What is a Network Switch?

April 12, 2019 by
What is a Network Switch?
Lighthouse IT Solutions, Matthew Almendinger

How does a internet traffic get from the Web to a computer or vise versa? Nearly all computers find their way into a Switch with rare exceptions of being routed directly through a Modem. The Network Switch goes by many names and you may have heard of a few; you can find them as a Switch, Hub and even your home Router is often a Switch combined with a Router. Switches are necessary for a network to function and expand properly, without it you will be unable to go beyond the number of Ports on the back of your router for your wired devices. What the Switch is capable of is very simple in nature, however, it is as vital as your router itself. It will take all your wired traffic, and expand your possible connected devices considerably, often with as many as 24 to 48 extra devices. The scalability and reliability of a Switch makes it an invaluable tool in a technology based environment, giving you the possibility to set a local Work-group in your place of business or home, which would allow all connected devices to have access to the same files and drives. The capability of large file transfer over a network connected devices could save hours or even days of transfer time and cut it down to minutes. Switches are often fairly easy to manage depending on the type that is being used, but can quickly get difficult to manage the more you add to your network. Methods called Trunking and Routing Traffic are often employed to make the Switches function as they need, otherwise, they could collide with data on networks and cause large slowdowns or even failures.

The typical topography of a network would often involve your internet coming into your business, and connecting to a Network Router into your location, which will then hook up to your main Switch. This is known as your Backbone. From there, it is wired and sent out to more switches around your business, known as your Edge Switches, and will directly connect to your devices, such as your computers or printers. When information needs to travel out of the network, it follows all the way back up to your Network Router, which then pushes it out into the Internet.

There are many different types of switches with varying purposes:

  • Your Backbone acts as a brain of your network, working hand in hand with your Router.
  • Your Edge Switches are often Rack Mounted and out of the way of your typical work environment to avoid any type of accidents or conflict. These Switches will direct wire out to your computers, and if needed, will plug into another type of Switch that is commonly seen.
  • This is the Desk Switch, which is used to quickly add scalability to your Network and connect multiple near by computers to your network if there was an unexpected increase in needs.

The price range of a Switch ranges depending on the type and quality gotten, often in the hundreds to thousands for a powerful Backbone or Edge Switch, or as cheap as fifty dollars for a Desk Switch.

And this is just the beginning...

There is a plethora of other essentials for a network to run smoothly and hassle-free.

So much that we wrote an ebook on building a network!

Read It Here

Active directory, server roles, updates & patches, endpoint protection, backups & disaster recovery, and even documentation and reporting are covered in the book!