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Also known as a switching hub or network switch, an Ethernet switch serves as a bridge between a local area network and the devices connected to it. Ethernet switches receive and route data packets between networked devices. They recognize the physical (MAC) address of each connected component and only forward data to devices that request it.
Choosing Between Managed and Unmanaged Switches There are different ways of classifying switching hubs, but the most common is to group them by the level of control they offer users. By this criteria, there are three types of switches: managed, unmanaged and smart. Unmanaged switches are the simplest kind. They are ready to use out of the box, require no programming and are not configurable. They are ideal for consumers, especially home users. Managed switches, on the other hand, are best for network engineers and businesses. They allow users to configure access, security and other features that provide control over the network. Smart or intelligent switches are intermediate devices between these two classes of switching hubs. They offer limited customizations and are suitable for those looking for some control over how their LAN (local area network) functions.
Features to Look for When Comparing Ethernet Switches In addition to providing full control to users, managed network switches are ideal for running multiple bandwidth-intensive applications simultaneously and for those who want advanced network services such as VoIP, video conferencing and wireless LAN. Before picking up a switch, make sure it has enough Ethernet ports for devices that will connect to it. To connect multiple switches, get models with uplink ports. In addition to the number and type of ports, port speed is an important factor to consider when comparing switching hubs.
What Is the Difference Between an Ethernet Switch and a Router? Although a router can function as a network switch, its primary purpose is to route data packets from one network to another. Therefore, it is a gateway device that sits at the intersection of two networks. In contrast, a switch connects to a network and moves packets across it from device to device.
Are Switches the Same as Hubs? Network hubs and switches are different devices even though they play similar roles. A hub also moves packets across a network. However, unlike a network switch, it broadcasts these packets from all of its ports simultaneously. While this is okay if a single networked device is sending packets, performance and data speed degrade quickly as more devices access the hub. A switch, on the other hand, identifies each connected device by its MAC address and only sends the packets it requests.
What Is a Gigabit Ethernet Switch? A Gigabit Ethernet switch is one with a top speed of 1000 Mbps, or 1 Gbps. Also known as a 10/100/1000 Mbps switch, it is 10 times faster than a 10/100 Fast Ethernet switch from the previous generation of networking devices.
Will a Switch Improve Your Network Performance? Yes, a switch can improve the performance of a network. Compared to hubs, network switches improve network performance by optimizing packet routing. In addition, a Gigabit Ethernet switch can boost network performance by delivering faster network speeds. Additionally, a switch's QoS (Quality of Service) features can optimize network performance by prioritizing traffic for bandwidth-intensive devices such as VoIP phones.