What You Should Know About a Network Switch

The network switch is an important piece of a network, but the purpose of it and the difference between a switch and a router is often misunderstood. Knowing more about a network switch will help you better understand your network and this piece of it.

What are network switches?

A network switch is a piece of network equipment that is used to bring different segments within a network together. It is also known as a switch or a packet switch. When it comes to a local area network, or a LAN, a network switch is an important piece of equipment. This not only refers to smaller businesses but to medium or larger businesses and enterprises as well. The larger businesses will typically use linked managed switches to accommodate their needs.

Switches and routers look similar, but a switch is not nearly as sophisticated as a router is. The differences are within the internal components of these two pieces of equipment.

List of Network Switches

  • Managed Switches - Managed switches give you various configuration options that you can choose from. They are optional so you only need to choose the ones you will need. It also has a wide range of functionality. These switches can be operated in a variety of ways such as by using a command line interface, such as Telnet, or with a remote tool, such as Simple Network Management Protocol or SNMP.
  • Unmanaged Switches - A managed switch is extremely simple and does not have specific configuration options, but it does have plug and play technology. Out of the different switches, it usually costs the least amount of money. It is most often used in a small office or homes.
  • Smart Switches - Smart switches are extremely similar to managed switches. The difference between them is in the functionality and the types of modifications. A smart switch is limited in the modifications and functionality of it. They are often less expensive than a managed switch because of the limits on changes that can be made to it. Basic functions, such as turning ports on and off, duplex settings, link speed, and setting up ports as a priority, can all be found on a smart switch.
  • Enterprise Managed Switches - An enterprise switch is typically used by large businesses due to the numerous functions it has. They are usually the most expensive switch in the category of managed switches because they are more configurable than the others. Businesses that use this type of switch will often have them within a network that has other switches as well. They provide functions such as link aggregation, VLAN settings, and port mirroring.

Buying a Switch for Your Home, Home Office, or Office

Cisco, Alcatel, and 3Com are all manufacturers of switches. When the time comes for you to purchase a switch for your home or business, they can be purchased from online retailers out of the box. But if you are looking to stay within a budget or save yourself some money, you could go through an online reseller in order to purchase a used switch. Depending on the switch you are looking for, you could save yourself or your company thousands of dollars by purchasing used network equipment and hardware.

Using an online reseller to purchase your next switch is a good way to save money, but you need to be cautious of who you use. You will want to be sure that the reseller is the right one for you. There are a few things to check into before purchasing a product.

  • Warranty - Purchasing used equipment is a risk and a good warranty helps to put those risks to the side.
  • Discounts - Because the equipment is used, you should not be paying retail prices. The amount you pay should be at least 50 percent off of the retail price.
  • Customer Support - When you purchase network equipment, it is best to find someone with good customer support. If you have any issues or questions, it is best to be able to talk to a person.