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What's The Difference Between A Hub And A Switch?

Published on 29 October 13
The difference between a hub and a switch might be basic knowledge when it comes to networking professionals and IT fanatics, but it’s something that a lot of consumers aren’t familiar with. It’s a shame, really. Though the operational processes might be complex, the concept itself is surprisingly simple to understand. Perhaps IT novices and staunch technophobes should try a little harder to get to grips with the basics.

The difference between a hub and a switch is simple. A hub is a much older piece of software than a switch. It does the same thing, but it’s often much slower and a lot less efficient. Nevertheless, it’s also much cheaper. Hubs are used by consumers and small businesses who can’t afford to buy a better networking alternative. For more information on where to purchase hubs and switches, visit Comms Express.

Anybody with a home, office or business network has already made a choice between hubs and switches - they’re necessary for the linking of multiple computer systems. If you have more than one computer at home and they’re all linked to the internet, you must have a hub or a switch. Ethernet hubs have been rendered almost obsolete by the falling price of network switches, says the eBay guide to networking equipment. Yet, there are still a few occasions when a hub is a better choice than a switch.

Hubs are very simple and uncomplicated devices. They are used to achieve the same goal as switches, but they do it in a much more direct and basic manner. Unlike switches, hubs don’t analyse information - they broadcast it to every device on a network, says IT expert Leo Notenboom. For example, a postman has a letter to deliver to a certain house on a certain street. He knows that the intended recipient must be on that street, but the letter doesn’t have a door number written on its front. Like a network hub, the postman must knock on every door before he can find the right house.

In contrast, a network switch is like a postman who has the full address at hand. He has to deliver the same letter, but this time it has a door number on its front. Obviously, this postman is able to deliver the letter much faster - he only has to visit the one house. A switch can analyse data and come to a conclusion about where a particular piece of information should be delivered. It is much faster and a lot more efficient than its older counterpart.

If you’re still struggling to understand the difference between the two - think of a conversation shared between two neighbors. They live on opposite sides of a street and they want to exchange Sunday roast recipes without leaving the house. A hub can be compared to those two neighbours shouting at each other from the upper windows of their respective houses. It might work, but it’s not very efficient, say the experts at A switch is the equivalent of a regular common or garden telephone call - a much faster, much more efficient solution.

The difference between the two largely comes down to speed. If you want a network that runs in a swift and well organized manner, you should probably opt for a switch. Business networks should certainly use switches over hubs - the increased efficiency can save a company significant amounts of money.

Author Bio: Arthur Reynolds has been a network consultant for eleven years. He recommends Comms Express for reliable, top quality computer networking solutions. Arthur can usually be found teaching small companies how to maximise their network potential.
This blog is listed under Networks & IT Infrastructure and Hardware Community

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