Managed vs Unmanaged Switch

Many business owners often ask us, what’s the difference between a managed vs unmanaged switch? For this reason, we decided to dedicate this article to help shed some light on subject. When you’re setting up a business network, knowing the difference between the types of switches in networking can make all the difference in your network speed and configuration. First let us say, network switches perform an important role in a network. And, without them building business networks would not be possible.

That’s because they connect multiple devices, like computers, wireless access points, printers, and servers; on the same network enabling them share information and talk to each other. Put simply, a network switch is a device that connects multiple devices together. There are two classifications of network switches: managed and unmanaged. The first and most common type of network switch (ethernet switch) is the unmanaged switch (more on unmanaged switches below).

Unmanaged Switch

An unmanaged switch operates at layer 2 (data-link layer) of the OSI model, using MAC addresses to forward data packets to the intended client device. The intent of this type of network switch is ease of use in that you simply plug-and-play there nothing to setup and there is no need for any further configuration. But, this also means, less control over your network. Typically this type of network switch is for basic connectivity. So, if you are building a home network and only need a few more ports, chances are an unmanaged switch is all you need. However, when it comes to a business, a managed switch is always the way to go (more on managed switches below).

Managed Switch

For businesses, adding a managed switch will allow you to configure your network in a faster and more convenient way. Or put simply, it gives you control over the traffic accessing your network. This means, you can tweak devices for optimal data rate as new devices and users are added to the network through commands such as bandwidth rate limiting and port mirroring. This type of switch gives you greater security, more features and flexibility because you can configure them to fit your needs. 

And, it is with this greater control that you can better protect your network while also improving the quality of service for anyone who has access to it. Aside from this, a managed switch allows you to access the switch remotely if you need to make adjustments without having to be in the same physical location as the switch. In a nutshell, a managed switch gives you the freedom to create a network that runs at peak efficiency customized to the specifications of the unique devices on it.

Managed vs Unmanaged Switch: Okay So What’s The Difference?

Managed vs Unmanaged Switch
Pakedge MS Series Layer 3 Managed Network Switch

This is a managed switch.

The Main Difference Between Managed & Unmanaged Switches

The main difference is that a managed switch allows LAN traffic to be controlled and prioritized through configuration changes whereas an unmanaged switch comes with a standard configuration that cannot be changed.

ConfigurationOpen to configurationNo configuration
Technical SkillsRequires skills to set up and maintain (Shultz AV)Plug and play
SNMP SupportYesNo
VLAN SupportYesNo
CapabilitiesSpanning Tree Protocol support, QoS, bandwidth rate limiting and port mirroring.Maintains MAC address tables
PricingMore expensive (more control)Less expensive (zero control)

San Diego Business Network Installation

No matter what size your business is, you’re already paying your internet provider for a fast connection. So, it only makes sense to have hardware that can deliver it, and the right team to install and configure it! We are a team of highly trained system designers and network installers, qualified to help build the network infrastructure your business needs to be successful. Let us help you get the most out of your business network. We are happy to come out free of charge to assess your current capabilities. Whether you need an upgrade or a whole new network, our team is dedicated to helping your business run as smoothly as possible. For the best business network installation services in San Diego, call (760) 505-7461 to get started or click on the button below to fill out a contact form.