There are a lot of things to take into consideration when choosing a switch, router, or hub for your network. Although some people believe that these three terms are synonymous with one another, their function and use are very different. It is important to understand this difference before making a choice to purchase one or the other.
A network and all simplicity is a series of computers that are all interconnected with one another. Through this connection, any device that is connected to the network is also able to share information with printers and other similar devices. But, they cannot do this without the aid of an important piece of hardware that is designed to control the flow of information between all devices within the network.
A switch is considered to be self-learning, in that it not only receives information and data from each computer connected to it but is also able to properly transmit that information and data to any other device connected to it. The switch maintains a table of all devices that it is connected to so that it can determine not only what devices to send information and data to, but also the best way to send this data. Likewise, in order to prevent any bottlenecks in the network, a switch is capable of refusing packets of data that it considers being incomplete, or otherwise bad.
As a general rule of thumb, a switch is capable of speeding up connections within a network. Functioning much like a traffic cop, the switch is able to determine which devices on the network are sending information and data, and which ones are set to receive that information or data. This is important as it prevents the possibility of a collision between the information and data being sent from one device to another. As a result, while one computer may be accessing the Internet, another computer within the network can be sending data to a printer, without the two connections interfering with one another.
Some of the more advanced switches are also capable of being programmed. Depending on the need, it is possible to change the settings within a programmable switch, so that certain traffic is considered more important than other types of traffic. A good example of this would be a network that handles both gamers and people simply searching the Internet. Since gamers need to have a more stable connection to the Internet, a programmable switch can be set up to provide the gamers with higher bandwidth allotments than what is allotted for Internet browsing.
There is a big difference between a switch, a router, and a hub. Although many people believe these terms are interchangeable, these terms represent different types of devices whose functions are vastly different from each other.
If a switch is smart, self-learning, and programmable, then a hub can be considered a dumber version of a switch. Just like a switch, a hub is able to send and receive information and data from one device to another. But, unlike a switch, it does not know how to send that information or data to any specific device on the network, so it sends it to all of the devices at the same time. As a result, there is a lot of strain on the network, and packets of information often collide with one another. Although these devices are still available, they are used less frequently nowadays.
Routers are very common in most home networks. While a switch manages the interaction between multiple devices within the same network, a router is designed to manage interactions between multiple networks. The most common form of the router can be found in most modems, as they are designed to connect your home network to the Internet service provider’s network. While in general function, most routers are designed to be connected to a network switch, some devices may have limited switching abilities built-in.
There are three basic categories of switches that are available today. Depending on your needs and budget, you have the option of purchasing either an unmanaged, managed, or web-smart switch.
Considered to be one of the most commonly available switches on the market today, the unmanaged switch is not only the most affordable option but is also the easiest to use. Unmanaged switches are defined as plug and play, all you need to do is plug them in and they will work without any need for programming, or understanding of how they work.
A managed switch provides a number of more advanced features that are not available in an unmanaged switch. Generally reserved for data centers, and large businesses where traffic and monitoring are more important, managed switches allow an organization’s network administrator to control the resources that are utilized. An experienced network administrator can tweak and optimize a network’s capacity and resource utilization via a command-line interface.
Up until recently, managed switches could only be controlled via a command-line interface. As a result, this required an organization to have a dedicated network administrator to manage the system. Web-smart switches have changed the industry by introducing a web-based interface that allows any small organization to manage its own network with ease. These devices provide most of the functionality of a managed switch, with the help of a graphical user interface. However, web-smart switches also lack certain functions that many organizations may need including the ability to troubleshoot, monitor, and correct basic network issues.
For most home and small business needs, an unmanaged switch is the best option. They are simple to use and set up, and only require that you plug them in. But there are some things that need to be taken into consideration when making a final decision to purchase the right switch for your needs.
The number one consideration that comes to mind for anyone who is choosing to purchase a switch for their home or organization, is the cost associated with its purchase. Managed switches are sold based on their port size. They may come with anywhere from four, all the way up to 48 ports. The more ports that a switch has, the higher the price will be. As a result, you should only purchase a switch that meets the needs of your network and the number of users that you can accommodate. You should consider purchasing an Aruba switch as they have different models at different prices that will meet your needs.
Most home networks and smaller organizations will never have more than 48 simultaneous users. As a result, smaller networks can be controlled with a single switch. However, some midsize organizations may require more than 48 simultaneous users, and therefore will need more switches in order to manage the network. When there is a need for more than one switch and a network, each switch will also need to be connected to a centralized switch that is able to route traffic between them. However, the more switches you have inline, the slower the speeds between the devices become.
Network speed is an integral part of any system. There are a number of different options available out there when it comes to switching speeds. Ultimately, the overall speed of the switch needed will be determined by the usage of the network. If most of the users on the network are merely accessing the Internet, or sending files to a printer, then chances are you will not need a gigabit switch. Likewise, if there are devices on the network that require gigabit connections, choosing a 100 Mbps switch may cause bottlenecks when communicating with these devices. In the end, you should take the time to determine the number of devices that will be connected to your network, how they use that connection, as well as the potential for expansion later on. Knowing this information will answer that all-important question of what you should consider choosing the best switch for your network