All our software requires a connection at least once every 28 days. But there are ways to work around it.
As far as which way is best for you, it depends on how much you worry about having a connection on the controller machine and what you’ve done to make having a connection work better.
Scenario 1: Just not gonna connect.
These folks keep non-controller software that requires a connection on another machine in the shop and communicate via thumb drive. Personally, I couldn’t imagine having to work this way because the Internet is so useful in the shop. But, I guess it’s not unlike what you’d do if running a pro CNC with a Fanuc control as those can’t run other software either.
If you insist on no connection, you probably should leave all other software except the controller software off the PC too, even if it doesn’t require a connection. That’s the only way you’re going to ensure a sterile stable machine. Things like USB dongles for CADCAM software can also upset your parallel port’s timing some times.
Scenario 2: Connect when you want to run software, disconnect when you’re ready to machine.
A fair number work this way. It’s pretty easy with G-Wizard because you only need a connection once every 28 days. It’ll remind you when its getting close. You can connect the cable, login with GWizard, disconnect, and even reboot once disconnected and now you’re ready to go. This is probably the most common group.
Scenario 3: Quit using the parallel port and the connection largely doesn’t matter.
This is how I operate. I bought a Smoothstepper, I run connected, I play MP3’s, and do whatever else on my controller machine. It’s a very elderly and not so powerful laptop and it works fine for me. Never had a machine hiccup nor had it act weird. Of course this does mean the extra expense and complexity of a hardware board to replace the parallel port, so it may not be worth it. I have found Mach3 to be a lot more stable in general since switching to one, however. Personally, I wouldn’t want to go back to a pure parallel port setup.