Why Isn’t My KVM Switch Working? Let’s Troubleshoot!

kvm switch troubleshooting

Why Isn’t My KVM Switch Working? Let’s Troubleshoot!

Most companies now apply a hybrid working policy. A KVM switch enables WFHers to bring the work laptop home and utilize the home setup right away. No matter how we use it, it does support a number of servers to connect to the same set of consoles, saving us desk space and a good number of hardware costs.

Before giving away the money, you may wonder if this KVM switch would work as you like and what troubles you may encounter. I have gathered some complaints, feedback, and also workarounds from users and experts.

These may help you get the whole picture of it and make a wiser decision. 

KVM Switch Key Concerns

First of all, the journey of choosing a KVM switch starts with checking out some key specs. That’s easy to understand. You just can’t complain if you wanna play 8K games on Xbox and buy yourself a KVM switch that supports only up to HDMI 2.0 (4K capability).

Here are some key considerations and ignoring any of them may directly ruin your user experience. Thinking these through and doing it right so as to stay away from the troubles in the first place.

how to choose a kvm switch

Connector types

What types of connectors are built into the switcher and your PCs, laptops, or gaming consoles that you are connecting it to? This would decide whether the installation can be successfully completed. 

Well, you can take advantage of some adapters, of course. However, there might be some troubles behind it. You’ll see this in the latter part of this article.

Video resolutions

What devices are you trying to connect to the KVM switcher? 

  • Most KVM switches on the market are 4K switches that support up to 4K@60hz; 
  • Some advanced kits with a lot of different connectors and rich added features may apply 1080p to control the cost; 
  • And due to the rise of 8K content, there are some 8K KVM switches coming into the market.
  • You may be expecting the product to deal with some less usual standards, such as 2560 x 1440 at 100hz. Don’t forget to check the specs or talk to the support.

Which exactly do you need? That depends on what kind of devices you are using and what types of content you are consuming. Just remember to choose one that does match your standards and avoid downgrading your whole setup by adding new, stranger equipment.

Number of devices

To make things more complicated…You shall make sure how many devices you are connecting via the KVM switch. The problem can be split into two:

1) How many PCs, laptops, or gaming consoles are you connecting to?

2) How many monitors you are using for the setup? 

Well, I listed it as the third point. You shall think about this at the beginning so that to have answers for the previous two questions.

If you wanna connect up to 4 PCs to one monitor, the switch shall have at least 4 Video-Out and 4 USB connectors for both display and control purposes. However, this may pose a challenge on your TV about the number of Video-In ports it has. That’s what you shall think about beforehand.

And if you wanna connect your devices to 2 displays for a dual monitor setup, go get yourself a dual monitor KVM switch!

Video: How to set up a dual monitor KVM switch

USB connections

Besides the video concerns, another thing requires attention, too – the USB support. It will decide how you are gonna control your devices and what peripherals your setup can handle.

Most KVM switches have two USB ports designated for the use of your keyboard and mouse. In addition to that, there would be a USB hub of 2.0 or 3.0 standard for you to connect your peripherals such as a webcam, microphone, flash drive, etc.

The question is: how many USB ports do you need and can a USB 2.0 hub be enough or do you need to go straight to a USB 3.0?

You may be interested: USB 2.0 vs USB 3.0, which do you need?

Switch methods

There are different ways to change among devices using a KVM switch: pressing a button on the switch, using IR control, or a Hotkey. These are the most usual switch methods. 

You shall have imagined how the setup would look like, where each member would be placed. Make sure the switch method brings convenience rather than the opposite.

kvm switch switching methods
Figure 1 KVM switch switching methods

*Note: A KVM switch can support different methods at the same time. Check the product details.

You may be interested: Best KVM Switches in 2023

Troubles You May Encounter Using a KVM Switch

Even though you have chosen a nice KVM switch, you may still go through some hiccups before everything works. Here is a checklist to help you troubleshoot the setup.

Above all, reconnecting and rebooting your setup could always be your first try.

Using a Bluetooth device

Some KVM switches do have compatibility issues with wireless dongles. People may recommend you not use wireless devices with a KVM switch. They have a reason, while we do have a way out.

The 2.4G wireless signal could be interfered by the 5G signal of USB 3.0 devices. If you have the wireless dongle of a mouse plugged into the same hub next to a 3.0 device, for example, an SSD, the mouse could be unstable and when it gets a bit away from the switch, it may disconnect.

As a manufacturer, we do find a way out – to put two USB ports on one side and the hub on the other. The two isolated ports are designated for the keyboard and mouse as they are mostly those who use a 2.4G wireless connection.

kvm switch front and back panels
Figure 2: Separating USB 1.1 and USB 3.0 connecting ports

If the KVM switch you are using does not have this standalone hub, you may try using an added USB hub to extend one. The key is to distance your wireless dongles and your USB 3.0 devices as possible.

Disobedient keyboard

USB 1.1 is often used in a KVM switch in order to enable the feature of Hotkey switching. However, USB 1.1 may not have the same level of compatibility as USB 2.0 or 3.0. Therefore, some gaming keyboards could have issues when connected to a USB 1.1.

There do have some rare cases where the keyboard can’t go well with USB 1.1 port. If it happens to you, just connect your keyboard to the USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 port. You will be fine and you shall find another way to switch.

Using an extended USB hub

A USB hub could easily solve the problem of not having enough ports to use. Whatever reason you have, an extended USB hub sometimes may not work as you expect, especially when you use devices that require high power. 

If you have encountered an error saying “Unplug the accessory using too much power to re-enable USB devices”, that’s fairly the same problem – not enough power is offered for your USB devices. We recommend you use a self-powered USB hub.

Using an adapter in a wrong way

There are three parts in the setup using a KVM switch – your display, your computing devices, and the KVM switch. Due to the different connector types, you may use adapters to connect. Here are some notes:

1. HDMI splitter

An HDMI one-to-many adapter or an HDMI splitter only copies the signal for mirroring. If you are connecting to a dual monitor KVM switch and your PC has only one HDMI port, this adapter enables you to have an extra HDMI port for connection, however, you will only get a mirrored screen, instead of an extended screen. 

Solution: Try another port for the second screen, or use DisplayPort (MST-enabled) which does support splitting the source and routing them independently to each display. 

2. Using an adapter

Most adapters are not bi-directional. You shall keep in mind how your signal flows: from your computer to the KVM switch and finally to the display. Put your adapter in the right place if you are using one.

For example, you could easily find a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter but it’s difficult to find an HDMI-to-DisplayPort adapter. If using adapters is a must for your setup, make sure you use them in the right direction.

3. Do not use VGA

VGA standard supports only 1080p and if your devices are better than this, VGA will drag down the quality. There is another thing worth mentioning. If you are using a VGA-to-HDMI adapter to connect your PC to an HDMI KVM switch, VGA will not transfer audio information. Hence, if there is a 3.5 mm audio out port on the switch, there will not be a sound coming out from it.

Wake up a sleeping device

When you switch to a computer that has been idle for a long time or with a lid closed, you may not be able to wake it up with the keyboard or mouse. Why is that? There is an easy way out – just change your settings and never put your computer to sleep.

sleep settings
Figure 3: Change laptop power settings

Some devices do not offer such an option and even yes, this poses a challenge to your battery. If you want your device to rest when they need to rest and still be able to wake it up with a click or a tab, here is a solution.

Flickering screen

Every KVM switch has its own “CPU”. The capacity highly depends on what chip it uses. If you have everything connected and only see a flickering screen, there might be a lack of transmission capacity (the KVM switch) or the connector goes wrong (your device).

Try to connect your source to the display directly, if it works the port shall be good. You can also try different ports for the connection and reboot your machines. If it finally proves to be a lack of capacity, use shorter cables (for example 3 feet) to bring down the transmission workload.

Read more: 5 Tips to Fix Your Screen Tearing Issues

Reshuffled desktop

This can be really annoying. Switching to the laptop you are working on half an hour ago, you surprisingly find all the icons are in a messy order and it looks like someone has broken into your desktop and messed everything up. 

The reason why this happens is that the KVM switch will cut off the current connection (video and USB information) when you switch to a new device. When you switch back, the computer has to reconnect with the KVM switch, and the layout could change then. This is also why some KVM switches can’t wake up a sleeping laptop – it loses the connection to it.

The only way out is to purchase a KVM switch which is built with an advanced chip solution so that it can keep connected to all your devices in the setup even though you are only working on one of them.

Here are two KVM switches that meet this requirement.

8K KVM Switch 2 In 1 Out

Immersive experience like never before. Control 2x PCs with one set of monitor, keyboard, and mouse. HDMI 2.1 & HDCP 2.3 compliant. Supports up to 8K@60hz.

8k kvm switch

4K@60hz Dual Monitor KVM Switch

4KSW21-DM dual monitor HDMI KVM switch is specially designed for users who have more than one PC and one monitor. It is plug-and-play, perfect for home office, gaming, and learning. The KVM switch allows you to control two PCs with only one set of keyboard, mouse, and two monitors at the same time.

dual monitor kvm switch

 

Conclusions

KVM switch is a great invention to help users boost efficiency and save space if they are using more than one computing device in one place. Picking the right one could definitely enhance your user experience. This article would help you better understand what you need and make a smart decision. Welcome to talk to our support team (info@avaccess.com) if you still have doubts or any problems picking the right KVM switch.