Your local area network (LAN) depends on several networking items to enable interconnectivity. The most crucial one is the switch; it serves as the network’s brain which connects all devices together. It delivers data from one device to another, ensuring smooth data transmission on the network. Because of their widespread usage, they come with different specifications and configurations to meet everyone’s needs. They are sometimes classified according to their ports, materials, or other characteristics. Despite this, they are primarily divided into two types: managed and unmanaged switches. The two most common concerns are: which one better suits your needs, and what does each type have to offer?
If you have basic needs (e.g., wired internet access), an unmanaged switch should suffice. It offers you enough to do basic networking such as loop detection and QoS. On the other hand, managed network switches are more advanced in that they offer better security and monitoring capabilities.
However, before reaching the conclusion, let’s take a deeper look at each type to understand which type would serve us better.
As discussed above, these switches are ideal for basic connectivity. They are easy-to-use play-and-plug options that require no configuration. They are most commonly spotted in home networks or in settings where not many ports are required. There are some unmanaged switches that allow modification. However, it’s not something you should expect from them.
As the name implies, managed switches enable management and modification. They offer better security and scalability, leading to excellent application performance. They serve as great aggregation switching options and work ideally for large networks.
Here are the main criteria that should help you make your decision.
If you have a large network that needs to be monitored, managed switches are what you want. They enable configuration as well as management by allowing you to individually monitor the connected devices. Unlike unmanaged switches, managed switches enable data recovery as well.
Unmanaged switches are simple to operate, but they have a predefined configuration that prevents you from making modifications to your network. As a result, it’s most typically preferred by startups with limited data interchange.
Management and Modification
Unmanaged switches are plug-and-play, which means they are easy to use and require no settings. This is a disadvantage in high-density environments, as they require upgrades and modifications. On the good side, however, they feature traffic prioritizing QoS, which ensures a smooth data flow.
Managed switches offer better monitoring capabilities, such as Simple Network Management Protocol, helping better manage and monitor the devices on the network. The feature also enables assessing the performance of the devices.
Security measures on unmanaged switches include a locked port cover, which ensures basic security and helps prevent any form of direct tampering with the device. Managed network switches, on the other hand, come with more sophisticated features that help detect active threats and shut them down quickly, as well as protect data and control.
Since unmanaged switches provide basic connectivity, they come at lower prices. This suggests that you don’t need to make a big investment on your switching if you have a basic use.
If you’re still on the fence, asking yourself the following questions might help.
How much downtime can you afford?
Even a single minute is costly when it comes to revenue generation. Managed switches are the best option if zero downtime is expected. By offering an additional data stream, built-in redundancy protects against outages. Managed switches can also regulate traffic to ensure that only the most relevant information gets through, prevent traffic from creating faults, and provide each network user individual control over switch port access.
What level of security do you want?
If you have a large amount of confidential material being exchanged over the network, managed switches are your best bet. They enable network segmentation and allow only trustworthy devices and authorized users to access the network.
Do you want to be able to configure your switch as per your needs?
Managed switches allow you to control, configure, and monitor LAN settings, such as traffic and channel prioritization.
Do you want remote access to your network?
Managed switches can give network status updates, alert you to potential problems, and help you troubleshoot and resolve problems. This may even reduce the requirement for on-site employees monitoring 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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