If you are new to the concepts of routers, wireless connectivity, and Wi-Fi, likely, you don’t know what a network switch is. This is what involves the networking hardware and ensures optimal connectivity of the devices. The network switch is what transpires as the brain of the network and ensures the optimal transfer of information through the connected network of devices. They are the ones responsible for streamlining the optimal transfer of data across LAN devices.
Since switches are gaining rampant popularity across the batch of users, it isn’t surprising that brands are now coming out with improved configurations of the same to meet the raging demands of the users.
The difference between managed switch and an unmanaged switch has been around for quite some time now, in the design of the device and even the kind of ports that are integrated into the device.
This article will discuss everything there is to know about managed and unmanaged network switches and how you can handle them with ease.
What is a Switch?
Before we delve into the differences or the configuration of the managed vs unmanaged switch, we must discuss what a Switch is.
By definition, a network switch is responsible for communicating data packets between the connected devices. It can either be two devices or multiple, depending on the user’s needs. It is a form of networking hardware that uses packet-switching elements to receive and then forward the same data to the destination device.
With that, remember that there are two different types of network switches available in the market – there is the Unmanaged Switch and the Managed Switch.
What are the Differences Between Managed Switches Vs Unmanaged Switches?
If you are just starting with the online networking connectivity, routers, and the whole shazam, knowing about the managed and unmanaged switches separately is important.
Ideally, if we had to differentiate them from the precipice, we’d say that the unmanaged switch is the more “ready to use” plug-and-play kind of network switch. On the other hand, the managed switch, as the name suggests is the more organized option that provides the user with more control over the prospects they are handling.
That said; let us walk you through the list of differences between the managed and unmanaged switches:
1. Managed Switch vs Unmanaged Switch: Features
It goes without saying that when you are looking into any switch or connectivity network options, knowing their differences based on the features is the most important. The unmanaged switch is a simple kind of network switch which uses Ethernet connectivity with a fixed configuration for the connections. They are primarily used for the connectivity of small networks and for a temporary period.
The managed switch, on the other hand, is designed to offer more control. It allows you to regulate, configure and even monitor the various LAN settings that are involved in the equation. The managed switch allows you to individually monitor each connected device, making it one of the most popular forms of a secure network switch.
2. Managed Switch vs Unmanaged Switch: Performance
Besides the features, these connectivity hardware settings also stand out in terms of performance. If you are a complete novice to wireless connectivity, routers, and networks and don’t have an idea of how to handle these, we’d recommend using the unmanaged switch, mainly because they are plug and play kind of design. You don’t need to manually set things up and everything about the QoS is pre-programmed, which makes the process a lot easier to handle.
However, contrary to that, you have the managed switch, which requires a lot of configurations. You need to check through individual channels, set up and prioritize the channels that you want to work with, and then prioritize them accordingly. For the best performance, you consistently need to control the SNMP functions, know about troubleshooting features and so much more.
3. Managed Switch vs Unmanaged Switch: Security
Leaving aside the features and performance, the next factor that is definitely worth comparing the two is security. We can’t stress this enough but if you are particularly looking for more secure network connectivity, especially when it comes to dealing with a lot of data and personal credentials, we’d recommend looking into a managed switch over an unmanaged switch.
Unmanaged switches have a very basic line of security that is good enough for beginners or light internet users. If you don’t deal with a lot of vulnerable information or data, we’d recommend sticking to just an unmanaged switch. However, if you do deal with vulnerable data, it is a no-brainer that you need a managed switch setup without question.
The security features for managed switches vary depending on the needs of the device, configuration and so much more. They can keep unauthorized users out of everyone’s business and even create limited access to your device so none of your data is under threat. The managed switch also allows the users to have optimal control over monitoring who accesses their network, which is always a benefit too.
4. Managed Switch vs Unmanaged Switch: Application
Another factor that distinguishes the unmanaged switch from the managed switch is its application. Depending on the number of devices, the intensity of the work, and the kind of data transmission involved, unmanaged switches are considered ideal for smaller networks, for example, small businesses.
However, if you are dealing with a lot of devices and heavy-duty data transmission that needs an uninterrupted user experience, we’d recommend that you switch to managed switch because it offers more control to the users. The managed switch allows the users to have better control over the traffic.
Related| Wireless Repeater vs. Wireless Bridge
5. Managed Switch Vs Unmanaged Switch: Price
The last point of comparison between the unmanaged and managed switches is the pricing. Given that unmanaged switches come with such fewer constrictions and lack security features for the network, it is a no-brainer that those are comparably a lot cheaper than the managed switches. The unmanaged switches can range as low as $50-$100.
On the contrary, managed switches offer a lot of control, distinguished and exclusive features, optimal security functions and so much more. So, it isn’t even a question at this point that they are going to cost you quite a lot. They are also ideal for larger networks, which is another reason why they have a higher price point. The price can range between $1500 to $2800 per port, which is QUITE a lot.
Managed Switch vs Unmanaged Switch
|COMPONENT||MANAGED SWITCH||UNMANAGED SWITCH|
|Configuration||Open to configuration||No configuration|
|Technical skills||Requires skilled IT staff to set up and maintain||Plug and Play|
|Capabilities||Spanning tree protocol support, QoS, bandwidth rate limiting, and port mirroring||Maintains MAC address tablets|
|Pricing||More expensive||Less expensive|
How do I Choose Between a Managed Switch and an Unmanaged Network Switch?
Now that you have a fair understanding of managed and unmanaged network switches, choosing the purchase or connectivity shouldn’t be as difficult as many make it out to be. Keep in mind that there’s no GOOD or BAD when it comes to a network switch. You just need to find the option that works best for you and your network needs.
Besides that, the following are some pointers you can choose the ideal switch for you.
1. Focus on the Scalability
The first and likely the most important pointer that you need to worry about is scalability. If you are going to use the switch for your business, you need to assess what kind of scalability it will involve. Ideally, it can be for small businesses or it can be for larger businesses and corporates. In the latter situation, you might need to opt for a managed switch. However, for the former, the unmanaged switch can get the work done in an affordable price range.
2. Focus on the Performance
It doesn’t matter which kind of use or network you are getting the switch for, there’s no way you can compromise on the performance or speed of the network speed. If you are a small business or a start-up that doesn’t want to indulge in a lot of upfront investments, we’d recommend looking into unmanaged switch because it is cheaper and provides equally faster speed and connectivity.
3. Focus on Security
If your primary focus is on optimal security, there’s nothing better than managed switch. They are bound with a lot of encryptions, manage the traffic that comes in and also keep your data secure in the devices you are using. So, depending on the degree of security, you need to pick the switch that works best for your needs. However, just because the managed switch has BETTER security doesn’t mean that the unmanaged switch doesn’t have any. It is all about striking the right balance.
These are some of the basic features that you need to look out for when it comes to the scalability and choice of network switch for your devices. Always sit down, assess your requirements and then make the first move in choosing the right option.
What is a Better Managed or an Unmanaged Switch?
This is a subjective question whose answer will rely on the requirements of the users. If you want something easy to manage and set up with lower costs and less security, an unmanaged switch is the best. If you want more control, better security, and an outlook, managed switch is the best one.
If this is your first time choosing between unmanaged and managed switches, we hope this article gives you all the insights that you are looking for. Make sure that you always prioritize your decision based on your requirements only.