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Monday, October 01, 2012

Ethernet hubs and Switches Explained

10Mbps Ethernet Hub
An 10Mbps Ethernet hub is a small box into witch Ethernet cables are plugged.  Using an Ethernet hub allows two or more computers to talk to each other at 10Mbps.  A 10 Mbps hub is hard to come by these days because faster, more versatile 10/100 hubs are so inexpensive.
If an Ethernet hub is not marked 10/100, it is a basic 10Mbps hub.

10/100 Ethernet Hub
A 10/100 mbps is a good choice these days for basic home networks.  This kind of hub will allow you to hook up 10Mbps and 100Mbps devices and network cards on the same network.  Furthermore, even if the devices communicate at different speeds, the hub will allow them to talk.  Now that the prices have come down to under $50.00, the versatility and speed of these hubs can not be beat.
10/100 Ethernet Hubs are only half duplex - each client can only send OR receive data at a particular time.  To take full advantage of your 10/100 Ethernet cards, look into an Ethernet Switch.  A switch can operate at full duplex allowing your computers to send and receive at the same time.
10/100 Ethernet Switch
A 10/100 Ethernet switch can be considered a faster version of a 10/100 Ethernet hub.  Recently switches have come down so far is price that they are readily accessible to consumers.   
Ethernet switches allow your Ethernet cards to operate in Full Duplex mode instead of Half Duplex.  Full Duplex means that you can be sending and receiving data at the same time. Switches also route traffic directly between ports instead of broadcasting trfaffic across all ports.  This basicly means that each port on a switch gets dedicated bandwidth instead of shared bandwidth.  When transfering large files betwen multiple computers, this can make a big difference in how well your lan operates.
Consumer level switches now run only about 20% more than hubs making them a great deal for the speed.  Switches are also being incorporated into many of the popular DSL / Cable modem routers being manufactured.  I would not be surprised to see some network gear manufacturers stop producing consumer level hubs in the next year or so.
Manages hubs are usuialy not for the home.  They have special networking computers built into them that do all sorts of things you will probably never need in your home or small office environment.  They are also very expensive.
Unmanaged hubs and switches are simple devices that let your Ethernet devices talk to each other.