All You Need To Know About Ethernet Switches

All You Need To Know About Ethernet Switches

An Ethernet switch is a central hub connected to every network device and computer. The router has a built-in Ethernet switch. There are two types of Ethernet switches: managed and unmanaged. There is no user configuration present in unmanaged Ethernet switches mainly because of their placement in the network.

After turning on the unit and plugging the cables, there isn't much left to do. On the other hand, large companies use managed switches. These switches have configurations for monitoring traffic and adjusting speed. They can even form subgroups by combining the users.

Ethernet Switches Uses

In case you didn't know, Ethernet switches are also known as hubs. However, there is a vast difference between a switch and hub. Switches have taken the place of the majority of Ethernet hubs, which has been a critical factor for improving network performance and quality.

LAN Cables In Port

In simple words, an Ethernet switch connects many laptops, personal computers, servers, and other devices that have IP to a LAN connection (Local Area Network).  

How Are Ethernet Switches Used?

Ethernet switches resort to RJ45 ports to connect to personal servers, computers, and routers among many other things. High-speed uplink ports are prominent features of many Ethernet switches; they provide you the option of connecting UTP cables or fiber optics for increasing quality and speed.

Places That Commonly Use Ethernet Switches

Ethernet switches are prevalent in commercial and industrial applications. Home offices, small offices, military offices, and internet service providers are familiar places and businesses that commonly use Ethernet switches.

What Is The Difference Between Industrial And Commercial Ethernet Switches?

Let's take a main difference between those two switches:

Commercial Ethernet Switches

Data centers and IT departments commonly use commercial Ethernet switches, as these places have controlled environments and it is convenient to mount them on racks and desks. In comparison to industrial switches, the commercial Ethernet switches have lower (MTBF) mean time between failures.

The commercial Ethernet switches do not respond well to vibration and shock. These switches are entirely dependent on cooling fans and various other factors that can damage the switch if they collapse. The operating temperature of commercial Ethernet switches ranges typically between fifty degrees Fahrenheit to ninety-five degrees Fahrenheit.

Industrial Ethernet Switches

These switches do not have a single point of failure (SPOF) as they do not have any moving parts. The industrial Ethernet switches are designed explicitly for extreme environments and harsh weathers. It makes them far superior to the commercial Ethernet switches.

The wide operating temperature range of industrial Ethernet switches is between minus forty degrees Fahrenheit to one hundred and sixty-seven degrees Fahrenheit. Most switches have an IP (ingress protection) rating allowing them to steer clear of washdowns, dirt, and dust.

These switches are way safer as the SELV (Safety Extra-low Voltage) feature ensures that industrial Ethernet switches accept 24 V DC power. That is another reason why the industrial switches are much more preferable than the commercial switches.

Ethernet Switch Vs. Router

Some people often use the term router and Ethernet switch interchangeably, when in fact these things are entirely different. In Ethernet switches, the Internet providers send signals from the modem to the switch, which then sends the digital signals to the Ethernet compatible devices. 

The devices can connect to the internet solely because of the switch. It gives these high-tech devices the leverage of communicating with each other via a network. Ethernet switches are unable to function without a wired connection.

Ethernet Switch And Wireless Router

However, after receiving the signals from the internet provider, the router converts them into wireless signals for your wireless devices. An Ethernet port is always present on the router, giving you the option of connecting your router to the modem.

There are even additional Ethernet ports that you can connect to the majority of the routers, allowing you to create a quicker connection to various stationary devices, for example, the desktop PC.

Ethernet Switch Vs. Ethernet Hub

Ethernet Switch

The Ethernet switch gives you the option of connecting to numerous devices. It even allows you to manage VLAN security and ports. Ethernet switches operate at a speed of 1 Gigabyte per second. Common Ethernet switch manufacturers are D link Juniper and Cisco.

These switches have the option of spanning- tree. The Ethernet switches have a full duplex transmission mode, which does not have any collisions. Ethernet devices are capable of learning and storing MAC addresses

Ethernet Hub

Multiple devices can exchange data with each other. The hub has a half-duplex transmission mode, and the occurrence of collisions is significant. Cisco, Oracle and Sun systems are its manufacturers.

Ethernet hubs do not have software and are a passive device. There is no Spanning-tree in Ethernet hubs. Hub only has a single broadcast domain.

Creating Your Own Home Or Office Network 

A necessary element that homes and modern businesses need to thrive is the existence of a computer network. Checking e-mails, updating websites or organizing a teleconference requires connection to the web, and what better way to connect multiple devices to the World Wide Web than a network?

Networks even allow you to communicate with other computers present on a similar interface. Following are these instructions for installing a home or office network.

Wireless Or Wired network

The first step is to select the kind of internet network that would be most optimal for you. Since we are talking about Ethernet switches and wired computer networks would be the way to go. Wired networks use Ethernet instead of a UTP cable. A wired network is faster, which is why people prefer it. Following are some advantages of wired networks;

  • Wired networks are reliable and secure
  • Wired networks are quicker than wireless networks and provide speed up to 10 gigabytes per second

Designing The Network

You will need to decide the number of rooms you want to run your wired network in; this is vital.  It will significantly help you out in determining the cost of the computer network, and how many feet of cable you would require.

Different LAN Cables

Once you have bought the cable, you'll need to figure out the best junction point for all of the wires to meet.  People often opt for a cupboard or a closet behind the desk to store their cables in as leaving them out could be potentially dangerous and untidy as well.

Deciding On A Cable

There are several cables available in the market. Examples of the most prominently used ones are Coaxial, Cat 5e, and Cat 6. The coaxial cables are not as prevalent in network computing as they are better for TVs.

The Cat 6 is the preferred choice of most businesses as it is efficient, cheap, and swift. However, its wiring requires an extended period; but, it will be a small sacrifice for a good quality network. 

If you do go ahead and buy the Cat 6 cables, you will have a couple more options as the Cat 6 cables have STP and UTP types of electric wires. The difference between these two types is that the STP cable is well-shielded and the UTP cable is unshielded.

Even though a bit expensive, the shielded cables are a good option as they have an extra protective layer for enduring damage, wear, and tear. Businesses mostly use shielded cables, if you're planning to install a network at home then go with the unshielded cable.

Here are a few tips that you can follow to install a home or office based network efficiently;

  • check
    Look for the best place to secure your Ethernet or router
  • check
    Decide the locations for the cable connections
  • check
    Decide where you will route the cable (through the walls, in the attic or under the house)
  • check
    Buy some faceplates and install them to get a cleaner finish

Why Use Switches Inside Of An Office Or House?

There are several reasons why you should opt for switches inside houses and offices.


Ethernet switches are incredibly reliable indoors as they get the proper cooling they require to function at an optimum level. Offices and houses usually have air conditioning which makes them the ideal place for installing Ethernet switches - and that is because you will never have to worry about any damages to the product. 

As we discussed earlier that Ethernet switches are the quickest when it comes to service, you can add reliability to that list too.

Network Security

There is no better option than switches for providing you inside out protection from external as well as internal threats. There are some well managed and smart switches available that can add a new layer of defense to your network and secure your system as well.

LAN Cables In Key Lock

Managed switches give you the option of deciding the people who are and are not allowed to enter the network. Even the people who have access to the network cannot breach its strong security.


Ethernet visibly improves the performance of a home or office based network. All of the devices connected to a network share a single channel for communication.  Instead of an Ethernet hub, which offers slow speeds, Ethernet switches are faster and can complete a task more quickly and efficiently. 


Moreover if you are looking to expand your network, there is nothing better than to opt for an Ethernet switch. That would be extremely beneficial for you in the long-run. With wireless routers, the quality isn't consistent, and there are various other issues as well that you would not want for your business.

Ethernet is reliable, and you can expand your network without worrying about compromising its quality and speed. As we discussed earlier, the network switch allows the computers in your computer network to communicate with each other. It is a feature that comes in handy for solving problems of an extensive computer network.

Ease Of Use

Be it home networks or office networks the Ethernet provides ease of use to everyone who has access to the computer network.  Not only does Ethernet provide ease of use it even saves energy by powering the unused ports down.

Understanding The Operation Of Ethernet Switches

The fundamental purpose of every network is to move data between the computers. The data travels into the Ethernet frames through the software to fulfill this task. The data field, carried by a frame, transfers the data into the computers.

Data frames are sequences of info that have a defined standard format. The Ethernet frame has a destination address in the beginning and also the address of the device which will receive the info or data.

Ethernet Switches Are Better Than What People Give Them Credit For

Ethernet switches are so prevalent in this day and age that people often forget their real worth. People overlook lower level components that make high and splashy end products work.  Ethernet has dramatically evolved since its introduction and is a frequent part of defense and aerospace platforms.

Synthetic Aperture Radar Application

Various high-end applications like SAR (synthetic aperture radar) have extensive data that requires immediate processing for it to be of any use. It requires a quick exchange of data and rapid switching. Ethernet switches have proven their worth by providing solutions for these high-end applications with the help of its high-end speed.

Evolution Of The Switch

There are varieties of switches available that have different functions and uses. There are low power/ low bandwidth units, tactical switches, managed and unmanaged switches, and the list goes on and on. Ethernet is the most popular local area network (LAN) used in today's world.

According to several market surveys, the sale of all the LAN (local area network) technologies pales in comparison to the sales of the Ethernet switch. The evolution of the computer has also seen the growth of the Ethernet along with it. Following points indicate the switch’s evolution since its introduction;

  • Hardware isn’t as large as it used to be as the boxes have shrunk significantly along with the units, and backplane cards, which are extremely easy to fit
  • There is a visible reduction in the power draw of the Ethernet chips in comparison to the previous ones
  • With the presence of SOC, functions are easier to handle, and a separate CPU is not necessary
  • The transistor’s size is smaller and makes way for even more functions
  • Performance and speed are better, which you can expect

Choosing The Right Ethernet Switch

These are few things you should pay attention on to make sure that you select the perfect Ethernet switch for your networking needs.

Switch Speeds

Fast Ethernet with fix configuration switches has the rate of (10/100 Mbps). Gigabit Ethernet has (10/100/1000 Mbps), 10 Gigabit Ethernet has (10 to 10000 Mbps) of speed, and some even have forty to 100 gigabytes per seconds. There are several downlink and uplink ports on these switches.

Uplink connects the users to the infrastructures of other networks whereas downlinks help in connecting the end users. The most popular speed in the fast Ethernet is the Gigabit; it is lightning quick and gets work done in a matter of seconds. 

As the costs are gradually declining, ten gigabits is slowly gaining popularity as well. The availability of these speeds has made developing high storage servers a straightforward task. 

Difference Between Bytes And Bits

The most common terms for describing internet speeds are bits and bytes. Even though these terms sound similar, they are entirely different from each other and also have a separate unit for their measurement. Bits measure the transfer speeds of the data. It can even refer to how quickly a file downloads on your computer or how quick your internet speed is.

Illustration Of Bytes And Bits

On the other hand, bytes is used to refer the data storage. A hard drive holding ten gigabytes or a CD holding data of 700 megabytes is the most straightforward method of determining bytes. Another difference that makes byte different from it is the fact that each byte consists of 8 bits of data.

Switch Form Factors

There are various form factors in which switches are available. Desktop units are usually present in offices or home networks and are present outside a closet containing the Ethernet's wiring.  There are rack mounted units as well, but they are not as common as the desktop units as people have quick and easy access to desktops.

Frame mounted switches are usually present for displaying different stats, records, and reports. Industrial environments typically use DIN rails or small installation switches which they install on a cable duct. 

Configuration Options

There are two types of ethernet switches and here are their configuration;

Managed Switches

These switches allow communication between different network devices, and it even gives the user authority to control and regulate LAN traffic.

Managed switches display the current performance status of a network through graphics. It helps in understanding and monitoring the computer network with ease.

Continually detects any performance related issues and makes interchanging of data a smooth process.

Managed switches have another version known as the smart switch. This version is lighter and cost-effective and even has some added security and monitoring analysis features.

It efficiently manages the network security and data and displays everything on a graphical interface.

Unmanaged Switches

These switches allow the communication of devices connected to the Local area network (LAN).

Unmanaged switches do not require any intervention by users, neither does it allow it. It is entirely a plug-and-play switch.

Depending on the unmanaged switch's model, some interfaces can monitor the network with little to no user interaction.

Primary Differences Between Managed And Unmanaged Switches

Managed switches control LAN traffic by using configuration changes, whereas it is impossible to change the configuration settings of an unmanaged switch.

Managed And Unmanaged Ethernet Switch

Unmanaged switches are infinitely cheaper than managed switches. But, "Managed" Ethernet switches are a better option overall.

Matching The Industry Specs

The first thing you should do to make sure that your Ethernet switch is in tip-top condition is to match and compare the industry specifications of your Ethernet switch you are purchasing. The best way to compare the specs is to read and analyze the moisture, humidity, vibration, noise immunity, and the temperature.

A lot of the customers expect their switch to last for about ten to fifteen year. To make sure that your Ethernet switches survive, make sure that you pay close attention to the power supply.

Identifying The Role Of The Switch

The choice of the switch you are planning to buy heavily relies on the network running in your house or office. You should have a well-designed infrastructure that has multiple switches. People always make the grave mistake of not updating their hierarchical network infrastructure before installing and connecting devices.

It leads to the low performance of the Ethernet switch which leads to a poor-quality network. There are several switches present when you run a computer network by Ethernet. It is important to install some smaller switches to connect with the more prominent switches to reduce any complications.

Traffic And Connections

As soon as you identify the role of the switch, start counting the number of things you plan to connect to the switch. It is essential because you need to make sure that you choose a switch matching your requirements. Ethernet can easily handle most industrial traffic as the communication takes place in tiny data packets. 


We have discussed in detail about Ethernet switches and its uses. We have also considered its configurations, functions, switch form factors, and switch speed.  This article also compares and explains Ethernet's superiority over the router. 

Man Plugging LAN Cable In Ethernet Switch

We have provided step by step information on how to use a router, explaining its various functions and types. Our buying guide down below will help you choose the Ethernet switch that would best suit your needs.

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