Network switches, although commonly overlooked, are a valuable part of any computer network. The technology essentially connects multiple computers and other devices to a single network, such as printers, fax machines, and photocopiers. When connected, devices are able to exchange email and other messages with each other. Network switches also allow client computers to store files on a server.
There are various types of network switches. Each type has the ability to inspect packets of information sent on the network before routing it to its designated location based on the sender and recipient addresses. Network switches vary in cost and those with a greater number of ports tend to be more expensive. Before considering the pros and cons of network switches, buyers should consider the various types and understand the different factors to consider in order to buy the right switch. Network switches can be bought from retailers such as eBay.
Types of Network Switches
There are various types of network switches including local area network (LAN), unmanaged, and managed. When purchasing a network switch, buyers should consider the size of their network as well as the type of functions they would like their switch to perform. The various types and their functions are listed in the table below.
Types of Network Switch
Local area network
Used to connect nodes on a company's internal LAN
Also known as a data switch or an Ethernet switch
Prevents the collision of data packets flowing through a network by the efficient allocation of bandwidth
Reads the transmitted data packet before routing it to its intended receiver
Minimises network congestion by broadcasting a package of data only to its intended target
Commonly used in home networks and small businesses
Allows devices on the network to communicate with each other
Does not need to be monitored or configured using external software applications
Easy to set up; requires only cable connections
Ideal for small and medium networks
Can be modified to suit the functionality of a particular network
Managed by an embedded simple network management protocol (SNMP), secure shell, or through a serial console
Type of managed switch
Offers most of the features of managed switches without their cost or complexity
Able to configure virtual LANs, ports, and set up trunking
Ideally used in fast LANs
Type of managed switch
Also referred to as fully managed switches
Has a wide range of management features, including web interface, SNMP agent, and command-line interface
Able to restore, backup, modify, and display configurations
Has more features than traditional managed and unmanaged switches
Generally more expensive
Found in large enterprises, which are comprised of a large number of connections and nodes
Avid gamers should consider investing in a local area network switch as this allows them to join multiple computers together so that they are able to play in large groups. Large businesses may better benefit from a managed network switch, which is able to handle larger connections and nodes. In addition, enterprise managed network switches offer a wider array of features and functions required by network administrators for increased manageability and security. Network administrators are able to control the network switch's functions manually, such as enabling or disabling ports, or regulating port speed. Features, such as Quality of Service (QoS), help to prioritise traffic, allowing important data to pass more quickly.
Pros of Network Switches
There are many pros of using network switches for communication. They handle network traffic successfully, while making efficient use of the available network bandwidth.
Packet Handling of Network Switches
Network switches are able to route packages to designated end locations within a network. This is an improvement on their hub predecessors, which are only able to send packages from one device to all other devices attached to their network, without specification. This feature eliminates Ethernet collisions.
Collision Management of Network Switches
Collisions generally occur when multiple computing devices attempt to transmit information simultaneously. This in turn causes the signals to collide. Devices must then try to retransmit the data at a later point in time. In general, the more devices on a network switch, the greater the number of collisions that are likely to result. Network switches eliminate collisions successfully by creating a direct on the fly connection between the sending and receiving devices or computers. This improves performance and efficiency across the network, allowing for complete bandwidth availability.
Bandwidth Utilisation of Network Switches
Network switches allow for the availability of the full gigabit of bandwidth for each connection. This means that network performance remains unaffected by multiple devices working on the same switch.
Problem Isolation of Network Switches
Each device operates on its own wire within a network switch. This makes it easier to pinpoint the area of concern should a problem arise on a given switch port. It also allows other devices to continue to function normally without disruption.
Cons of Network Switches
While there are many pros of network switches, buyers should familiarise themselves with the cons of using this technology. Network switches tend to be complex, requiring extensive user understanding in order to keep the network functioning as intended. This is especially important when handling multicast packets as proper configuration is essential. In addition, network switches are more expensive than their hub counterpart.
When running in promiscuous mode, switches often become defenceless to security attacks such as spoofing IP address and the capturing of Ethernet frames. Promiscuous mode is used, for example, to monitor network usage. It enables every network packet to be intercepted and read in its entirety. So, network switch users should take proper security measures when using this technology.
Factors to Consider When Searching for a Network Switch
When searching for a network switch, buyers should consider both speed and number of ports provided. These factors can help to determine the most appropriate network switch for a given application.
Speed of Network Switches
When searching for a network switch, it is important to consider speed. If planning to use the network switch for in the home or office, buyers should consider those capable of 10 or 100 Mbps data transfer rates. Conversely, 10/100/1000 Mbps switches provide higher data transfer rates and are better suited for large-scale business applications. It is important to note that a network adapter should be used in conjunction with this speed for optimum performance.
Ports of Network Switches
When searching for a network switch, buyers should consider the number of devices or computers they plan to connect. This helps to determine the proper number of ports needed. Port size directly determines the maximum number of computers that can be supported by a given switch. Switches with four or eight ports are best suited for in home use, while those with more than eight ports are ideal for office and enterprise use. The number of ports is one of the biggest determinants of network switch cost, with a greater number of ports costing more. Common numbers of ports on a network switch are 5, 8, 10, 24, or 48.
How to Buy a Network Switch on eBay
Shopping for a network switch can require some research to determine the pros and cons of the technology. There is a wide variety available on eBay and the ease of purchasing shows you how convenient shopping can be. From the eBay home page, simply enter your search for any type of network switch into the search box and a wide variety of results appear. If a more specific type of switch is required, then add more descriptive keywords to the search phrase. Alternatively, for more selective listings, you can use eBay's advanced search feature to filter your search to exact specifications.
Before finalising any purchase on eBay, investigate the seller thoroughly. This is simply a matter of reading a seller's feedback comments and checking their rating. A good rating indicates that the seller is known for dealing fairly within the eBay community. Sellers with consecutive positive feedback ratings from buyers over an extended period of time are indicated by their Top-rated seller badge.
Whether looking for a manageable way to play games across a network of computers or hoping to connect to a printer wirelessly from multiple remote locations, a network switch can improve both efficiency and data transfer rates significantly. When searching for this technology on eBay, buyers should consider how many computers they are planning to connect as this helps to determine the appropriate number of ports.
It is also important to bear in mind the type of setting the network switch is to be used in. An unmanaged network switch is best suited for the home and smaller work environments. These switches generally require a slower data transfer rate, or speed. On the other hand, large-scale businesses are more likely to require a managed network switch for optimum performance. So, greater transfer rates are needed. eBay has a wide variety of network switches designed to fit the needs and budget of any consumer.