Learn how switches form a key networking building block that connect your devices to each other.
Switches are key building blocks for any network. They connect multiple devices, such as computers, wireless access points, printers, and servers; on the same network within a building or campus. A switch enables connected devices to share information and talk to each other.
An unmanaged network switch is designed so that you can simply plug them in and they work, no configuration required. Unmanaged switches are typically for basic connectivity. You'll often see them used in home networks or wherever a few more ports are needed, such as at your desk, in a lab, or in a conference room.
Managed switches give you greater security and more features and flexibility because you can configure them to custom-fit your network. With this greater control, you can better protect your network and improve the quality of service for those who access the network.
A network hub is a central connection point for devices in a local area network, or LAN. But there's a limit to the amount of bandwidth users can share on a hub-based network. The more devices are added to the network hub, the longer it takes data to reach its destination. A switch avoids these and other limitations of network hubs.
A large network may include multiple switches, which connect different groups of computer systems together. These switches are typically connected to a router that allows connected devices to access the Internet.
While switches allow different devices on a network to communicate, routers allow different networks to communicate.
A router is a networking device that routes data packets between computer networks. A router can connect networked computers to the Internet, so multiple users can share a connection. Routers help connect networks within an organization or connect the networks of multiple branch locations. And a router works as a dispatcher. It directs data traffic, choosing the best route for information to travel across the network, so that it's transmitted as efficiently as possible.
You may find that you need to increase the number of ports that can plug into your router, so you can setup a network switch to connect with your router. Your network switch connects to the router through one of the ports on the router, extending the number of devices in your small office network, such as desktop computers, printers, laptops, etc. that have a wired connection to the internet.
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