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Serial/COM Port

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006 by | Filed Under: Computer Terms
 
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Q:
What is a serial port and is it any different than a COM port?

A:
This can be a little confusing, so I’m glad you asked. We have touched on this topic before, but it wasn’t a very in depth description, so I do believe it’s time we change that! And that’s what I’m here to do for you all today. Keep reading to learn all about these two computer terms.

To begin, a serial port (in the computer world) is an information transfer port. It is designed to help transfer information from one device to another. It’s basically just another port that is included with your computer that is designed for a serial cable. Now, serial ports may not sound very familiar to you and that is because they are a little older than say, a USB port or an Ethernet plug in.

Serial ports are designed more specifically for devices that are RS-232 compliant. This helps connect such devices as a terminal or a modem. Before USB ports came along, this is how mice, keyboards and other hardware were connected as well. Of course, serial port transfers are going to be a little slower than the newer technologies as well, but that’s to be expected.

The serial cables that go along with the ports are any combination of DB9 or DB25 connector types. Those can be either male or female as well. Originally, they were designed for a 25 pin connector, but they have since then been modernized to a connection like a USB port, with a few less pins. As I said before, they are not known for their speed anymore, but the cables can go up to approximately 50 feet, which is always helpful if you’re still using this type of data transfer.

Now, you also asked what a COM port was and if it was any different from a serial port. Basically, they are the same thing. COM is just another name for a serial port, so you can refer to them in either reference. You can check to see if your computer has one by looking at the back of your PC tower. The port is just a rectangle shaped connecter that fits some hardware peripherals, etc. They look something like this:

Hopefully that helps clear up the port mystery for you!

~ Erin

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