Network switches are particularly interesting when you want to connect to several people together on a network – either to work together or at a network party to play together. You need switches with a particularly high bandwidth, if you want to hunt, for example, large amounts of data or even entire films through the airwaves. In particular, make sure that your preferred switches recognize virtual subnetworks (so-called VLANs) and, above all, whether a wall mount is available if necessary.
Purchase advice: How to find the right Switch in 2019
- You can expand your home network with a gigabit switch with at least 5 ports.
- For home users, an unmanaged switch is enough. A managed switch with additional features is interesting for companies.
- A switch is the evolution of the hub. LAN switch, Ethernet switch or gigabit switch is the same thing.
Many current home routers integrate four LAN ports and a WLAN module for the wireless connection of mobile devices. The wired connection is always safer, more reliable and faster . For this reason, you should connect stationary devices such as the desktop PC, the smart TV and AV receivers via cables to the router if possible. If the four ports are not enough, expand the number of network ports with one switch .
The switch works like a junction box for the router and allows you to connect multiple computers through a network connection. What to look for in the selection, you will now learn in the big switch comparison 2018.
1. What is a switch?
Switches are the key elements in the network and are responsible for exchanging data between the connected devices; they handle the switching of data from one port to another. The switch is the intelligent alternative to the hub, which is hardly used today. A gigabit hub, hub hub, ethernet hub, or simply hub, is a switch, just “dumber”.
Why is a switch smart? In contrast to the hub, the switch knows its connected devices and only sends the incoming data packets to the right device. That’s why it’s also called a smart switch. In comparison, a hub simply sends inbound data packets to all ports, resulting in unnecessary network traffic. The connected devices can be PCs, servers, notebooks, printers or other devices.
A switch is already integrated in a router , and also available as a stand-alone device. If necessary, you can use a switch to build a closed network (intranet)without Internet access or to extend an existing network . The typical application is to connect to a router to allow more devices access to the Internet.
2. What is the difference between managed switch and unmanaged switch?
There are two different types of switches in this category in the market. The following table summarizes the properties in a clear way:
Offers extensive adjustment possibilities
In companies the preferred choice
equipped with practical remote maintenance functions
For home users usually unnecessarily complex
Significantly more expensive in price
In home use widespread and usually the right choice Extends the network ports for devices such as NAS storage and VoIP phones
Info: Alternative designations for a switch are Ethernet Switch or LAN Switch, also Gigabit Switch is common and includes the specification of the speed for the data transmission.
2.1. The managed switch in detail
The managed switch is the more complicated device with many additional features. Access via the web browser is possible and you can make various settings.
Among other things, the managed switch is suitable for setting up a VLAN network with such a VLAN switch or for redirecting the traffic for a port – which is necessary when analyzing network traffic. For example, the feature helps detect a DoS attack.
2.2. The unmanaged switch in detail
The unmanaged switch offers no additional features and fulfills exactly the function that is required for most home networks. The user does not have to deal with technical jargon, just plug in the LAN cables and start exchanging data between the connected devices. The following list summarizes the pros and cons of the unmanaged switch for home use:
- easy handling
- meets the requirements for the home network
- lower acquisition costs
- less adjustment options
- less suitable for companies with complex networks
3. Selection criteria for a switch
A good Ethernet switch consumes little power and provides high data throughput. Pay attention to the volume, in some cases the LAN switch is equipped with a fan. For home use and small businesses, a small Gigabit switch with five Ethernet ports is an option. For the LAN switch to automatically detect the cable type, it must support the MDI / MDIX function.
3.1. Number of LAN ports
A switch with 5 ports, a switch with 8 ports or more? How many devices should be connected to a network? Most home-use switches have five or eight ports.
If you already use three of the available four ports when you buy a five-port switch , you better buy an 8-port gigabit switch right away – it’s quite possible that another device will soon be integrated into the network. Most companies need a 16-port Gigabit Switch.
3.2. Switch type: managed or unmanaged?
For home use, unmanaged switches provide sufficient performance and features. In addition to the PC and smart TV, connect the printer, PlayStation, and NAS server to the switch.
Managed switches are the right choice for companies that can use remote maintenance for problems, for example. The administration can be very complex and extensive, the average user is hardly interested. Here are a few examples of managed switch features:
- RADIUS Authentication : This is client verification using certificates. Each user is assigned specific rights.
- MAC Address Filtering : Each network device has a unique MAC address that can be retrieved within a network. By filtering the MAC address, for example, the access of a specific notebook can be explicitly allowed or blocked. In the home network, for example, you can only enter and allow the MAC addresses of your own devices so that third-party devices can not gain access to the network by plugging in a LAN cable.
- Port Mirroring : Port mirroring allows all traffic from one port to be redirected to another. This allows detailed analysis and monitoring of network traffic.
3.3. Support of QoS
If the network is to enable real-time applications such as Voice-over-IP, supporting QoS is of particular importance. Because with such time-critical applications, there should be no delays. Using Qos, data streams can be prioritized so that the data stream for IP telephony is brought forward to the stream of full HD video.
3.4. The maximum data throughput or the bandwidth
Whether Zyxel switch, D-Link switch or a model from another manufacturer or another brand, usually the throughput of the backplane is specified as the product of the number of ports with GBit times two (duplex). As a result, for example, an eight-port dlink switch has 16Gbps backplane throughput.
3.5. Power over Ethernet – PoE Switch
The power consumption can be made via plug-in power supply or via LAN cable. A PoE switch supports Power over Ethernet (PoE) and can power connected devices via the LAN cable with RJ-45 connector.
Since each additional power supply leads to losses, you should use as few power supplies as possible and cover the power requirement via PoE if possible. The total PoE power is 15 watts, new devices support 25 watts.
4. FAQ: questions and answers about the switch
If the connections on the router are not sufficient for the connection to the Internet, for example due to IP telephony, extend the network connections with a switch. The following questions are frequently asked.
4.1. What is a Switch Layer 3?
The “layer” is a layer. The architecture of networks is composed of several layers. For example, a Layer 2 switch is very fast because the function is programmed directly into the hardware. Compared to alternatives, however, the functionality is low. In contrast, a Layer 3 switch offers a large range of functions, which are used as nodes in larger networks. The functionality is comparable to that of a router. For home users, Layer 3 switches offer few advantages.
4.2. How to cascade a switch?
A switch can be connected to another switch connected to another switch, etc. Cascaded switches are always used when multiple switches are connected in this way . With switch connection, this possibility can be used to build a large, branched network.
4.3. Does a network switch work without power?
Older switches are always delivered with their own power supply. Each power supply, however, means additional heat loss. For powering network hardware, power over the LAN cable (RJ-45) is the alternative. While the PoE Switch runs partly with its own power supply, connected devices with a consumption of less than 15 watts can be operated without their own power supply.