Ethernet Switches Review
Why Get an Ethernet Switch?
Ethernet switches have become a popular tool for high-speed internet users who want to make their networks more versatile and more equipped to handle a growing number of users. An Ethernet switch essentially acts as a hub that connects certain networks segments and devices together while having the intelligence to send data where it needs to go.
Before shopping for an Ethernet switch, it is important to understand some of the terminology behind these devices. Most switches measure their speeds in terms of packet delivery speed. A packet is a unit of data that is routed between its origin destination and somewhere else over the internet. There are both managed and unmanaged switches. Managed switches can be programmed, while you cannot make any changes to unmanaged switches.
Switches also come outfitted with a different number of Ethernet ports. The number of ports needed depends on your intentions with the switch. Larger switches, known as modular switches, can be created for use in large corporate settings. However, the more common type of switch, known as a form factor switch, has up to 48 ports and is typically used in smaller networks or the home. Most switches have five, eight, 10, 24 or 48 ports.
Ethernet Switches: What to Look For
The right Ethernet switch can have a major impact on your networking speeds. One of the first things that you need to look for when searching for a new Ethernet switch is the number of ports. Before you buy a new switch, think about how many networks will be using your device.
Ethernet switches can help improve your internet speeds. Different switches come with different speed capabilities. Fast Ethernet switches can handle speeds of 10 megabits per second (Mbps) or even as high as 100 Mbps. However, in order for you to truly notice a change in speed, it is important to look for Gigabit Ethernet switches. These can handle up to 1,000 Mbps, while some specialty switches can even handle 2,000 Mbps.
Switches with this capacity can quickly deliver data packets where they need to go and improve the network’s speed and functioning.
Store-and-Forward Mode Capabilities
The way in which a switch forwards packets is important. The most versatile and most common method of forwarding is known as the store-and-forward. This means the switch can check for errors, filter packets and forward them on with only a minimal amount of delay. This switch mode also allows you to convert LAN speeds. Look for these capabilities with any switch if you value speed, minimal errors and versatility with your switch.
The alternative to this is a cut-through switch, which only examines the first few bits of a frame. The speed can be compromised, and these types of switches do not have the same error-checking capabilities as a store-and-forward switch.
As with anything related to the internet, fast speeds are important. The higher the switching speed of a device, the more packets that can be uploaded or downloaded at a time. The switching speed is determined by how much time it takes to process ingoing and outgoing packets, typically in terms of millions of packets per seconds. Fast backplane speed, on the other hand, indicates how many data packets can be transferred between modules within the same switch. With this in mind, make sure to consider backplane speed in terms of your network’s highest expected workload.
Ultimately as the consumer, you want to shop for an Ethernet switch that works for your individual network’s demands. However, overall speed, forwarding capabilities and hot swapping are some of the most important features to look for when finding your ideal Ethernet switch.