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post #1 of 19 Old 07-31-2014, 12:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Network switch types. Are there differences?

Most people think that a network switch (the device you plug your network cables into) is a very simple device that helps split and share your network signals among multiple devices. At its most basic level that’s true. Switches though do much more. They assign what traffic goes to which device, they determine the best speeds of those devices and in more advanced switches can provide a host of features including adding QOS (Quality of Service), virtualization of your networks to isolate certain devices from one another (VLAN) and provide a trove of management capabilities and monitoring tools.

So do these added capabilities come with all switches? No. There are 4 different types of switches. The most common switch is the “Unmanaged” switch. This is the most basic type and as the name implies there is no management capabilities built in. You buy the speed of switch you want, Gigabit or 100baseT, plug it in, connect your devices and it works. No intervention needed or available short of plugging and unplugging cables.

The next level switch is called the “Plus” switch. This switch adds important new capabilities including QOS, Vlan, Web configuration and network traffic monitoring. The Plus switch option is not well known to the average user but really is the sweet spot in switch capability and value. For a modest price increase (10-15% over unmanaged switches) you gain a level of control and management that is important to gaining best performance in todays media centric homes.

The next two switch categories are enterprise grade. These are “Smart" Switches and "Fully Managed "Switches. The Smart switch builds on the capabilities of the “Plus" switch but adds more capabilities in areas of security management, traffic control, static routing, cable testing and outbound traffic monitoring to name a few. The Fully Managed Switch takes the Smart Switch to another level by providing a command line interface (CLI) that lets network administrators easily configure and deploy these switches in wide scale enterprise environments.

And lastly there are POE switches which are versions of Plus, Smart and Managed that provide power over the ethernet cabling to simply power network attached devices through the network cable. You will find POE versions in most versions of the Plus, Smart and Managed switch models.

So for the home user what switch would be best? Well if you have a simple home network and your use is basic email, web browsing and the like then the base Unmanaged switch will be fine. Buy the speed you want, plug it in and you are done. But if you are looking to have greater control and ability to manage what is happening in your network the Plus switch is the way to go. For a very modest price increase you get a huge jump in capability and performance.

Top NETGEAR Plus Switch models are GS105E-200 (5 port), GS108E-300 (8 port) , GS116E-200 (16 port)

http://www.netgear.com/business/prod...us-switch.aspx

Bob Silver
Netgear AV Consultant

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post #2 of 19 Old 07-31-2014, 02:46 PM
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Nice read. (Or ad)

I currently have a Netgear unmanaged switch. If I would upgrade to the plus, would someone be able to just plug into one of my Ethernet jacks and be good to go?

And could you elaborate in lay mans terms on the advantages of the plus switch? I don't want to complicate things.

And why can't I just plug my 24 port switch directly into my cable modem without first going thru my 4 port Netgear Router in which only one output is used?

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post #3 of 19 Old 07-31-2014, 03:58 PM
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Thanks Bob, I've been thinking about moving up a notch from unmanaged switches.

So, suppose you have a mixed network with a GS-10xE as the main hub and satellite GS-10x's that terminate single runs from the GS-10xE. Will having the GS-10x's in the mix negate the benefits of having a GS-10xE as the main hub.

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post #4 of 19 Old 07-31-2014, 08:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Nice read. (Or ad)

I currently have a Netgear unmanaged switch. If I would upgrade to the plus, would someone be able to just plug into one of my Ethernet jacks and be good to go?

And could you elaborate in lay mans terms on the advantages of the plus switch? I don't want to complicate things.

And why can't I just plug my 24 port switch directly into my cable modem without first going thru my 4 port Netgear Router in which only one output is used?
Good questions. The Unmanaged switch will work the same as a Plus or managed switch as it relates to plugging in another device. No benefit getting another type of switch. The benefits of Plus switches are enhanced abilities to manage things like quality of service, security and general management. Do want to get to far in the weeds here. Your fine with an Unmanaged switch.

Why you cant plug a switch into your modem instead of your router is this. Routers (be they wireless or wired) route the the internet connection translating its ip address into local addresses that are assigned to the devices on your local network. Routers have built in switches (the ethernet ports) and have a number of technologies that manage your network like DHCP server which is waht automatically assigns IP addresses to your devices. External switches like Plus switches would be used in conjunction with a router for added capabilities and or expansion.

Bob Silver
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post #5 of 19 Old 07-31-2014, 08:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Kelson View Post
Thanks Bob, I've been thinking about moving up a notch from unmanaged switches.

So, suppose you have a mixed network with a GS-10xE as the main hub and satellite GS-10x's that terminate single runs from the GS-10xE. Will having the GS-10x's in the mix negate the benefits of having a GS-10xE as the main hub.
Are you asking would you lose you POE capability adding non POE switches downstream from your POE switch Kelson?

Bob
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post #6 of 19 Old 07-31-2014, 09:24 PM
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Are you asking would you lose you POE capability adding non POE switches downstream from your POE switch Kelson?

Bob
No nothing about POE. Just asking that if you have a plus switch as the main hub in your network, do all the downstream switches also need to be Plus switches or can you use unmanaged downstream switches and still get all the benefits of the Plus switch as the main hub.

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post #7 of 19 Old 07-31-2014, 09:57 PM - Thread Starter
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No nothing about POE. Just asking that if you have a plus switch as the main hub in your network, do all the downstream switches also need to be Plus switches or can you use unmanaged downstream switches and still get all the benefits of the Plus switch as the main hub.

Yes you get the benefits of the Plus switch downstream. The thing to think about is what ever you have managed at the port where your downstream switches are will be treated the same. Meaning if you are monitoring port 4 and it is connected to a downstream to an unmanaged switch everything you set for port 4 will be the same in that downstream switch.

I think it is better to look at what you need a Plus switch for (VLAN is a good example). If you set up a VLAN on port 4 then the downstream switch and devices will be in that VLAN.

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post #8 of 19 Old 08-01-2014, 04:31 AM
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Thanks for the common sense answer, Bob.

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Originally Posted by bobsilver View Post
Routers have built in switches (the ethernet ports) and have a number of technologies that manage your network like DHCP server which is waht automatically assigns IP addresses to your devices. External switches like Plus switches would be used in conjunction with a router for added capabilities and or expansion.

Bob Silver
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Speaking of routers....
Why the heck haven't routers advanced in the switch department?? Great advancements in the wireless field, but for eons the average router STILL has 4 wired ports.
4 ports was great 10 years ago but come on... The talk of switches in a household network has increased exponentially. Is this not a hint that routers need to start coming out with 8 or even 10 ports?
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post #10 of 19 Old 08-01-2014, 06:22 AM
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Speaking of routers....
Why the heck haven't routers advanced in the switch department?? Great advancements in the wireless field, but for eons the average router STILL has 4 wired ports.
4 ports was great 10 years ago but come on... The talk of switches in a household network has increased exponentially. Is this not a hint that routers need to start coming out with 8 or even 10 ports?
I was thinking the same. Why can't they make say, a 8 or 16 port combination router/switch so you don't have to insert a router between your modem and switch?

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Originally Posted by bobsilver View Post
Most people think that a network switch (the device you plug your network cables into) is a very simple device that helps split and share your network signals among multiple devices. At its most basic level that’s true. Switches though do much more. They assign what traffic goes to which device, they determine the best speeds of those devices and in more advanced switches can provide a host of features including adding QOS (Quality of Service), virtualization of your networks to isolate certain devices from one another (VLAN) and provide a trove of management capabilities and monitoring tools.
Bob,

I've seen many a post in these forums where after the addition of a switch to a simple network managed by just a standard wireless router, UPnP/DLNA stops working.

Is there any advise you could give as to how to configure the network management devices to prevent this from happening? Also, what to look for in a new switch to make sure it supports UPnP/DLNA?

John
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post #12 of 19 Old 08-01-2014, 09:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Bob,

I've seen many a post in these forums where after the addition of a switch to a simple network managed by just a standard wireless router, UPnP/DLNA stops working.

Is there any advise you could give as to how to configure the network management devices to prevent this from happening? Also, what to look for in a new switch to make sure it supports UPnP/DLNA?

John

John,

I cant see how the switch would disable or interfere with a DLNA server or UPNP service. For all intent switches are basically passive in that they don inject anything. They just move data to the devices it needs to go to (assuming its a wired device). In the case of a Plus switch where you may set VLAN by port and it sits outside the DLNA net for example that I can see. But in general no.

I have UPNP and DLNA and have several switches in line. No issues what so ever.

Bob
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post #13 of 19 Old 08-01-2014, 09:36 AM - Thread Starter
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I was thinking the same. Why can't they make say, a 8 or 16 port combination router/switch so you don't have to insert a router between your modem and switch?
Consumer routers have a space design they are aiming for. Adding more ports can drive width of these routers significantly. Plus adding a switch based on needs is not costly nor complicated. In my case my router connects to a 16 port switch. Everything is wired to the switch. Makes for a nice clean and easy router setup.

Dont think you will see much change here. 4 ports is the norm.

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post #14 of 19 Old 08-01-2014, 11:31 AM
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I was thinking the same. Why can't they make say, a 8 or 16 port combination router/switch so you don't have to insert a router between your modem and switch?

A router IS a switch. The main reason why they don't have 8-16 port consumer routers is because the networked devices and associated infrastructure used by consumers are almost entirely WiFi only since notebooks/ultrabooks/2-In-1 hybrids have largely replaced desktops and smartphones/tablets are commonplace. There simply isn't much use of Ethernet on the consumer side unless you're an enthusiast with a lot of networked devices that can take advantage of it.
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A router IS a switch. The main reason why they don't have 8-16 port consumer routers is because the networked devices and associated infrastructure used by consumers are almost entirely WiFi only since notebooks/ultrabooks/2-In-1 hybrids have largely replaced desktops and smartphones/tablets are commonplace. There simply isn't much use of Ethernet on the consumer side unless you're an enthusiast with a lot of networked devices that can take advantage of it.
No, a Router HAS a switch. I must be the wired exception because I have 10 wired devices and only use the wireless for 1 camera and a tablet. A lot of things just don't work well at all with wireless like live streaming video (2 HDHomerun Primes) and file serving (Seagate NAS). I only use one port of my router because I use only the router functions: DHCP and Firewall.
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A router IS a switch. The main reason why they don't have 8-16 port consumer routers is because the networked devices and associated infrastructure used by consumers are almost entirely WiFi only since notebooks/ultrabooks/2-In-1 hybrids have largely replaced desktops and smartphones/tablets are commonplace. There simply isn't much use of Ethernet on the consumer side unless you're an enthusiast with a lot of networked devices that can take advantage of it.
Yes... agree with teddy....A router HAS a switch, not "is a switch".

Once again, the idea of additional switches on a household network has increased exponentially over the years. This means that additional ports are MOST DEFINITELY being sought after. No doubt wifi has grown, but CLEARLY so has the need (and want) for more ports.
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post #17 of 19 Old 08-01-2014, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by LexInVA View Post
A router IS a switch. The main reason why they don't have 8-16 port consumer routers is because the networked devices and associated infrastructure used by consumers are almost entirely WiFi only since notebooks/ultrabooks/2-In-1 hybrids have largely replaced desktops and smartphones/tablets are commonplace. There simply isn't much use of Ethernet on the consumer side unless you're an enthusiast with a lot of networked devices that can take advantage of it.
Your comment sorta shoots down what some people are doing nowadays, wiring there homes with Ethernet. Your comment does have merit because you are right about the use of wireless.

But I am like olyteddy, I have 5 locations that are wired. They are permanent devices and wired will always be superior. It is still wise to have a Ethernet jack in every room. (Where practical)

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One thing not discussed so far is the throughput capacity of the switch. Low end 4 port switches use a low cost chip to do the work, and when traffic on all the ports increases the total throughput limitation may become visible to the individual users.

Six port and 8 port switches have the same SoC (system on a chip) architecture, and one would assume more throughput, but it comes down to the switch h/w and firmware as to whether more bandwidth is available on each port (even when under-populated).

After "chaining" lots of cheap 4 port hubs to handle all the ethernet devices our house has accumulated, I finally chucked them all out and installed a 24 port hub, with "home run" CAT6 cables to each device. This has made a noticeable improvement in performance.

It's a managed switch built for small offices, and supports QoS and VLAN. The first thing I did was create a separate VLAN connecting my kids computers to the broadband WAN. If they download malware it can't escape their VLAN into the video server VLAN, or my VLAN connecting my laptop to broadband.

The children's VLAN has hours of operation and bandwith QoS. Useful when arguing about homework hours and bed time. The network bandwidth to the main home theater can be set higher for streaming netflix, than to individual bedrooms. All the HTPCs and media servers with 1 Gb NICs can scream along on their dedicated VLAN.
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post #19 of 19 Old 08-20-2014, 12:24 PM - Thread Starter
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One thing not discussed so far is the throughput capacity of the switch. Low end 4 port switches use a low cost chip to do the work, and when traffic on all the ports increases the total throughput limitation may become visible to the individual users.

Six port and 8 port switches have the same SoC (system on a chip) architecture, and one would assume more throughput, but it comes down to the switch h/w and firmware as to whether more bandwidth is available on each port (even when under-populated).

After "chaining" lots of cheap 4 port hubs to handle all the ethernet devices our house has accumulated, I finally chucked them all out and installed a 24 port hub, with "home run" CAT6 cables to each device. This has made a noticeable improvement in performance.

It's a managed switch built for small offices, and supports QoS and VLAN. The first thing I did was create a separate VLAN connecting my kids computers to the broadband WAN. If they download malware it can't escape their VLAN into the video server VLAN, or my VLAN connecting my laptop to broadband.

The children's VLAN has hours of operation and bandwith QoS. Useful when arguing about homework hours and bed time. The network bandwidth to the main home theater can be set higher for streaming netflix, than to individual bedrooms. All the HTPCs and media servers with 1 Gb NICs can scream along on their dedicated VLAN.
Great recap and thanks for the example. The only thing I would add is your use of the word HUB. It is an outdated term and can through people off. Today's world we are all using switches that differ significantly then hubs in that they can "switch" ip traffic to the port/device it is intended to as opposed to the hub which broadcasted all traffic everywhere thus slowing down the entire network.


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