In my old home office, my wife and I had to share a room of less than 100 square feet. In this room we had three computers, a fax machine, a printer/scanner, modem, switcher and a ton of other stuff. My new office is less crowded and I will keep it that way. Of course, one issue is that I don’t want the new office “junked” up with too much computer stuff.
Fortunately we were able to devote a closet to office supplies, hardware and other computers peripherals. Even if you don’t have a closet for your home office I would recommend cabinets or an extra dresser just to clean up the clutter. It makes working so much better when everything has its place.
But the more important point for me is that I need multiple computers, but don’t want to actually have multiple computers. The same can be said for many small businesses as well as those who work from home. Chances are you might have multiple computers but don’t need to have multiple computers set up.
First, I would like to add before jumping in too deep, that Windows has made it possible for a single PC to have multiple users. When one person logs in the computer is customized to his/her needs. That’s really good for those offices where two or more part time workers—possibly interns—need to share a single computer. The downside of this solution is that should the PC become infected with a virus every user is infected. Worse, should the hard drive crash everyone loses everything.
There is an option for using two computers at the same location, but only needing one desk along with a single monitor, a single mouse and a single keyboard. In my office I use a KVM (Keyboard, Video, Mouse) switch. Thus two computers can be used with one set of mouse/keyboard/monitor.
While most of these switch boxes do the same thing, you should try to make sure that it is compatible with your various devices. I recently had the opportunity to try out Belkin’s SOHO (Small Office Home Office) KVM switcher and it does the trick. This little box basically lets you connect one keyboard, one mouse and a monitor to two computers. I was pleased with the monitor support, and had virtually no trouble with the mouse or keyboard. This switcher even works with my speaker set-up, but I opted not to use it this way since my speakers have multiple inputs and I use the digital optical outputs from my gaming PC.
I need two PCs since I use one machine for e-mail, Word, spreadsheets and other “business” applications; and I use the other computer for testing software, including games. This way should a new program cause a crash I don’t lose everything. Likewise, I can let e-mail run in the background, press a button and toggle between the computers.
This is a solution I recommend to anyone who has multiple computers and is tight on space, but more importantly the two computers are seldom used at the same time. This is where a KVM switch can’t toggle on miracles. Only one PC can be used at a time. But if you have a work machine, and the kids have a gaming PC this can save you from having to share anything more than the desk, mouse, keyboard and monitor.