When designing a network, a network switch is effectively its core, or its “brain”. It’s networking hardware that connects all devices together on a LAN (Local Area Network), redirecting and forwarding data to the correct destination. When running a business, it’s important to ensure that you have a network switch that helps you effectively cover the needs of your entire IT scope.
Switches come in various sizes that allow them to have any number of ports up to 48, but the differences go deeper than that when it comes to managed switches and unmanaged switches. Here, we’re going to define the two types, look at the differences between them, and help you decide which is right for you.
An unmanaged switch is simple, connecting Ethernet devices with a fixed configuration that you cannot make any changes to, often used for small networks or to add temporary groups of systems to a larger network. A managed switch, on the other hand, also allows you to manage, configure, and monitor the settings of your LAN, including controls over LAN traffic, prioritizing certain channels, and create new virtual LANs to keep smaller groups of devices segregated and to better manage their traffic. Managed switches also offer redundancy features that duplicate and recovery data in the event of a device or network failure.
The advantage to unmanaged switches when it comes to performance is that you can plug and play immediately with your network. There’s no need to set anything up, and it has in-built QoS services to ensure its working well. With a managed switch, however, you can prioritize channels at will, ensuring that you get the best performance where you need it. Furthermore, features like Priority SNMP, which allow for remote troubleshooting of the network, also make it even easier to check for any issues impacting that performance, allowing you to implement fixes if necessary.
The Differences Between Managed and Unmanaged Network Switches
On a basic level, an unmanaged switch allows you to immediately plug-and-play devices into your network, while a managed switch allows for greater control over it. However, the differences go deeper, so it’s time to look at the features, performance, security, cost, and application of each.