What is the Purpose of a Network Switch?

A network switch is a piece of equipment that enables two or more IT devices, such as computers, to communicate with each other. By connecting multiple IT devices, a communication network is created. Computing, printing, server, file storage, Internet access, and other IT resources can be shared across the network. A network switch links devices on a network to each other, allowing them to exchange data packets. Switches can be either hardware devices that manage physical networks or software-based virtual devices.

Switches are essential components of any network. They connect multiple devices, such as computers, wireless access points, printers, and servers, to the same network within a building or campus. A switch allows connected devices to share information and communicate with one another. Unmanaged network switches are designed to be plugged in and work without any configuration. Unmanaged switches are often used for basic connectivity.

You'll often see them used on home networks or anywhere where a few more ports are needed, such as on your desk, in a lab, or in a conference room. While switches allow different devices on a network to communicate, routers allow different networks to communicate.You may have a vague understanding of the switch's role in networks simply because of its definition. With this greater control, you can better protect your network and improve the quality of service for those accessing the network. A switch plays an essential role in providing Internet connectivity and network communication across a network.

Learn how to make the right decisions to design and maintain your network so you can help your business thrive. Devices connect locally through switches and networks connect to other networks through routers. However, in their most basic form, network switches quickly and efficiently deliver packets from device A to device B, whether they are on the other side of the aisle or on the other side of the world. In a network, a switch is a hardware device that filters and forwards network packets from a network device (switch, router, computer, server, etc.). They are compatible with Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) agents that provide information that can be used to troubleshoot network problems. In a local area network (LAN) using Ethernet, a network switch determines where to send each incoming message frame by looking up the MAC (media access control) address.

It directs data traffic and chooses the best route for information to travel across the network so that it is transmitted as efficiently as possible. A network can also be established by directly connecting computers to each other without a separate layer of network devices. Routers help connect networks within an organization or connect the networks of several branch offices. It is widely used in local area networks (LANs) to send each incoming message frame by querying the address of the physical device, known as the media access control address (MAC address).

Deb Magby
Deb Magby

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