A small hardware computer networking device that links various network devices (or network segments), usually computers, together within a single local area network (LAN) is called a network switch. It acts as a manager for the sharing of multiple networks or computers on a single data connection and is the central device in a wired or wireless LAN. The term 'network switch' is commonly used (interchangeably) for a multi-port network bridge responsible for processing and routing data within the open systems interconnection (OSI) model at the data link layer or layer 2 level. For homes and small offices, network switches are an excellent and easy-to-use option. They are standalone units that allow multiple computers to connect to a single network and have, unlike hubs, the ability to manage the network traffic.
Home network switches are available at computer shops and are also provided by Internet service providers in some cases. They can also be acquired online from the comfort of one's home. eBay features a large collection of home network switches and related accessories in a number of associated variations for a diverse audience.
Types of Network Switches
Network switches can be categorised into four types, namely smart switches, unmanaged switches, managed switches, and enterprise managed switches. Every type has its own pros and cons that should be considered before making any purchasing decisions. The cheapest of all is the unmanaged switch, which is typically used by home users and small businesses and can perform basic functions for managing data flow. A managed switch has a user interface and offers more options to the end user for adjusting the settings of the switch. Its operation requires some skill. A smart switch is the mid-level option between a managed and unmanaged switch. The user interface in this case is Web-based and can easily be set with automatic, popular, default settings. An enterprise managed network switch offers a wide range of settings and is suitable for large companies.
Buying Considerations for Home Network Switches
Most routers have a built-in, four-port switch that is suitable for up to four computers. For more connections, however, a user should consider purchasing a home network switch. A home network switch facilitates the transfer of data with each connected device in the network at maximum transmission speeds. For a one-computer home, sharing is not an important consideration as the computer can easily be connected to the Internet through a cable or DSL modem, but for more than one computer, sharing is a critical consideration.
One of the most important performance characteristics of a home network switch is its speed. Switches with a data transfer rate of 10 Mbps or 100 Mbps (10/100 Mbps) are immensely popular and are more than sufficient for a typical home user. 10/100/1000 Mbps switches offer a higher data transfer rate, but they also need a 10/100/1000 Mbps network adapter to function properly and take maximum advantage of the hardware.
Ports (or Slots)
The number of ports determines the maximum number of devices or computers that can be connected to a network switch. The most popular switches have four ports, eight ports, 12 ports, or 16 ports. 24-port, 32-port, and 48-port network switches are also available. Home network switches, more often than not, offer four or eight ports, which are typically more than enough for a home setting as the number of computers is usually less than the number of ports on these switches. Generally, network switches with more than eight ports are suitable options for offices and enterprises.
In order to connect two switches via a normal port (not LAN or Internet), a crossover cable is mostly used. A single uplink port or a couple of uplink ports are additionally featured in some of the high-level models of network switches. They allow the connection of the network switch with another switch via the regular port, the one with a straight cable. This helps expand the total number of available ports in a network.
Luckily, the total bandwidth between two network switches increases to 1000 Mbps when a 10/100/1000 Mbps uplink port (available on some of the 10/100 Mbps switches) is used to connect to another 10/100/1000 Mbps network switch.
Typical Management Features
Several features of a home network switch can be managed by a user according to his or her requirements. Some models allow more optimisation options than others. A user should base the decision on his or her priorities.
Port range can be turned on or off, depending on the need. Duplex settings and link bandwidth can also be adjusted. A user also has the option of prioritising different ports over others. Through IP clustering, IP management can easily be accomplished. MAC flooding can be prevented by MAC filtering and other port security features. Port mirroring is an important management feature of a network switch, as well. It is also commonly known as a spanning port, link mode port, port monitoring, or SPAN port.
For faster data transfer rates, link aggregation techniques are used. Also known as bonding, teaming, or trunking, this technique uses multiple ports for the same connection, which ultimately boosts the data transfer rates.
SNMP and VLAN
Simple network management protocol (SNMP) monitoring of link and device health is also an important consideration. The size of broadcast domains can be reduced by creating visual local area networks (VLANs) that serve security and performance goals. A network can have several VLANs, and the users on a network can be divided into a number of groups for simple, effective administration. The users have the ability to assign or allot network bandwidth in a particular physical network.
Only receiving and sending ports can see the amount of traffic, and, therefore, it is quite hard to keep a check on the traffic bridged using a switch. A solution to this problem is traffic monitoring on the switched networked that can achieved by implementing port mirroring or other methods, such as SMON, sFLOW, or RMON in a switch. These features, however, are rarely present on common home network switches.
In port mirroring, a copy of network packets is sent by the network switch to a monitoring network connection. As a result of this, a network analyst can easily monitor the traffic. Another popular method of traffic monitoring is switch monitoring or SMON. It is a protocol that controls facilities, such as port mirroring.
Although it is not commonly recommended due to an induced delay, an alternative way to monitor traffic is to place a layer 1 hub between the monitored device and its switch port. In this process, a minor delay is experienced due to this intermediary hub, but a user is provided with multiple interfaces. Individual switch ports can be monitored using these interfaces.
A USB port in a home network switch is a highly desirable feature as it enables the connection of a printer or an external hard drive that can be shared with the rest of the network. The printer can be shared by all and can be used by all members on the local area network. The same is the case with the external hard drive. It can be streamed and accessed from all of the connected devices. Additionally, with the D-link SharePort technology, any computer on the network can recognise the USB device connected on the USB port of the router.
Quality of Service (QoS)
QoS is a feature of many routers and switches that prioritises the traffic. Important traffic can pass first, and, as a result, the performance of the switch is improved. It is a particularly important feature to consider for high traffic networks.
Buying Home Network Switches on eBay
An easy way to buy home network switches is to enter a relevant query into the search bar on the eBay homepage to begin the search. Some search terms for this case might be home network switch, network switch, unmanaged switch, managed switch, smart switch, etc. You can always shortlist the results based on your personal preferences by simply selecting one or more of the various filters. Related searches are often suggested by eBay for some queries, and this could facilitate the buying process and help you find the desired product quickly.
Enter your postcode to look for local results in order to save on delivery charges. If you are lucky enough to find the desired product locally, you can pick up the order from the seller at a convenient time as soon as the order is successfully processed. Going through the feedback and reviews left by previous customers is a common practice before making a purchasing decision.
A network switch is a small, electronic piece of computer networking hardware that connects many network devices or computers to a single local area network. Being the central device in the LAN, a network switch manages the sharing of multiple networks, computers, and peripheral devices over a single data connection. Unlike hubs, switches have the ability to effectively manage the network traffic. Smart switches, unmanaged switches, enterprise managed switches, and managed switches are the four types of network switches. The unmanaged switches are the least expensive and are widely used by home users as home network switches.
Several buying considerations should be kept in mind before making a purchasing decision in order to ensure the best switch for a network is purchased. Speed, ports, typical management features, traffic monitoring, SNMP and VLAN, and USB support are some of the prominent considerations. Local computer stores offer a selection of network switches for home users. Alternatively, eBay offers a large collection of home network switches with a variety of specifications.