What is the difference between a network hub and a switch?

Networking hubs and switches explained for beginners

What is a network hub?
A networking hub is a device that allows you to connect multiple computers to a single network device. A network hub is passive, and 'dumb' - think of a network hub as a 'power strip' for a network. It simply multiplies one networking port. Any data coming into our out of a network hub is 'blasted' through all ports and to all computers. Because all data is transmitted through all ports, if more than one PC is transmitting or receiving data at the same time, the data may 'bump' into each other, causing a slowdown.

What is a network switch?
A networking switch is like smart network hub. Depending on the type of networking switch, it can segregate data and send only the data intended for a particular PC to that PC. Because the other computers plugged into a network switch don't see data intended for other computers on the network, there is less congestion, resulting in less slowdowns and higher throughput. Many network switches can also manage each port (plug) measuring the amount of data traffic, limiting traffic to specific ports and sending alerts for specified conditions.

Should I buy a hub or a switch for my home network

Only a few years ago the price of a network switch prevented most home users from purchasing one. Today however, many switches are as inexpensive as many networking hubs! All else being equal, a switch is the better choice, even if you don't make use of any of the advanced features. However, for most small home networks you probably would never notice a difference in network speed between using a hub or a switch. The bottom line? For a small home network (less than 10 computers) get whichever is least expensive. For a larger or more complex network, stick with a network switch instead of a hub.



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