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Difference Between Hub and Switch

Difference Between Hub and Switch

Hub and Switch are two of the most commonly used networking devices. These two terms are often used interchangeably. Therefore,  understanding the difference between Switch and Hub is very important.

Let’s start with what networking devices are? Networking devices are physical devices that allow hardware on a computer network to communicate and interact with one another. For example, Repeater, Bridge, Hub, Switch, NIC, Routers, Gateway, etc. 

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What Is a Hub?

What Is a Hub

A hub is a device that connects multiple computers and devices together, and is also known as a repeater or concentrator. A Hub is operated on the Physical layer of the OSI model. A Hub serves as the centre to local area network (LAN). All the devices connected to the hub are under the same subnet

The Hub receives data packets from connected devices and broadcasts them to all other connected devices, regardless of the intended recipient, creating an efficient system for sharing data between users. 

Let’s say you have a desktop, a laptop, and a smart TV and you want to connect them to the internet. In that case, you can use a Hub, plug the hub into the router and then connect your devices (desktop, laptop and TV)  to the hub. Now, all the devices can access the internet as the hub broadcasts the data to all the connected devices. Another example of a hub is a USB hub used to connect multiple USB devices to your system.

Types of Hub

There are three different types of Hub:

  1. Active Hub: Here are the characteristics of an Active Hub:
  • An active hub has its own power supply.
  • It can be used as an extension for two or more nodes.
  • It can serve as a repeater and a wiring hub at the same time.
  • It may improve, clean up, and relay the signal in addition to the network.
  1. Passive Hub: Here are the characteristics of a Passive Hub:
    • A passive hub cannot be utilized to increase the separation between nodes.
    • The power source for this specific Hub comes from active hubs, while the wiring comes from nodes.
    • It relays the signals without being cleaned or amplified.
  2. Intelligent Hub: Here are the characteristics of an Intelligent Hub.
  • It can perform tasks of both active and passive Hubs.
  • It can be used for some other tasks like bridging and routing
  • An Intelligent Hub can increase the speed and effectiveness of the total network thus making the performance of the whole network fast and efficient.
  • An Intelligent Hub is expensive than the other two types

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What Is a Switch?

What Is a Switch

A switch is a networking device that connects multiple devices on a single computer network. A switch is operated on the Data Link Layer of the OSI model. It is used to establish or terminate a connection on the basis of the need. In layman’s terms you can use a switch to either open or close a connection. When the switch is opened, a signal or power can pass through the connection. The flow is stopped, and the circuit connection is broken when the switch is closed. 

Let’s say in your office there are multiple departments (sales, finance, HR) and you want to connect to the office network so that you can access and share files, and can use network printers across the network securely. You can do this by connecting the switch to the router and then, can connect departments devices to the switch. Switch will manage the data traffic and will direct only to the devices that need it.

Types of Switch

There are four types of switch:

  • Manageable Switch: A manageable switch has a console port and an IP address that can be assigned and configured.
  • Unmanageable Switch: An unmanageable switch cannot be configured as there is no console port. Hence, we will not be able to assign an IP address.
  • LAN Switch: The LAN switch is mostly used to connect devices in an organization’s internal LAN (Local Area Network). This switch is used for allocating bandwidth so that data packets do not overlap in a network.
  • PoE Switch: PoE switch is used in PoE (Power over Ethernet) Gigabit Ethernet. A PoE switch delivers greater flexibility and simplifies the cabling connections.

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Difference Between Hub and Switch

Difference Between Hub and a Switch
Aspects HubSwitch 
Definition Hub is an electronic device that helps us to connect multiple network devices so we can exchange data.The switch is an advanced version of the Hub which sends the message to a device that needs or requests it.
LayerPhysical Layer Data Link Layer 
Speed 10 Mbps 10/100 Mbps, 1 Gbps
Data Transmission Electrical Signal or Bits Frame (L2 Switch), Frame and Packet (L3 Switch) 
Ports 4/12 ports 24/48 ports 
Functionality The functionality of a Hub is to connect various computers to a single network.The functionality of a switch is to connect multiple devices and manage ports and VLAN security settings.
Addresses MAC addresses MAC addresses 
Transmission Type Hubs always perform frame flooding, it may be unicast, multicast, and broadcast.Firstly they broadcast, then unicast and multicast. 
Connectivity LAN LAN
Device TypePassive Device (without software)Active Device (with software), Networking device
Transmission Mode Half duplex Half/ Full duplex 
Broadcast Domain One broadcast domain One broadcast domain (unless VLAN is implemented)
Necessary for Internet Connection?NoNo
Device Category Non Intelligent Device Intelligent Device 
Manufacture Oracle, Cisco, and Sun system D-link and Cisco
Spanning Tree No Spanning tree Many spanning tree 
Collision During the setup collisions occur in hubs In a Duplex switch, no collision occurs.
Usages Rarely used nowadaysWidely used
Repeater FunctionalityIt can function as a repeaterIt cannot function as a repeater
Table It can’t learn and store the MAC addressSpecial memory used in the switch called CAM table, which is managed by specialized hardware chips called ASIC (Application Specific integrated chips)
Hackable Difficult to hack Easy to hack 

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Applications of Hub

Applications of Hub

There are many applications of Network Hub. Here are a few listed below:

  • Hubs are used to create small Home Networks.
  • Hubs are used for monitoring the Networks.
  • Hubs are used in Organizations and Computer Labs for connectivity.
  • It makes one device available throughout the whole network. 

Learn more about the Internet.

Applications of Switch 

Applications of Switch

There are many applications of Network Switch. Here are a few listed below:

  • A switch is a device used in a computer network to physically connect the devices together.
  • A switch can transfer data to any of the other devices at a time using half duplex mode or full duplex mode.
  • A switch can manage the flow of data across the network.

Benefits of Hub

Here are a few benefits of using a network hub:

  • Hub can be used to increase the network range
  • A Hub doesn’t affect the performance of the network.
  • It is a cheaper solution
  • It also enables network monitoring 
  • It can easily connect to different media types.

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Benefits of Switch

Benefits of Switch

Here are a few benefits of using a network switch:

  • The number of broadcast domains gets decreased.
  • Unlike hubs,switches are more hardware oriented.
  • It can make use of a CAM table for port to MAC mapping.
  • Unlike routers, multi ports of switches are available at a lower cost.
  • It helps in logical segmentation by supporting VLAN.

Drawbacks of Hub

Here are a few drawbacks of using a network hub:

  • A Network Hub comes with bandwidth limitations.
  • Range of a Hub is limited.
  • There might be collisions between networks in a hub.
  • It runs on half-duplex.
  • If a central hub fails, it takes down the whole network.

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Drawbacks of Switch

Here are a few drawbacks of using a network switch:

  • Proper designing and configuration is required if multicast packets are being handled.
  • While limiting broadcasts,switches are not as good as routers.
  • Minimizes the number of Broadcast domains

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Conclusion

Hubs and Switches are two different networking devices. Switches provide a wide range of advanced features as compared to a hub. Switches are better in providing faster network support, security, VLANs etc. A hub is much cheaper as compared to a switch. In conclusion, Hub and Switches have their own advantages and disadvantages. Keeping them in mind and what the problem statement is about we make use of either a Hub or Switch. We hope this blog has cleared your doubts about Switches and Hubs.

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About the Author

Technical Lead - AWS Solutions Architect

Shivanshu is a Technical Lead and AWS Solutions Architect passionate about utilizing Cloud technology to empower businesses. Proficient in AWS, Terraform, and GCP, he crafts innovative solutions to propel companies forward. As an enthusiastic writer, he shares his expertise to inspire others in this field.

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