When your household or business needs to have more than one device hooked up to your network, whether it is for file sharing, utilizing the same devices, including a printer, or general communication, you will need a switch (managed vs unmanaged swtich) to connect. Depending on how many devices you would like hooked together, you can get a switch that has anywhere from five to 48 ports.
Once you have determined that you need a network switch, you will have to compare a managed vs unmanaged switch in order to see what would be best for your needs.
How to Buy a Managed vs Unmanaged Switch
Whether you are looking for a managed switch vs unmanaged switch, you need to know what you are doing before you purchase one. These are the things to consider when shopping for a switch.
Switches can have a lot of ports if you need them, but if you are only hooking up a couple of computers to a network, you can go with fewer ports. For switches on a home network, you should be fine with a switch with 5 or 8 ports, whereas a larger business may want 10, 24, or even 48 available ports. More may seem like better, but more ports usually equals spending more money. You do not need the largest switch for your home network.
Speed of Managed vs Unmanaged Switches:
Depending on what your intent for the switch is and what you use your bandwidth for, you need to ensure that you have the right speed. If you are just on a home or small business network, a transfer speed of 10 or 100 Mbps should be adequate. Conversely, if you are looking for a larger-scale network either because of the size of the business or you are a video game enthusiast, you will need a higher transfers speed. The faster switches are 10/100/1000 Mbps and built to handle a lot of traffic.
Who Uses an Unmanaged Switch?
First, let’s see who uses an unmanaged switch, also known as a “plug and play.” Typically, unmanaged switches are used in homes and small businesses that just need a simple network setup rather than a setup that is more complicated. The people who normally use it do not have high security concerns about what is shared throughout the network and will not suffer bandwidth concerns over which device is draining the most of the signal. An unmanaged switch has no built-in intelligence beyond looking at the incoming and outgoing signals.
Unmanaged Switch Pros
- Easy to operate. You plug in the computers and the computers are able to communicate through the Ethernet cords.
- They require no configurations or changes to function.
- Fast setup for multiple computers.
- Can offer redundant power inputs, keeping things backed up when the network is down.
Unmanaged Switch Cons
- No ability to configure the switch’s settings or control traffic.
- There is no priority between signals.
- All devices can share data, potentially harming security.
- Susceptible to signal loops.
- There is no VLAN support available.
- They have no SNMP communication.
Who Uses a Managed Switch?
Managed switches are used in more complex networks, where you may want all of the devices to be able to access certain things, but maybe not everything. Having the ability to monitor what device is doing what is essential for a larger network’s safety. You will also be able to identify bandwidth drains in order to keep everything up and running efficiently.
There are two types of managed switches: the smart switch and the fully managed switch.
A smart switch does a lot of the work for you, but is more limited in its available configurations. They are simpler to use and cost less money. These are best for home use or a smaller business that will not require a lot of control.
The fully managed switch is best-suited for larger corporations or enterprises. They provide a wide array for tools and special features that allow you to control and monitor the network effectively. They are more expensive and would be excessive in a home environment.
Managed Switch Pros
- Quality of Service (Qos) lets you prioritize traffic throughout the network and keeps track of the available bandwidth. That way, the most important devices receive the bandwidth they need.
- Managed switches also come with VLANs to clean up traffic, aid with security, and to group devices without having to run cables to everything.
- They can diagnose network issues by using Port Mirroring, so the network can stay up and running while it works out its problems.
- They will let your monitor your network and see performance issues using the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP).
- The managed switches also have a redundancy feature that is meant to back up the system in case of failure.
Managed Switch Cons
- They may be more than you need and complex to operate.
- They will not function well if they have not been properly configured. An experienced tech would need to set it up.
Having a switch is an excellent way of handling a network of computers or simply connecting a wireless printer to multiple locations. Switches will allow your network to be more efficient and manage your data transfer rate so it remains optimized.
When you are evaluating a managed vs unmanaged switch, ultimately the switch you want is entirely up to you. You should not get a managed switch unless you or someone you know is comfortable managing a LAN and being able to configure everything to use it effectively. Even though an unmanaged switch seems basic, that does not mean it does not have other features that make it a useful tool in your network. A managed switch really does require a network administrator. Otherwise, in a small network environment, the simple unmanaged switch should be adequate. On the other hand, in a large and fast-paced network, an unmanaged switch will not give you the adequate security and abilities that you would require. Ultimately, you need review managed vs unmanaged switches and determine your own network needs to choose the best switch for you.