For most homes that share internet connection and storage using a home network, a managed network switch will be an overkill. However, these days, many of us are using our home networks for streaming of videos to our HDTVs, for VoIP telephone lines. Some of us are even entrusting our home security footage to our home network storage. In such situations, an unmanaged switch may not be sufficient.
Why Are Managed Network Switches On The Rise in Home Offices?
Regardless of why, managed switches have found their way from large corporations, to smaller ones, and finally to home offices and homes. The prices of managed switches, even managed gigabit switches are falling recently and the number of features and their user friendliness is increasing, so it makes sense even for a home office to consider replacing a regular switch with a manged one. Why? To improve quality of video streams, including security footage video streams, and to improve your VoIP quality. In a business that uses VoIP telephone lines, that should be reason enough! In this article, we will give a quick overview of the three types of a managed network switch that you can choose from: Unmanaged, Smart/Managed, and Managed network switch. We will refute some of the myths and market-speak in the process. This should make it easier for you to determine what kind of a switch is best for your home or home office and whether you should s-w-i-t-c-h now. Pun intended.
Unmanaged network switches
Unmanaged switches are the type where you plug the switch into the wall outlet, attach all the network cables, and the switch “just works.” They might work for you as well, but, stay alert. If you notice lower quality of your VoIP telephone connection with the clients, or even dropped calls, maybe it is time to upgrade to a managed version.
“Smart switches” were invented by marketing departments of large computer and networking manufacturers when it was obvious that the prices were coming down and the features were increasing. One of the important features was management of a switch over a web interface, resulting in a term network managed switch. The switches were marketed as switches that can smartly manage most of the features on their own, while giving you web access to some other features. For the most part this meant that, using the web interface, you just could not control as many features of a network switch as with a regular, older, command-line interface. So we can classify smart or web managed switches somewhere in between the unmanaged and fully managed. When you are shopping for smart network switches, you are shopping for a compromise between the price and the features, so keep that in mind.
Fully managed network switches
These are the switches which allow you maximal control of the traffic through your network. They usually include a powerful CLI, command line interface, and often times also include the web interface. These are the top of the line managed switches, and also the most expensive ones.