Should I Buy an Ethernet Switch or a Hub?

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Since a switch performs the same job as a hub that they are both able to transmit data from one computer to another, an Ethernet switch is sometimes called a hub. Furthermore, some people even use these two terms interchangeably to refer to one box because of their similarity in appearance. However, there is a great difference between a true hub and a network switch. In order to help you differentiate them and buy what you really need, we will introduce the respective basics and applications of Ethernet switch and hub.

The Basics of an Ethernet Switch

An Ethernet switch is commonly referred to as a multi-port network bridge that processes and routes data on a data link layer (layer 2) and sometimes network layer (layer 3) of the OSI model. An Ethernet switch is an intelligent device which transmits data to specific MAC addresses within the LAN. It has the capability to learn and distinguish between specific addresses by accessing them from a CAM table. And it can do everything a hub does with higher efficiency and recognize the intended destination of the information that they receive.

ethernet switch

The Basics of a Hub

A hub works on the physical layer or layer 1 of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model. It is a device that connects multiple Ethernet devices on one network and makes them work together as a single network. A hub does not examine the data it receives or sends, so when a packet arrives at one port, it is just copied to the other ports so that all segments of the LAN can see all packets.

hub

Ethernet Switch vs Hub: Which One Should I Buy

Hub was initially popular due to the high price of Ethernet switch, while switch is not so expensive these days. Hubs are gradually becoming obsolete in some occasions. But they are still useful in special circumstances. Below are the application comparisons between Ethernet switch vs hub.

  • For small-sized families, a hub is the easiest and least expensive way to construct a network of personal computers together; when it refers to Gigabit switch, an 8 port Gigabit switch is a structured wiring solution designed to satisfy this need.
  • People tend to benefit a lot from an Ethernet switch over a hub if their home network has four or more computers, or if they want to use their home network for applications that can generate significant amounts of network traffic, such as multiplayer games or heavy music file sharing. By generating less network traffic in delivering messages, an Ethernet switch performs better than a hub on busy networks.
  • In a small network where there are lesser users or devices, a hub can easily deal with the network traffic and is also a cheaper option for connecting devices to a network. While when the network becomes larger with about 50 users, it is better to use Ethernet switch to cut down those unnecessary traffic.
  • If the performance-monitoring tool shows the situations of network bottleneck or congested network, the hub may need to be replaced with Ethernet switch for increased performance. This is vitally important when working with both hubs and switches in a production environment.

Conclusion

Ethernet switch and hub are frequently used in the same network. A hub extends the network by providing more ports and an Ethernet switch divides the network into smaller, less congested divisions. You can choose to buy Ethernet switch or hub according to your different demands.

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