Network Hubs and Switches
Hubs and switches function as a common connection point for the workstations, printers, file servers and other devices that make up a network. The main difference between hubs and switches is the way in which they communicate with the network.
What is a Hub?
A hub functions as the central connection point of a network. It joins together the workstations, printers, and servers on a network, so they can communicate with each other. Each hub has a number of ports that connect it to the other devices via a network cable.
How does a Hub work?
A hub is an inexpensive way to connect devices on a network. Data travels around a network in 'packets' and a hub forwards these data packets out to all the devices connected to its ports.
As a hub distributes packets to every device on the network, when a packet is destined for only one device, every other device connected to the hub receives that packet. Because all the devices connected to the hub are contending for transmission of data the individual members of a shared network will only get a percentage of the available network bandwidth. This process can slow down a busy network.
A 10Base-T hub Ethernet Hub provides a total of 10 Mbit/sec of bandwidth, which all users share. If one person on the network is downloading a very large file, for example, little or no bandwidth is available for other users. These users will experience very slow network performance.
What is a Switch?
A switch is more sophisticated than a hub, giving you more options for network management, as well as greater potential to expand. A switch filters the data packets, and only sends the packet to the port which is connected to the destination address of that packet. It does this by keeping a table of each destination address and its port. When the switch receives a packet, it reads the destination address and then establishes a connection between the source port and the destination port. After the packet is sent, the connection is terminated.
What are the advantages of a Switch?
A switch provides higher total throughput than a hub because it can support multiple simultaneous conversations. For example, when a 100Mbit/sec hub has five workstations, each receives only 20Mbit/sec of the available bandwidth. When a 10/100Mbit/sec switch is used every port on the switch represents a dedicated 100Mbit/sec path, so each workstation receives 100Mbit/sec of bandwidth.
Switches also run in full duplex mode, which allows data to be sent and received across the network at the same time. Switches can effectively double the speed of the network when compared to a hub which only supports half duplex mode.
Gigabit Ethernet Switches
LINDY GIGA N-Way Switches provide cost effective scalability of the network by utilizing the existing copper CAT5e cabling environment. Connectivity is not sacrificed because the same cabling is used for Ethernet, Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet.
These switches also incorporate VLAN technology. This feature is accessed from a console port on the switch and provides network administrators advanced configuration options and the ability to set up 'virtual' LANs which function as separate, secure network segments.
A managed switch allows the ports on the switch to be configured, monitored, enabled and disabled. Switch management can also gather information on a variety of network parameters, such as -
- The number of packets that pass through each of its ports
- What types of packets they are
- Whether the packets contain errors
- The number of collisions that have occurred
You should look for the following features on a managed switch -
- Gigabit Ethernet support
- SNMP management and remote control capabilities
- A management interface that can be accessed through an internet browser
- Auto-negotiation support which auto-senses the speed and duplex capabilities of connected devices
- Built-in expansion capability
Using a managed switch can reduce hidden costs by using -
- Switch and traffic monitoring to help head off problems before they occur, reducing user downtime
- Management tools that offer an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI) that simplifies configuration and monitoring tasks
- Management functions can be performed remotely using a web browser or directly via a console connected to the switch
Please click here to see the full range of LINDY Network Hubs and Switches
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