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Switch in Computer Network

Last Updated on April 12, 2023 by Prepbytes

Switches are designed to connect multiple devices on a network, allowing them to exchange data and information with one another. The basic function of a switch is to receive incoming data packets and direct them to their intended destination. When a packet arrives at a switch, the switch examines the packet header to determine the destination address. It then forwards the packet to the appropriate port that connects to the destination device.

What is Switch in Computer Network?

A switch is a networking device that is used to connect devices together within a computer network. It is an essential component of any local area network (LAN), as it enables devices to communicate with each other and share resources such as files, printers, and internet access

It operates on the OSI model’s layer 2 or data link layer. They connect devices in a network and use packet switching to send, receive, or forward data packets or data frames across the network.

A switch in computer network has many ports into which computers can be plugged. When a data frame arrives at any port of a network switch, it examines the destination address, performs the necessary checks, and sends the frame to the corresponding device (s). It supports unicast, multicast, and broadcast communications.

Working of Switch in Computer Network

When the source wants to send a data packet to the destination, the packet first enters the switch, where it is read by the switch, and the MAC address of the destination is found to identify the device before being sent out through the appropriate ports that lead to the destination devices.

The switch creates a temporary connection between the source and destination for communication and then disconnects the connection once the conversation is finished. Furthermore, it provides full bandwidth to network traffic going to and from a device at the same time, reducing collision.

Types of Switch in Computer Network

  • Unmanaged Switch:
    Unmanaged switches are the most basic type of switches that require no configuration. They are typically used in small networks where simple connectivity is required. These switches have a fixed set of features and do not offer advanced functionality such as Quality of Service (QoS) or VLANs. They are plug-and-play devices that simply connect network devices together.

  • Managed Switch:
    Managed switches offer advanced features and configuration options such as VLANs, QoS, and port mirroring. They allow network administrators to configure, manage, and monitor network settings, making them ideal for larger networks that require more granular control. Managed switches can be further classified into two types: smart switches and fully managed switches.

  • LAN Switch:
    A LAN switch connects devices on a company’s internal LAN. Ethernet switches and data switches are other names for them. These switches are particularly useful for reducing network congestion or bottlenecks. They distribute bandwidth so that data packets in a network do not overlap.

  • PoE Switch:
    Power over Ethernet (PoE) switches are used in PoE Gigabit Ethernets. Thanks to PoE technology, which combines data and power transmission over the same connection, devices connected to it can receive energy and data over the same line.

Advantages of Switch in Computer Network

Here we have the Advantages of switch in computer network:

  • Increased Network Performance: Switches help increase network performance by reducing network congestion and improving data transfer rates. This is because they use packet switching, which allows data to be transmitted directly to its intended destination.
  • Improved Security: Switches enhance network security by allowing administrators to create VLANs (virtual LANs) to segment the network and control access to sensitive data. This helps prevent unauthorized access and protects against security threats such as data breaches.
  • Easy Network Management: Switches offer a centralized point of control for network management, allowing administrators to configure and monitor network settings from a single location. This reduces the need for manual configuration on individual devices and saves time.
  • Scalability: Switches can easily be added or removed from a network, making them scalable and adaptable to changing network requirements. This makes it easy to expand the network as the organization grows.

Disadvantages of Switch in Computer Network

Here we have the disadvantages of switch in computer network:

  • Cost: Switches can be more expensive than other networking devices such as hubs or repeaters. This can be a disadvantage for smaller organizations or those on a tight budget.
  • Complexity: Managed switches can be complex and require specialized knowledge to configure and manage. This can be a disadvantage for organizations without experienced network administrators.
  • Single Point of Failure: A switch can be a single point of failure in a network. If a switch fails, it can cause the entire network to go down, resulting in downtime and lost productivity.
  • Limited Compatibility: Switches may not be compatible with all network devices, particularly older or non-standard devices. This can limit the flexibility of the network and require additional equipment to be purchased.

Switches are an essential component of modern computer networks, enabling efficient communication between devices. They offer numerous benefits, including increased network speed, reduced network congestion, enhanced security, and greater scalability.

However, switches can also be costly, complex to configure and pose a single point of failure. By understanding the different types of switches available and their advantages and disadvantages, network administrators can make informed decisions about the best switch for their organization’s needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here we have FAQs on switch in computer network

Q1. What is the difference between a switch and a router?
Ans. Switches and routers are both network devices, but they serve different functions. Switches connect devices within a network, while routers connect networks together. Switches operate at the data link layer (layer 2) of the OSI model, while routers operate at the network layer (layer 3).

Q2. How does a network switch work?
Ans. A network switch forwards data between connected devices using the destination MAC address in each packet. When a packet arrives at a switch, the switch looks up the destination MAC address in its MAC address table and forwards the packet to the appropriate port. If the switch does not have the destination MAC address in its table, it floods the packet to all ports except the one it came from.

Q3. What is a VLAN?
Ans. A VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network) is a logical grouping of network devices that are connected to the same switch or group of switches. VLANs can be used to segment a network into smaller, more manageable groups, and to provide better security and performance. Devices in different VLANs cannot communicate with each other without the use of a router.

Q4. What is link aggregation?
Ans. Link aggregation (also known as port trunking) is a technique used to increase the bandwidth and reliability of a network connection by combining multiple physical connections between two switches or between a switch and a server. Link aggregation can be used to provide increased bandwidth between devices or to provide redundancy in case one connection fails.

Q5. What is QoS?
Ans. QoS (Quality of Service) is a set of techniques used to prioritize network traffic based on its importance. QoS can be used to ensure that certain types of traffic, such as VoIP (Voice over IP) or video conferencing, are given higher priority than other types of traffic, such as file downloads or web browsing. QoS can help improve the performance and reliability of a network.

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