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Networking USB 2.0 Print Server - Share 4 USB Devices (1000Mbps)
The new Gigabit LAN USB Server enables an external hard drive, flash drive, memory card reader, USB webcam, USB speaker, USB Multi-Function Printer (MFP), or Other USB Devices to be shared on a network. With the versatility afforded by the USB Server, users can now enjoy their favorite multimedia content stored on their computer from anywhere in their home or office use. When connecting USB Server to a wireless router, users can access their multimedia content and USB devices wirelessly. The UPnP technology enables quick and easy setup and configuration in a Windows environment.
- Real Share 4 USB devices through your home or office network
- Share an external hard drive, flash drive or memory card reader with multiple users over your network
- Share a USB webcam over a network
- Enjoy music stored on any networked PC with a USB speaker*
- Supported protocols: LPR/LPD, DHCP, UPnP
- Supports Windows Vista Ralink Technology
Compatible Operating Systems:
- Windows 2000
- Windows XP/Vista/7 (32 and 64-bit)
- User's Manual (May 17, 2012)
- User's Manual (Jul 11, 2011)
- List of Supported Devices (Feb 20, 2012)
- Drivers for Windows XP/Vista/7 ver 1.29 (Oct 23, 2012)
- Drivers for Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7 ver 1.25 (Jan 24, 2011)
- Network Printer Wizard for Windows ver 1.29 (Sep 25, 2012)
- Network Printer Wizard for Windows ver 1.22 (Jan 11, 2011)
- Distribution disc for Windows ver 1.29 (Oct 23, 2012)
1 x 4-Port USB 2.0 Server
1 x CAT5 Patch Cable
1 x Power Adapter
1 x Installation CD
1 x User Manual
Compatible Operating Systems:
- Windows 95
- Windows 98
- Windows ME
- Windows NT
- Windows 2000
- Windows XP (32-bit and 64-bit)
- Windows Vista (32-bit and 64-bit)
- Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit)
Questions and Answers
The only caveat I ran into is that my client machine must be located on the same subnet as the USB server, or the client server cannot connect. I had hoped that I could set a fixed IP in the USB Server (and you can), and then set that same fixed IP in the client software (you cannot). For a typical home network which is going to have a single subnet, this won't be an issue.
As for actual use: the device has cleanly handled everything I've thrown at it without issues. The 1000M version removes any speed/bottleneck considerations. I daily use Dediprog SPI programmers, Arium emulators, Xilink and Actel FPGA programmers, serial-to-USB adapters, and flash drives attached to these USB servers, with never a hiccup. Just for fun I've tried several other devices: a Canon LIDE scanner (works seamlessly), an HP DJ932 printer (works), a cheap webcam (client software reported the camera as "behind a hub" and appeared to limit the bandwidth a bit, but otherwise worked fine), and I've ever attached an external HDD in a USB case (which worked as well as locally). This device fits my needs fantastically.
One place where this device is absolutely invaluable is if you use virtual machines. USB support in even the best of the hypervisors is soptty at best, except for limited devices such as storage. But with these units, you can run the client in the VM, and attach all those other devices (scanners, debug equipment, encryption dongles, whatever) to the client VM without a hassle. It makes it worthwhile to keep one of these right next to your actual machine just for that type of VM use!
As a final note, I'll mention that while this device might be considered by some to be a "shared server" device, you'll probably be disappointed if you think of it that way. Two people cannot use a given USB port at the same time, so if you two people were attempting to print to a remotely-attached printer, for example, they'd have to take turns. It's more of a remote "switch" in that respect. But if your needs are to simply remote a USB device, this is the perfect device.
If the client software were ever updated to support entry of fixed IP's to the target machine, so that you could target another (routable) subnet, it would be absolutely perfect. Perhaps some future software update... here's hoping.
PROS: Allows remote machines to access USB devices.
CONS: Client software doesn't allow discovery or use of the USB Server if it is not on the same local subnet there is no provision to enter a fixed IP address, even if it is routable. (Such as that typically found in a small business environement with multiple subnets inside the same firewall.)
PROS: People need to know what this is and how to use it. The name "USB print server" is the industry standard terminology, so its correctly advertised but all these USB print servers are NOT print servers, and they aren't supposed to be ! It is a universal USB extender over LAN. The fact that it works at near .5 GIG, (Full 480 b/sec USB 2.0 speed is fantastic. The $40 price is to.) It will transport ANYTHING USB over your LAN. It acts as a USB cable extender over your LAN. It lets you connect to multiple printers or hard drives, or cameras or anything USB anywhere on your LAN. You can have 4 old hard drives in the basement with it. While I haven't tried, you should be able to attach a 7 port USB hub to it and have even more USB devices of anything such as cameras more hard drives more USB hubs, you name it. The trick is whats on the other end. It is only designed as an extender so only one computer is supposed to connect to it. I realize that you want to share your printers and hard drives throughout your LAN. Don't worry, this is to your advantage. What you do is you make one of your old computers the server. You connect it to the hard drives in the basement over your LAN using this device. You then go into the properties of the device on that PC and click "SHARE". In this way The printer or hard drive is shared by whomever you select on your LAN. You can share to "ALL" or restrict access on each printer or hard drive separately. OH ! Why is this to your advantage? I'll bet your oldest PC is pretty old. This gives it a home. You now have a reason to have a server in your house, and you get to buy a whole new PC at your favorite outlet! What more could you ask for?
CONS: PCs take power, drat!
On the other hand, as a print server, the pseudo-exclusive access isn't as much of a problem. The software creates a physical printer on your system, then maps your existing printer the printer created when you directly connected the USB port to your PC and installed drivers to this new LPR physical printer on-demand. The existing printer (let's call it your "virtual" printer) looks Offline all the time, but if you print to the virtual printer, a virtual-to-physical connection is made and your job prints.
I gave this device a reasonable rating because it ranks as "acceptable" in the You-get-what-you-pay-for category. But it's by no means a miracle device. If you want per-file or media sharing, pay more and look elsewhere. If you need a usable, proprietary print sharing solution, then this will be fine. Additionally, if you somehow can live with selective, exclusive access to USB HDs, and don't mind manually releasing the device before being accessible by another computer (there's a 60-second timeout that's way too short), then perhaps this will work in your environment too.
PROS: Very fast access to attached hard drives.
Easy to set up and configure.
Small footprint with very little power draw, especially compared to a Windows server.
Allows reasonable sharing of printers with included drivers.
CONS: This is NOT a file server. It is a per-device network sharing portal.
The software is a bit "selfish" and doesn't work with other device-sharing software like HP Network Device monitor.
The software is a bit buggy. Double-clicking on the network-connected printer causes Explorer to crash.
PROS: Good as a network print server only, but not at the current price. As a print server it's rather convenient and effective.
CONS: Not as described. The ad claims "Share 4 USB Devices". This USB server DOES NOT allow sharing, it exclusively reserves an attached USB device to a network user IP, other users have to wait until the device is released.
PROS: If you connect this device to one PC over your LAN and share your printers and hard drives from the share menu in the printer section and hard drive section of windows operating system you should be able to use everything at the same time. You will will be restricted to less than 480b/sec total bandwidth. The older print servers are all less than 100b/sec. The less than is because there will be overhead bits such as LAN address bits etc.
CONS: To save power, use a laptop as a server. Remove the battery to run the laptop long term. Just use the laptop power adapter for power. Run it off a UPS if you like. Save the laptop battery. You can use your server for other things too, such as voip server, scanner server etc.
I don't have any plans to use it to "share" printers, scanner, or storage devices.
PROS: Each port can be individually set to reconnect (like a Persistent network drive setting would do) when the computer reboots by having the SW run at OS start.
Power supply provides a full 2.0 Amps. (USB 2.0 spec is for 0.5 Amps max load per port.)
CONS: Some webcams have reduced capability when connected through any USB Hub.
Some Webcams may lose some settings when the using system restarts. The Logitech Pro 9000 reverts to 320x240, while another, unbranded unit I have, seems to retain its settings.
I suspect that both of these CONS would be true of any USB Hub/Switch connected via ethernet.
PROS: Easy way to share any USB device on your network.
CONS: Must wait for timed-auto or manual disconnect before another can use the device.
previously, i shared these amongst my 3 systems via physically switching the corresponding USB cables to the printer of my choice ...
even then, that practice is not without its limitations ... normal USB cables should not run more than 3m at best esp for an AIO printer (scanner will fail) ... and i didn't wanna invest on a USB Repeater, or USB-LAN converter
so this device makes sense : connect USB printers to it, connect this device via LAN cable to router, hub, switch etc
it worked beautifully under Windows 7 ...
then, i upgraded to Windows 8 ...
drivers became invalid, had a terrible time, until i came across (and later confirmed by Monoprice Tech Support email as well)
the trick to installing without updated drivers is :
to run as admin, and setup in compatibility mode (see : http://www.online-tech-tips.com/windows-8/run-a-program-in-compatibility-mode-in-windows-8/ )
works as good as was in Windows 7 .... BUT !!!!
i kept losing connection ...
on the Network USB Server device list, my 2 printers will go missing after sometime (never happened in Win7)
tweaking firewalls, etc no lucking ...
only way around was to power down this Print Server ... and then the cycle will continue again
it's not really a big problem in my setup (just a little troublesome with having to reach out and pulling out the power connector from the back of the device) ... but still, i'm thinking of rectifying this if this issue doesn't go away ..
intend to extend the length of the dc power cord by cutting the original in 2, and adding a longer run with an ON/OFF toggle switch which i intend to place near my work desk :D
other issue lies mainly with Win8 at this moment ...
eg printing a jpg is still best done via the desktop mode, attempting to print via the new Win8 "photo" interface will result in loss of manipulating the size.
also, i selected 2 copies for prints, but only 1 got done and then printer stopped ...
re-tried the procedure in desktop mode, a ok, no problem ...
PROS: will work in Windows 8 setup ... no new drivers needed
just need to run in compatible mode
link : http://www.online-tech-tips.com/windows-8/run-a-program-in-compatibility-mode-in-windows-8/
CONS: have to restart device should printers go missing ...
PROS: Easy setup. Small form factor. Good looking design. Works well with my external hard drives and printers.
CONS: Once connected to one of the computers, the drives and printers cannot be shared with other computers on the network without first releasing them from the first computer. This is a bit of a problem if I forget to release the drives and go to my shop to work. In that case, I have to walk back into the house and manually release the hard drive(s) that I want to use with the computer in the shop. This is my only complaint. It isn't truly a server. However, for the price, it is well worth the money and once configured, the drives and printers work seamlessly.
PROS: Good fit and finish. Apparently works as stated.
CONS: Limited by software and applications.