Collected here are all the network switches we list.  For our purposes, this means any device that connects two or more computers or other networked devices and distributes data traffic between them via packet switching, on a LAN (Local Area Network) for example. An example would be a PC, file server and networked printer.

This is disctinct from a hub, in which there is no control over the data traffic. (For electro-mechanical switches please see our Chassis & Plastics and Power sections).  The switch functions to route packets of data sent by one device to the secondary device, for which the packet was intended, only.

A switch may be referred to as either Unmanaged or Managed.  An unmanaged switch is “dumb” in the sense that they have have no configuration options.  Networked devices are simply connected up and the switch works more or less on a plug-and-play basis.  Small businesses and home users often favour this simplicity because they do not require any additional functionality.  On the other hand, a managed switch will come with a range of configurable options.

This include such functions as i) the ability to filter access to the network based on MAC address and other criteria, ii) control of bandwidth usage, iii) the ability to block ports or enable them, iv) the facility to monitor traffic and the quality of the network service, v) troubleshooting network issues and lots more.  Enterprise level managed switches have an even greater, extended range of control and function, as you would expect.

A switch may be standalone, rackmount or sit within a blade chassis.

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