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Managed or Unmanaged Switch: Which is right for your network?

Managed vs. Unmanaged Switch

When we design a network, a network switch is necessity. It connects all devices together on a LAN (Local Area Network), redirecting and forwarding data to the correct destination.Switches come in various sizes that allow them to have any number of ports up to 48.

Generally, there are two types of switches : Unmanaged Switches and Managed Switches. In this article, we’re going to define the two types, look at the differences between them, list the advantages or disadvantages of them, and help you decide which is right for your network plan.

Unmanaged Ethernet Switches

They are simple, easy to use, and basic plug-and-play switches without remote configuration, management, or monitoring options, although many can be locally monitored and configured via LED indicators and DIP switches. They come with a fixed configuration that you cannot make any changes to, often used for small networks or to add temporary groups of systems to a larger network. They can be desktop ,rack or din-rail mounted.

Plug and Play Industrial Ethernet Switch

Managed Ethernet Switches

A managed switch, on the other hand, also allows you to manage, configure, and monitor the settings of your LAN, including controls over LAN traffic, prioritizing certain channels, and create new virtual LANs to keep smaller groups of devices segregated and to better manage their traffic. Managed switches provide a lot of value in a network. First, they can let you know the status of the network. If an abnormal condition occurs, a managed switch can send you a message telling you so. This includes things like high bandwidth consumption, unexpected port connection, and even power supply failure. 

Additionally,managed switches also offer redundancy features that duplicate and recovery data in the event of a device or network failure.This can be critical if an Ethernet cable gets cut, unplugged, or plugged into the wrong port, or even if the switch is powered down.Managed switches are intelligent enough to find another path to the destination, or even block communications that should not be occurring on a specific port in order to prevent serious network issues.

Comparison Between Managed Switch vs Unmanaged Switch

  Unmanaged switch  Managed Switch
  Simple  Feature-rich
  Extends existing networks   Built for networks with high traffic / users 
  Allows for more devices to connect   Allows for more devices to connect
  Little customization options  Customizable security 
  Cheap  Expensive 
  No configurable   Configurable
  No Monitorable  Monitorable
  Can not breaks up broadcast domains  Breaks up broadcast domains
  Low security  High Security

How to choose between a managed and unmanaged network switch

The answer to whether a managed vs unmanaged switch is best depends on your specific situation.Unmanaged switches are typically used in small networks.In simple applications where there are a few Ethernet devices and one to three switches TOTAL, unmanaged switches are often the best choice and will be the most economical. At-home networks, individual conference rooms in an office, or small labs may be fine with the unmanaged option. 

If you are running a large enterprise, data center, or an operation that needs high-security network protection, many network engineers and managers would suggest the use of managed switches.Managed switches are also ideal if clients, partners, or other external individuals need to gain access to your network.

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