When it comes to the cost, the comparison is relatively simple. You can find unmanaged switches usually in price ranges from $50 to around $100 (USD) or more. This price usually depends on how many ports you need the switch to have. With managed switches, however, you should expect significantly higher costs. These can range from anywhere in $1500 per port to $2800 (USD) per port. The prices here are more affected by the different features, such as security and access controls that you’re paying for in addition to the switch’s configuration abilities.
Size is not the only thing that matters when deciding on the right switch, as you can get switches with any number of ports, both managed and unmanaged. However, when it comes to smaller networks, such as for small businesses, the home, a single office, or so on, then an unmanaged switch is more likely to be used. Managed switches are better suited to enterprise-sized businesses with a much larger network scope, or for those that use things data centers and need much better control over the traffic within their network.
Unmanaged switches, on the whole, have very basic security. They’re secured by ensuring you have no vulnerabilities from system to system, which accessories like a lockable port cover can ensure no-one is tampering with the device directly. Managed switches have some major security benefits, such as the ability to monitor and control the network to shut down active threats, protection for data, control, and management plan. The security features differ from different managed switchers, from network communication encryption, access control lists that keep out unauthorized users, and VLANs can also be used to create temporary or limited access to your network for those that normally shouldn’t have access.
It is, however, worth noting that managed switches offer a lot of control over your network that could, potentially, be a threat. As such, they should be monitored and controlled with only a network technician having the highest level of access privileges. In our changing digital landscape, cyber security has become paramount importance of 2019.
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.
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.