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What is a Network Switch? How Does Network Switch Work?

Today, networks are critical for supporting businesses, providing communication, and delivering entertainment, among other things. Switches are essential components of any network. They connect several devices on the same network within a building or campus, such as PCs, wireless access points, printers, and servers. A switch allows connected devices to transfer data and communicate with one another.

What is Network Switch?

A network switch is a device that functions at Layer 2 of the OSI model's Data Link layer. It receives packets delivered by devices connected to its physical ports and sends them out again, but only through the ports leading to the devices to which the packets are intended. They can also work at the network layer, which is Layer 3, where routing takes place.

Within a building or campus, switches are used to link various devices on the same network. A switch, for example, can link your PCs, printers, and servers together to form a network of shared resources. The switch would act as a controller, allowing the various gadgets to communicate and share information.Switches save you money and boost production by sharing information and allocating resources.

How Does Network Switch Work?

It's easier to understand how a network switch works if you break down the functions one by one

Packets are being received. At the data link level, a network switch operates. IP-enabled devices generate packets, which are subsequently encapsulated within an ethernet frame.

Encapsulation. Encapsulation happens when bits attach to the front and back of the packet in order to convey the information contained in the IP packet via the network.

Identifying Data Processing The header of the frame provides important identifying information, such as the source, source MAC address, and destination MAC address. When the frame arrives at the ethernet switch, it is read and decoded to determine where it should be forwarded across the ports in order to reach its intended destination.

Packets are being sent. When the frame reaches the destination device, it is received and stripped.

After explaining the switch functions, we can summarize how the switch works as follows.

Every device has a MAC Address, which is a hardcoded physical address. If a computer transmits an IP packet to another device, it encapsulates the packetin a frame with the destination MAC address of device B and the source MAC address of the computer, and then sends it out. When the frame arrives at device B, it is stripped and an IP packet is sent, but it must first pass through the ethernet switch/es.

How to Setup a Network Switch?

If you have a large home or a small business, a wireless network may not be enough. When all of your gadgets are linked, speed becomes a concern. To maintain and ensure speed throughout your network, connecting all of your devices over LAN is the preferable approach. "Wonderful," you think, "beautiful and fast gigabit speed throughout." So, what exactly are you talking about? Only 4 LAN ports on your router? What? What am I supposed to do now? Adding a network switch to your system is the easiest and cheapest method. A network switch receives a connection from a single LAN port on your router and distributes it to as many ports as your switch has. So, if you have an 8-port network switch, we will connect a single port from your router to the switch, and then you will connect the rest of the ports to the switch.

Connect an Ethernet cable to your modem or router's outgoing port, which is frequently referred to as a "WAN" port (with a router, any port will suffice). Connect the opposite end of your Ethernet wire to any port on your switch. Connect another Ethernet wire to a different port on your switch. Connect the Ethernet cable's opposite end to your device. You now have access to the internet!

How to Use a Network Switch?

You may be experiencing troubles with your wireless network, such as a lack of coverage, or you may be intending to add more devices. What good would a switch do? Instead of using wi-fi to connect all of your gadgets, you can use a cable to connect some of them.

What would that accomplish? Well, for starters,

First, it would unload part of the traffic from your wireless network.

Second, it would increase the bandwidth available to wired devices.

So what are the steps to adding a switch

  1. Determine how many devices you want to connect. For example, your television, gaming console, computer, or network storage for images and videos.
  2. Select the correct number of ports for the switch. The router would be linked to one of the ports, and the devices would be connected to the other ports. So, if you need to connect five to seven devices, you'll need an eight port switch.
  3. Purchase ethernet cables with the switch for the number of ports you need wired.
  4. Connect one end of the cable to the router and the other to the switch on the other end. Any port will work, but we'll use the first port on the right of the switch to make it easier to remember.
  5. Connect the remaining cables to the switch on one end and each of your devices on the other.
  6. Connect the switch to a power source.
  7. That's it. You are good to go and your wi-fi can now be fully dedicated to wi-fi devices such as smartphones or tablets.

You may use an unmanaged switch for your home because it is basically plug and play and requires no IT knowledge.

If you need a switch for your business, we recommend a smart plus switch, which for a nominal fee adds features like network separation, traffic priority, link aggregation, and port mirroring to make troubleshooting easier.

What are the Features of Network Switch?

There are many more switch features in the industry, but these are the most popular among industry professionals.

  • Switches for storing and forwarding data:

On an incoming port, store and forward switches read and buffer the entire data packet. The switch scans the entire frame for errors and sends it out the appropriate port if it is error-free.

  • Cut-Through Switches (CUT-THROUGH SWITCHES):

When compared to store and forward switches, cut-through switches have a shorter delay. Once the destination address has been determined, they forward the frame directly. Only

  • Mirroring of ports:

In a network, port mirroring is a useful feature for troubleshooting. It copies all inbound and outbound data from one switch port (the mirrored port) to another switch port (the mirror port). Most switches with port mirroring support allow you to pick and configure the mirrored and mirror ports from the switch's web page.

as many bytes of the data packet will be buffered by the switch in order to acquire the destination address.

  • PoE (Power over Ethernet):

The Ethernet wire provides power to devices with this capability.

  • Ethernet Gigabit:

Switches are able to accommodate a transmission rate of 1,000 Mbit (1 Gbit) as well.

  • Auto-Negotiation / Auto-Sensing:

The ability of a device to automatically determine the transmission rate of a signal is referred to as auto-sensing. Furthermore, before the first data transmission, auto-negotiation allows the connected devices to negotiate and agree on a transmission rate.

  • Auto Cross-over

At a port interface, the function automatically crosses transmission and receive lines. A cross-over cable or a switch with port wire for connection crossing is occasionally required if it is deactivated.

  • Support for Redundancy:

Bumpless or non-bumpless transition of failing links to a redundant link is possible with redundancy support.

What are The Types of Switch?

Some of the most prevalent types of network switches are listed below.

  • Unmanaged Switches
  • Managed Switches
  • Smart or Intelligent Switches
  • Enterprise Managed Switches

Unmanaged Switches

Unmanaged switches are often plug-and-play devices that require little more than an Ethernet wire for installation.

To enable communication between Ethernet devices, the setup of this sort of switch relies on auto-negotiation between Ethernet devices.The switch will automatically select the appropriate data rate to utilize, switching between full-duplex (where data is received or transmitted in both directions at the same time) and half-duplex (where data is received or transmitted in only one direction at a time) .

Unmanaged switch

Figure 1. Unmanaged switch

While some unmanaged switches can be accessed remotely, the majority of them will require the administrator to make physical adjustments to the switch when it is first set up. Unmanaged network switches may be the ideal option for you if you want a switch that will execute the essential functions of network efficiency without the need for modification.

Managed Switches

A managed switch is exactly what it sounds like: a switch that requires network administrator supervision.

This type of switch allows you complete control over the traffic entering your network while also allowing you to customize each Ethernet port for the best data transmission efficiency. Administrators can utilize commands like bandwidth rate limitation and port mirroring to tune these devices for optimal data rate as more devices and users are added to the network. Managed switches are also the ideal network switches for supporting the Gigabit Ethernet standard rather than the outdated Fast Ethernet standard.

Managed Switch

Figure 2. Managed Switch

Many administrators use managed switches to establish virtual local area networks (VLANs), which allow you to segregate your network even further and control the traffic burden for each connected device. Another advantage of using a managed switch is that most managed switches are built using the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP).

Smart or Intelligent Switches

Smart switches, also known as smart managed switches, are a hybrid of unmanaged and managed switches that provide certain levels of management, basic quality-of-service (QoS), and limited security capabilities with a limited amount of ACLs (access control lists).

Using Smart Managed Switches for network administration might help you prepare for future development. Smart switches have a variety of performance-enhancing features that range from simple to complicated. Administrators can get more control over data transmissions while improving efficiency by configuring smart switch options. Intelligent switch models will have various limitations when compared to fully managed switches.

Most, for example, do not allow complex capabilities like IP multicasting to be managed. Reliable smart switches, on the other hand, can help you manage:

  • Quality of Service
  • VLANs
  • Link Aggregation
  • Web Management

Enterprise Managed Switches

Layer 2 networking is provided by enterprise Ethernet switches for Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, and Gigabit Ethernet networks. Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) access switches are available for connecting IP phones, wireless access points, and other powered devices. The usage of SFP ports provides the utmost versatility by supporting a wide range of fiber cables and connectors. Fiber-optic backbone or user connections are also significant requirements. Depending on the size of the network and how mission crucial it is to the firm, network managers can select between managed and unmanaged network switches.

Multi-layer network design

Figure 3. Multi-layer network design

Because each layer has its own set of characteristics and functions, the devices in the three layers perform differently.

Core switches are high-capacity backbone switches that serve as the gateway to a wide area network (WAN) or the Internet. They are often located at the network core layer's center.

Aggregation switches are also known as distribution switches because they serve as a bridge and link between the core layer switches and the access layer switches illustrated in the diagram. In networking, it guarantees that packets are routed appropriately between subnets and VLANs.

Access switches, also known as edge switches, are the lowest and most fundamental layer of the three layers in the hierarchical internetworking model. They make it easier for end-node devices like APs and wired devices to connect to the network.

What is The Difference Between Switch and Router?

A router is a computer networking device that connects computer networks, such as a home network to the Internet. Routers are the workhorses of the internetwork, transferring data packets between networks to establish and maintain contact between two nodes. Routers are part of the OSI model's L3 layer; they use the destination IP address in a data packet to figure out where to send the packet.

Both routers and switches are computer networking devices that connect one or more computers to other computers, networked devices, or other networks.

The main goal of a router is to connect many networks at the same time, and it operates at the network layer, whereas the main goal of a switch is to connect multiple devices at the same time, and it works at the data link layer.

Switch and router differ in many ways. Let's show the differences on a table.

Comparison ofSwitchRouter
LayerData Link Layer. Network switches operate at Layer 2 of the OSI model.Network Layer (Layer 3 devices)
FunctionAllow numerous device connections, regulate ports, and manage VLAN security settingsIn a network, it is used to direct data. Data is passed between computers at home and between PCs and the modem.
Data Transmission formFrame (L2 Switch) Frame & Packet (L3 switch)Packet
PortsSwitch is multi port Bridge. 24/48 ports2/4/5/8
Device TypeActive Device (With Software) & Networking deviceNetworking device
Transmission TypeFirst broadcast; then unicast & multicast as needed.At Initial Level Broadcast then Uni-cast & Multicast
TableASICs often access the content accessible memory CAM table, which is used by switches (Application Specific integrated chips).Store IP addresses in the routing table and keep them separate.
Transmission ModeHalf/Full duplexFull duplex
Broadcast DomainSwitch has one broadcast domain [unless VLAN implemented]In Router, every port has its own Broadcast domain.
DefinitionA network switch is a computer networking device that connects multiple devices on a computer network together. A switch is more advanced than a hub since it will transmit messages to any device that requires or requests them.A router is a networking device that connects two or more local networks together. Routers direct traffic and provide other activities necessary to the network's optimal operation at the Distribution Layer.
Speed10/100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, 10Gbps, 40Gbps1-100 Mbps (Wireless); 100 Mbps - 1 Gbps (Wired)
Necessary for Internet Connection?NoNo, but provides additional security and allows for multiple connections.
Address used for data transmissionUses MAC addressUses IP address
ConnectionsCan connect to multiple PCs or networking devices (L3 switches) via Cat5, Cat5eCan connect to multiple PCs or networking devices via Ethernet or WiFi
SecurityPort securityProvides security measures to protect network
Used forConnecting two or more nodes in the same network (L2) or different network (L3)Connecting two or more networks
Bandwidth sharingThere is no sharing port can be 10, 100, 1000 and 10000 Mbps individualBandwidth sharing is Dynamic (Enables either static or dynamic bandwidth sharing for modular cable interfaces. The default percent-value is 0. The percent-value range is 1-96.)
Routing DecisionTake more time for complicated routing decisionsTake faster routing decisions
NAT (Network Address Translation)Switches cannot perform NATRouters can perform NAT
FasterIn a LAN environment, an L3 switch is faster than a router (built-in switching hardware)In a different network environment (MAN/ WAN), a router is faster than an L3 switch.
FeaturesPriority rt range On/Off setting of port VLAN Port mirroringFirewall VPN Dynamic hadling of Bandwidth

What are the Network Switch and HUB Differences?

It's possible that the terms "hub," "switch," and "router" are used interchangeably when they aren't. It's easy to see why people are confused. Aside from sharing a similar appearance, all three devices use ports to transmit data. Furthermore, as these devices become more advanced, the functional distinctions between them become increasingly blurred.

It's easier to understand the differences between hubs, switches, and routers if you consider their basic functions and intelligence levels. After we have mentioned above about switch and router lets focus on now what is hub and what are the differences between Hub & Switch.

A hub is a physical layer networking device that connects many networked devices. They're typically used to connect computers in a local area network (LAN).A hub is a device with a large number of ports. One of these ports is plugged in by a machine that wants to connect to the network. When a data frame arrives at one port, it is broadcast to all other ports, regardless of whether it is intended for a particular destination port.

Comparison ofHubSwitch
LayerPhysical layer. Hubs are classified as Layer 1 devices per the OSI model.Data Link Layer. Network switches operate at Layer 2 of the OSI model.
FunctionTo connect a network of personal computers together, they can be joined through a central hub.Allow connections to multiple devices, manage ports, manage VLAN security settings
Data Transmission formElectrical signal or bitsFrame (L2 Switch) Frame & Packet (L3 switch)
Ports4/12 portsSwitch is multi port Bridge. 24/48 ports
Transmission TypeHubs always perform frame flooding; may be unicast, multicast or broadcastFirst broadcast; then unicast & multicast as needed.
Device TypePassive Device (Without Software)Active Device (With Software) & Networking device
TableA network hub cannot learn or store MAC address.Switches use content accessible memory CAM table which is typically accessed by ASIC (Application Specific integrated chips).
Transmission ModeHalf duplexHalf/Full duplex
Broadcast DomainHub has one Broadcast Domain.Switch has one broadcast domain [unless VLAN implemented]
DefinitionAn electronic device that links multiple network devices so that data can be exchanged between them.A network switch is a computer networking device that connects multiple devices on a computer network together. A switch is more advanced than a hub since it will transmit messages to any device that requires or requests them.
Speed10Mbps10/100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, 10Gbps, 40Gbps
Device Categorynon intelligent deviceIntelligent Device
ManufacturersSun Systems, Oracle and CiscoCisco and D-link Juniper
CollisionsCollisions occur commonly in setups using hubs.No collisions occur in a full-duplex switch.
Spanning-TreeNo Spanning-TreeMany Spanning-tree Possible

What is a Network Switch Suitable for Homes?

A router, switch (or hub), network adapters, and network cables are all required to set up a home networking system. You'll need to know what types of networking devices to look for if you're setting up a wired home network.

Home network

Figure 4. Home network

A switch is the most critical piece of networking hardware for your home network. A switch enables you to link numerous PCs and other network devices (such as printers) together quickly and effortlessly.

A switch is a rather straightforward piece of hardware. For (usually) less than $100, home networking switches come in 4-port, 8-port, and 12-port versions. A network switch is usually labeled as a 10/100 Ethernet or 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet switch. This is the highest network speed per connection that the switch can provide.


Although you should connect your network devices at the quickest speed feasible, it isn't necessary to get the fastest switch, especially if money is an issue. Most household networking demands can be met with a 100-megabit Ethernet switch. Three common brands of home network switches are NetGear (seen below), Linksys (by Cisco), and D-Link.

What does a Home Network Switch Do?

Most people don't need a network switch since home routers normally have three or four Ethernet ports built-in, and because nearly everything on a home network—laptops, phones, game consoles, streaming boxes, and smart-home accessories—uses Wi-Fi anyhow.

A switch, on the other hand, is handy if your router lacks enough Ethernet ports, if you have a lot of connected devices in one location, if you're seeking to increase your speeds or reduce wireless interference by using wires, or if you're adding Ethernet connections in your home's walls.

Now let's talk about what benefits you can provide to your home network by using a switch.

  1. Adds a few more ports

Unmanaged switches are the most popular type of switch, at least in homes and small companies. That means the switch has no settings or special features, and its sole purpose is to expand your network's Ethernet connections.Your router continues to handle your Internet connection, allowing your devices to communicate with one another while also limiting what certain devices may do via parental controls or other settings—the switch is practically undetectable. Managed switches, on the other hand, can perform things like monitor traffic on specific ports or create virtual networks (VLANs) using the same switch.

  1. Adds Ethernet all over your house

No matter how big or complicated your house is, a decent mesh-networking equipment eliminates the need to install Ethernet cabling through your walls, and it's usually cheaper as well. But there's still no alternative for wired Ethernet if you want fast, lag-free connections in every part of your house—whether you play online games, stream 4K video from a local server, or transfer massive files over your network on a daily basis.

  1. Wires to improve your Wi-Fi

By lowering the number of devices competing for wireless bandwidth, a robust wired network will improve your Wi-Fi performance.

What is PoE Network Switch?

Power over Ethernet functionality is built into a PoE(power over ethernet) switch. This means that network cables can be used to power devices.

A PoE switch offers power over Ethernet that can be used to power other devices. PoE pass-through switches can be purchased if your network has distributed switches. These are powered by PoE from a central source and can also provide power to endpoint devices like cameras and phones.

PoE can be used to power a wide range of devices. The quantity of power required, however, can vary.

PoE devices with low power consumption

  • Videophones and Voice over IP (VoIP)
  • IP cameras are cameras that are connected to the internet.
  • Access Points for Wireless Networks
  • Audio Devices
  • Thin Clients and Remote Computer Terminals

PoE devices with a high power output

  • Laptops,
  • TVs, and
  • Computer Monitors

Are all network switches PoE?

Shortly no. Because most standard switches do not support PoE, injectors cannot be used to give power before the switch.

There is, however, a method.

Most PoE switches come with a mix of powered and non-powered ports, allowing them to be used across your whole network.

What Are the Best Network Switches?

Answer of the question on heading is “It depends on your needs”. Are you thinking about investing in your own network switch? Then you'll need to understand more about the important shopping criteria to look for. The aspects that can genuinely make a difference in your ultimate decision will be discussed in the next section. We are convinced that after reading these, you will understand how to select the finest switch for your network.

Which issues should be prioritized in key selection? Here is the list.

  • Personal use
  • Ports
  • Speed
  • Management of data traffic
  1. Personal Use

A household network will not require the same switch as a professional network. If you're looking for a device to go with your router, a model with a few ports will most likely suffice. It also doesn't need to have a lot of setup choices.

  1. Ports

When it comes to ports, you should think about the number as well as the type. Nowadays, network switches range in size from four to hundreds of ports. It's worth noting that the present Ethernet standard supports two forms of wiring: twisted-pair wire and fiber optic cable, with each having its own connector.

The RJ-45 connector is only seen on the more basic network switches, which only have twisted-pair cable ports. Different types of connectors are used on more complex models with fiber optic ports, but the SC type is the most common. They also have modular ports to which a module with a port can be connected.

  1. Speed

Ethernet supports a variety of data transfer speeds. This is why, before purchasing a model, you should test the speeds at which it can work. The 10/100 ports are the most common sorts of ports on the market, as well as the standards and speeds that they can support. These ports support the 10BASE-T standard, which allows for theoretical speeds of up to 10 Mbps, as well as the 100BASE-TX standard, which allows for speeds of up to 100 Mbps.

Furthermore, the 10/100/1000 ports support the 1000BASE-T standard, which provides a theoretical maximum speed of 1000 Mbps. They are the most frequent for home networks nowadays.

The 100BASE-FX and 1000BASE-X standards, among others, are supported by the fiber optic ports.

  1. Management of Data traffic

Both manageable and smart switches include a variety of features for managing and monitoring data flow. VLAN is one of them, as it allows you to create many logical networks within a single physical network. On the other hand, IGMP snooping prevents IP TV traffic from taking the entire network down.

Now you can find the best networks switch fits your need by applying selection criterias

Google search result for network switches

Figure 5. Google search result for network switches