Hub vs. switch. What should you use for your network?

You want to create a network for the computers in the office, but you don’t know what to choose – a hub or a switch. Hub vs. switch, they both look similar (a box with Ethernet ports) and have the same purpose, to connect multiple computers in a network, but they are far from equal. Here we will explain you the difference and help you make the right choice for your office.

hub vs. switch

Hub

A hub, as the name suggests, is a connection point for varies computers. It creates a network based on Ethernet. There are variations based on USB and Firewire too.

This device does not manage the traffic intelligently. It broadcast the data to all of the connected computers.  Because of the way it works, more bandwidth is used and occasionally packet collisions occur.

Switch

The switch is a smart network device. In contrast to the hub, it reviews the packets of data and directs them just to the right one. It does that by remembering the MAC addresses of the connected gadgets. The switch can support different common network types like 802.11, Ethernet, Fibre and more. It is newer in comparison with the hub, and it more common in the modern offices.

Hub vs. switch

Now, let’s get more concrete. With this table of comparison, you will know why people prefer the switch.

Hub Switch
Purpose To connect multiple computers in a personal network To manage a network between multiple devices smartly
Layer (OSI model) Layer 1, the physical layer Layer 2 usually, but some more sophisticated switches can perform additional features and use Layer 3, 4 or 7 too.
Transmission type Frame flooding, unicast, multicast or broadcast First broadcast, then unicast and/or milticast depends on the need
Transmission mode Half duplex Half and full duplex
Ports Usually between 4 and 24 Usually between 4 and 48
MAC addresses Can´t remember any Remember MAC addresses and saves them in a Content Addressable Memories (CAM)
Device type Not an intelligent device Intelligent device
Speed 10 Mbps 10/100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, 10 Gbps
Software Does not use software Has software for administration

Conclusion

And now, the final answer of  “Hub vs. switch”.

Depends a lot on your budget. If you are searching for the cheapest option out there, or maybe you have an old big hub lying somewhere you could still use it. It can be a solution for a small network of computers that are not connected to the Internet.

In any other case, chose a switch. It is smarter, more secure and it can manage a larger group of connected devices.

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