solution has the advanced "Ping", "COM Port State LEDs", and "Data Logging" features and is compatible with Windows 8, 7, Vista, and XP (x32 and x64) versions.
6. Advanced Virtual COM port
Looking for a decent COM port converter software you would probably want it to meet a list of your requirements. If you need a solution capable of providing your system with a big number of virtual serial ports that will work exactly like real ones, the following app will be great for you. Advanced Virtual COM port is a simple utility with powerful functionality. Once you create a virtual RS232 port with this program, the interface will exist in your system until you delete it. What’s good about the app is that it lets you create and delete virtual ports with no need to reboot your PC.
Serial over Ethernet technology - the spheres of application
There are many cases where serial over Ethernet technology can be really efficient. Here are just some of the most common scenarios with serial to Ethernet software:
1) COM port sharing
One of the most useful things you can do with RS232 extender software is share serial ports with devices attached.
If you need to share a serial peripheral among multiple users but there’s only one computer with a COM port on your local network - no worries. With a dedicated app like Serial to Ethernet Connector or FlexiHub, you’ll have no problem making this port accessible over LAN. All that is required to do is install a serial to Ethernet app on that PC and create several virtual copies of the hardware COM interface. Now, remote users will be able to connect to the device via virtual serial ports and access it as though it were plugged into their computers physically.
2) Accessing serial ports in virtual machines
Working in a virtual environment, you may face the challenge of not being able to access peripherals connected to your physical machine. Redirecting serial devices to VMware, Hyper-V or any other guest OS can become a complicated task but only for those who don’t know about such a useful tool as a serial to LAN software. A dedicated application can solve this problem once and for all. Printers, scanners, mice, plotters and many other peripherals can be passed through to any virtual machine with nothing more than a few clicks.
3) Sending serial data over UDP
As is known, the UDP protocol is a good solution if your serial application is time-sensitive or requires increased network bandwidth when working with COM-based equipment. UDP (or User Datagram Protocol) offers no connectivity delay, which means your serial data will be delivered fast and efficiently. In order to establish a UDP connection between several serial programs or devices, you may use the special option offered by Serial to Ethernet software.
4) Remote access to POS equipment
It’s true that most modern point of sale systems utilize advanced USB equipment, but, at the same time, a wide range of specialized POS devices still communicate with computers via a serial port. These include various cash registers, payment terminals, barcode scanners, etc.
The sophisticated POS devices are usually controlled from a software application installed on the central computer. A POS program helps track data streams, collect information from each device, and guarantees smooth communication between all parts of a POS system. What makes this communication possible is a special port redirection technology offered by Serial to Ethernet software. This technology allows virtualizing POS devices and shares them over the network.
5) Redirecting medical equipment over LAN
It’s not uncommon in today’s healthcare centers that bulky medical equipment sends data to remote non-portable monitors and user interfaces via long wires. Running cables is not the most effective method to connect specialized devices to the server computer though. A much more efficient option is to provide wireless access to COM-based medical equipment like blood analyzers, or any devices communicating over serial interfaces.
This allows gathering important data and processing it from anywhere including the nurses’ stations, laboratories, pharmacies, patients’ homes, and doctors’ offices. Serial to Ethernet Connector lets transmit patient’s data right to the doctor’s computer securely over the Internet.
6) Improving industrial automation processes
When it comes to automation of industrial processes, probably the simplest way to increase manufacturing productivity is to connect all automation devices to a corporate network or the Internet so that they can be controlled and operated remotely. With a serial to Ethernet technology, critical data from RS232, RS422, and RS485 devices (e.g. programmable logic controllers, CNC machines, robots, temperature monitoring systems, process control equipment, etc.) can be redirected to a single data server over the network. This helps to reduce operating costs and improve employees safety.
7) Configuring IT equipment across the network
Serial over Ethernet software can also be really useful for wireless access to IT-equipment. Given that some devices in IT-infrastructure have serial ports, you gain the opportunity to make required configuration changes or upload new firmware without the help of console cables. All you need is a computer with a special COM port redirection app installed. The app can virtualize real physical COM ports of remote switches, hubs, and routers and make them accessible over the network. This relieves technical staff from the needed to visit remote equipment cabinets.
Connecting to remote RS232 ports with specialized COM over Ethernet hardware
Now let’s take a look at the best hardware serial to Ethernet converters also known as serial device servers or RS232 to LAN adapters.
Hardware serial over Ethernet adapters serve for connecting RS-232/422/485-based devices (e.g. acquisition systems, recorders, controllers, etc.) to COM ports of computers in order to provide serial data transmission over relatively short distances.
The conversion of data packets occurs at the software level. The software component (which comes together with the hardware device) is responsible for recognizing the types of protocols used in the system and choosing the algorithm for their coordination.
1) Serial to Ethernet Server by NetBurner
4-Port hardware solution by NetBurner is a serial port converter assisting in establishing communications between multiple COM port devices over Ethernet. When you purchase this solution, you get a compact device and a software driver which needs to be installed on your local computer. The app is aimed at creating virtual serial ports through which you will connect to remote serial devices.
Here’s how the solution works:
- you plug a serial peripheral into one of the COM ports of your NetBurner server;
- connect the hardware to Ethernet network;
- Connect the peripheral to your local PC using the software driver;
- And see the device in the Device Manager of your computer.
2) RS232 to Ethernet converter by Perle
Perle’s RS232 to Ethernet converter is no less efficient hardware adapter working perfectly well over an IP network. This device offers a super easy way to access your RS232 peripherals remotely. The advantage of this solution is that it provides customizable baud rates and is able to match the communication specifications of your remote devices.
3) Serial-to-Ethernet Adapter by SeriaLynx
As an option, you may try serial-to-Ethernet adapter designed by SeriaLynx. This hardware converter is equipped with two COM interfaces and allows simultaneous sharing of two serial devices over your local network. The pleasant bonus you get with this device server is the advanced functionality of redirecting serial data over wired and wireless Ethernet.
4) UDS1100 external device server
Also, it will be a good idea to share your COM port equipment with the help of UDS1100 by Lantronix. This device server works over both LAN and the Internet and supports peripherals with RS232, RS422 or RS485 interfaces. Fast and secure data transfer is possible thanks to the efficient serial tunneling option offered by the solution. In addition, you can configure the connection settings right from your web browser, as the UDS1100 solution comes with a built-in web server.
Why is Serial to Ethernet Connector software the top choice for sharing serial devices?
Now that you are familiar with the best software and hardware serial over Ethernet converters presented on the market today, we will highlight the main advantages of modern RS232 to LAN software over the hardware solutions.
Serial to Ethernet Connector allows:
- Providing remote access to physical COM ports across the TCP/IP network;
- Transmission of serial data via the UDP protocol;
- Selecting TCP/IP Telnet protocol for data transfer (the possibility to use RFC 2217 extensions for serial port control);
- Simultaneous sharing of multiple COM interfaces over Ethernet;
- Creating an unlimited number of virtual RS232, RS422, and RS485 ports and connections (on condition that you are not limited by your system resources);
- Managing signal lines in connections to remote COM ports;
- Sending the command to keep a connection alive in order to ensure the connection integrity;
- Sending data on a particular event (on receiving special char, on certain timeouts or when a block of data reaches a particular size);
- Creating virtual serial ports with any desired names;
- High data transfer rate (up to 256 Kbits) when communicating via a virtual COM port;
- Full emulation of parameters and behavior of real serial interfaces;
- Automatic connection recovery within a certain timeout in case of a connection break;
- Transmitting serial data securely with the traffic encryption option;
- Creating your own libraries for authorization and encryption;
- Connecting from a TCP client to different servers with different encryption and/or authorization parameters;
- Working with HyperThreaded and multi-processor systems;
- Sharing physical COM ports for access from a virtual environment;
- Changing virtual serial port names in the Device Manager;
- Getting traffic statistics for a serial port, each of the TCP connections, and UDP packets.
- Strict baud rate emulation for virtual COM ports;
Frequently asked questions about Serial to Ethernet software
– How to share a serial port over Ethernet?
- First, download RS232 to Ethernet software and install it on the computer (server) with a physical COM port you want to share
- Launch the app on the server PC and select New connection -> Server connection. In the window that will open, name your connection, specify the serial port to be shared and a TCP port to listen on. Click “Create connection”.
- Then, install the app on the client machine that will connect to the shared COM port over Ethernet. Select New connection -> Client connection and specify the server’s IP address and the TCP port you selected in the previous step.
Also, here you should create a virtual COM port by specifying a port name and checking the “Create as virtual port” option.
- Click “Create client connection”.
Once you established a client connection, all data from the real COM port of your server computer will be forwarded to the specified virtual serial port on your client machine and vice versa.
– Is it safe to send serial data over Ethernet?
The protection level of your network connections will depend on the solution you choose. Serial to Ethernet Connector by Eltima is one of the most reliable programs when it comes to the security of data transfer. This application deploys advanced traffic encryption that protects your data from unauthorized access or interception. That means all the connections you establish with this software are totally secure.
– How many serial ports can be shared simultaneously over Ethernet?
With Serial to Ethernet Connector, you can share an unlimited number of real and virtual COM ports at a time.
– What is serial tunneling?
In network terminology, serial tunneling means creating a connection between COM ports of two serial device servers over Ethernet. The communicated serial data is packetized in both directions into TCP/IP packets and redirected across Ethernet.
– How fast is a serial port?
In RS-232 port connections, the data transfer rate is measured by bits per second (bps). The standard data exchange rates for asynchronous serial communication include:
50, 75, 150, 300, 600, 1200, 2400, 4800, 9600, 19200, 38400, 57600 and 115 200 bps. Note that these values refer to the effective transmission rate, i.e., the rate is determined without taking into account the service bits - start, stop, and parity.
For a long time, the serial port speed above 115,200 bps hasn’t been supported by any operating systems or hardware. But the advanced manufacturing technology of modern motherboards chipsets makes it possible to increase the data exchange rate to more than 1 Mbit/s.
Note that the data transfer rate depends largely on the length of the connecting cable and how it is run relative to the power supply wires.
– What is a maximum length of a serial RS-232 cable?
According to the RS-232 standard, the maximum cable length is 50 feet (or 15.24 m).