The functions of a router, hub and a switch are quite different from one another, even if at times they are all integrated into a single device. A hub and the switch have similar roles on the network but when used properly, these devices to their fullest potential, can accelerate your networking performance.
Each serves as a central connection for all of your network equipment and handles a data type known as frames. Frames carry your data. When a frame is received, it is amplified and then transmitted on to the port of the destination PC. The big difference between these two devices is in the method in which frames are being delivered.
In a hub, a frame is passed along or “broadcast” to every one of its ports. It doesn’t matter that the frame is only destined for one port. The hub has no way of distinguishing which port a frame should be sent to. Passing it along to every port ensures that it will reach its intended destination. This places a lot of traffic on the network and can lead to poor network response times.
Additionally, a 10/100Mbps hub must share its bandwidth with each and every one of its ports. So when only one PC is broadcasting, it will have access to the maximum available bandwidth. If, however, multiple PCs are broadcasting, then that bandwidth will need to be divided between all of those systems, which will degrade performance.
A switch keeps a record of the MAC addresses of all the devices connected to it. With this information, a switch can identify which system is sitting on which port. So when a frame is received, it knows exactly which port to send it to, which significantly increases network response times. And, unlike a Hub, a 10/100Mbps switch will allocate a full 10/100Mbps to each of its ports. So regardless of the number of PCs transmitting, users will always have access to the maximum amount of bandwidth. It’s for these reasons why a switch is considered to be a much better choice than a hub. If you have six PC’s, and you want to transfer some big files between two of them and still be able to use the other four for other things, a switch will make a big difference in performance.
Routers are completely different creatures. Where a hub or switch is concerned with transmitting frames, a router’s job, as its name implies, is to route packets to other networks until that packet ultimately reaches its destination. One of the key features of a packet is that it not only contains data, but the destination address of where it’s going.
SLS Networks can provide you with a predictable, reliable network performance as it all depends on the correct and consistent configuration of routers. Configuring the routers is one of the most important and complex aspects of running a network.
A router is typically connected to at least two networks, commonly two LANs or WANs or a LAN and its ISP’s network (ex. your pc or workgroup and EarthLink). Routers are located at gateways, the places where two or more networks connect. Using headers and forwarding tables, routers determine the best path for forwarding the packets. Routers use protocols such as ICMP to communicate with each other and configure the best route between any two hosts.
Today, a wide variety of services are integrated into most broadband routers. A router will typically include a 4-to-8 port Ethernet switch (or hub) and a Network Address Translator (NAT). In addition, they usually include a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server, Domain Name Service (DNS) proxy server and a hardware firewall to protect the Local Area Network (LAN) from malicious intrusion from the Internet.
All routers have a Wide Area Network (WAN) Port that connects to a DSL or cable modem for broadband Internet service and the integrated switch allows users to easily create a LAN. This allows all the PCs on the LAN to have access to the Internet and Windows file and printer sharing services.
Some routers have a single WAN port and a single LAN port and are designed to connect an existing LAN hub or switch to a WAN. Ethernet switches and hubs can be connected to a router with multiple PC ports to expand a LAN. Depending on the capabilities (kinds of available ports) of the router and the switches or hubs, the connection between the router and switches/hubs may require either straight-through or crossover (null-modem) cables. Some routers even have USB ports, and more commonly, wireless access points built into them.
Some of the more high-end or business class routers will also incorporate a serial port that can be connected to an external dial-up modem (useful as a backup in the event that the primary broadband connection goes down) and a built in LAN printer server and printer port.
SLS Networks can assist you in choosing the right equipment to match your budget in assisting you with network design engineers. They are certified in all network protocols and can recommend a solution that best fits your business model.
SLS Networks can assist you with building your network to work at its optimal performance. We can configure your switch configuration to make the network more stable and less prone to issues, such as broadcast storms. We can also deploy your routers to make sure you have the most reliable configurations keeping you connected and productive.
Give us a call today and see how we can get your network running at its optimal potential.