Connecting with Network Switches
When you have several devices that require a network connection, a network switch turns one Ethernet port into several to accommodate all your equipment. Switches typically connect to network routers and have a varying number of RJ-45 ports. These offer a direct, wired network connection to devices such as printers, wireless access points, and desktop computers.
Different Switch Models for Larger and Smaller Networks
Ethernet switches come in different sizes and models to meet the needs of networks of all sizes, whether you have a small home network or a large enterprise to keep connected. Another feature to consider is the speed these switches and their ports can handle. Some transmit data at rates of 10, 100, or 1,000 megabytes per second, while Gigabit Ethernet ports support faster speeds. Some models even have Gigabit expansion slots to increase your capacity further. There are also network patch panels to manage large numbers of connections. These feature numbered ports to make visual tracking of connections easier.
Setting Up and Managing a Switch
Some switches don't have to be managed, meaning they're plug-and-play and supply an automatic connection to each port. Managed switches offer the convenience of a remote interface that you access via the internet or the Cloud. This interface helps you view the statistics and status of the switch, such as the number of devices connected and which ports are currently in use. You also can reboot the switch remotely. Smaller switches can fit on a desk, and larger ones are usually rack-mountable.
Switches with Power Over Ethernet (PoE)
Some manufacturers provide Power over Ethernet. It supplies both a network connection and electrical power to certain devices, such as wireless access points, eliminating the need for external power supplies. Some switches have specific ports dedicated to PoE as well as non-powered ports. Avoid connecting devices linked to network cards and adapters to PoE ports. Make sure devices you connect to these ports are compatible with PoE.