What is Switch in Computer Network

Switch is a Networking Device that connects multiple computers, printers, phones, servers and the other hardware in the network in which they able to share data, information and the resources to each other in the network. To know more about What is Switch in Computer Network keep reading this article till the end.

A network switch is a multiport network bridge that uses hardware addresses to analyze and process and forward the data to the Data link layer (layer-2) of the OSI Model.

Some switches also use and process the data at Network Layer (Layer-3) of the OSI Model by additionally adding routing functionality. Such switches are also known as the MLS (Multi-Layer Switch) or the Layer-3 Switch.

Switch Determines where to send each incoming message frame by analyzing the physical address of the device also known as the MAC Address (Media Access Control).

Switch Maintain its forwarding table that contains the physical addresses of the devices to forward the data frame to the device.

It has multiple ports that start from the 8 ports to 48 switch ports and Operates in full-duplex mode in which they allow to send and receive data simultaneously.
In the case of a switch, packet collision is avoided due to a separate collision domain, it has the port to port data transmission.

Switches are categorized into two types. These are:

  • Unmanaged Switch
  • Managed Switch

Unmanaged Switch

Unmanaged Switches have no configuration interface or other options to configure. They are plug and play switch. They are typically the least expensive switches, found in homes and small businesses. It can be desktop or rack-mounted.

In the unmanaged switch, users need to wait for them to work. Because unmanaged switches require no configuration at all. Therefore, when users need a few ports on their home or in a small business, the unmanaged switch can be used as a simple desktop switch to satisfy their demand.

Managed Switch

Managed Switches have one or more than one method to configure and modify the operations of the switches. Common methods to configure and modify the switch is serial console or the command line interface accessed via telnet or secure shell.

An embedded SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) allows a remote console or management software to configure or modify remotely according to requirements to change in configuration.

Managed switches usually provide the most comprehensive features for the network. Due to their diverse and rich functionality such as CLI, VLAN, IP routing, SNMP, QoS, etc., managed switches are generally used in the core layer in a network, especially in large and complex data centers.

Benefits or Advantages of Switch

  • Switches increase available network bandwidth and reduce the number of broadcast domains.
  • It reduces the workloads on individual computers.
  • Switches increase network performance as it operates at full-duplex and has a separate collision domain.
  • It is an intelligent device as it maintains its forwarding table to forward the data frame but Hub does not maintain its forwarding table.
  • It connects directly to the workstations.
  • Cost to the number of ports of the switch is better than the cost to the number of ports of the router.

Drawbacks or Disadvantages of Switch

  • They are more expensive than the hub and the network bridge.
  • Network connectivity issues are not easy to be traced through the network switch.
  • Broadcast traffic can be troublesome in the case of the switch.
  • If switches are in promiscuous mode, they are vulnerable to security attacks. For Example- Capturing of Ethernet frames and spoofing the IP address.
  • It needs to design and configure in order to handle multicast packets.
  • While limiting broadcasts in the switch, they are not as good as routers.

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