Don’t you hate it when you exhaust all the Ethernet ports on your router? Or when you have to string bundles of Ethernet cables for all your devices across the living room.
An ideal way to extend your wired network at home is to buy a network switch. A switch functions as a hub. Plug your devices into it and then connect the switch to your router. Your devices will access your home network as if they were connected to the router directly. Sounds easy, right?
Also, with a data switch, your Ethernet connections will be more reliable and much faster because of the higher bandwidth it provides.
Picking the best switch for your needs can be quite tricky considering there are tons of switches available in the market. But if you’re hunting for the ideal switch there are a few concepts you need to keep in mind:
1. Fast Ethernet vs. Gigabit
In terms of speeds, Gigabit Ethernet is your ideal go-to choice. Your router will most probably come with gigabit Ethernet ports. You get ten times the download and upload speed of fast Ethernet.
You can still stream 4K video to your TV with fast Ethernet. And if your ISP plan gives you 50Mbps downloads, you will barely notice a difference in download speeds if you use a device connected via Fast Ethernet rather than gigabit Ethernet. But if you are on a faster fiber network, you won’t miss noticing the difference.
If you do tons of file copying between servers on your home network, you will need the maximum smooth sailing speeds of Gigabit Ethernet instead of slow Fast Ethernet speeds.
You want all your components to be at or above the speeds you intend to use; otherwise, a home network switch could create limitations. A gigabit Ethernet switch is a sound investment if you want to upgrade your connection in the future.
2. The number of ports
You will need first to figure out the number of ports you need your switch to have. Switches offer between 4 and 54 port models. The number of ports you need boils down to the number of devices/users your network supports. The more extensive the network, the higher the number of ports you’ll need.
If you only need to connect a handful of devices, a five-port switch is an excellent choice. It allows you up to 4 wired devices and one connection to your router. Unless you need a primary hub for your entire house’s connection, you probably don’t need a 16 port switch or a 24 port switch.
If you want to connect up a gaming console or two, tv and a set-top box, you don’t need a pricey switch with more ports than you’ll ever use. You can get away with an eight-port switch for most of your needs, and it’s within budget.
3. Level of technical support
Is the configuration process for your switch seamless? Is there a local support team in your country in case you run into any technical issues? While shopping for the ideal switch ensure you have specialized options in place.
Lack of technical support when you need it can be quite a deal breaker. Projects allow you a small window of time to troubleshoot your devices. If troubleshooting/configuring a device exceeds the time limit, you will need to contact alternative technical support. However, outsourced support centers are not a guaranteed solution owing to language barriers and different time zones.
Keep in mind the level of support available and plan accordingly to save you the hassle and refine uptime.
Managed switches are the most expensive type of home network switches costing between $110 to over $1000, but they offer superior features. Unmanaged switches are inexpensive and ideal for most house connections. They cost around $30 or less, support Gigabit speeds and come with up to eight ports.
5. Type of switch to buy
There are three types of POE switches to consider depending on your needs: managed POE switch, unmanaged POE switch, and smart POE switch. We recommend managed switches as it’s the best poe switch. Even though they are expensive, they give you more excellent control over your network devices. However, an unmanaged switch will get you covered for your home or small business.
6. Unmanaged POE Switch
The unmanaged POE switch is like a dumb networking box you plug things in. It requires no inputs and no updates to do its tasks. The switches can’t be modified, so no need to enable or disable interfaces.
It does not offer any security features, so if you are handling sensitive information; we recommend you opt for something more secure.
Unmanaged POE switch is ideal for shops, small business offices, and home networks. They are affordable, and the configuration is simple.
7. Managed POE switch
The Managed POE Switch is ideal for data centers and enterprise networks. Managed switches provide a high level of control, network security, and management. They are suitable for remote access control and round the clock monitoring.
Managed switches are expensive but are worth the investment. With these switches, you can scale your networks, prioritize user traffic, and optimize a network’s resource utilization and speed.
8. The Smart or Hybrid POE Switch
The smart POE switch is ideal for smaller networks and business applications such as VoIP. It offers security features, no-frills management, and costs less than managed POE switch.
It has limited capabilities compared to a managed switch, but the interface is more than simplified. It is an excellent option for VLANs and VoIP devices. You can configure ports and set up virtual networks, but it lacks troubleshooting, monitoring, and remote accessing options.
To sum it up
Wired networks are the best solution if you want performance and stability. Wireless networks are prone to interference, which can be quite a deal breaker when you want to watch your favorite tv show on Netflix.
To keep those annoying wires out of sight or if you want to connect more wires than the ports on your cable, opt for a switch. A good home network switch will expand your router and give your network greater flexibility.