What is a Network Switch?

A network switch is a device that manages and connects computers, devices and networks together in your home network. It is normally used most often to expand a network, so you can add more home network devices with a network switch. 

If you are interested in expanding network by using a network switch it can be done without much work and it's not expensive. I've seen 4 port network switches costing as little as $12.99 with free shipping on a number of Internet shopping sites. There are also 8 ports, 16 ports or 32s ports switch available in the market but the price goes up quite a lot. So stick with a 4 port switch if thats all you need for your home network expansion project.

The Ethernet data transmission speeds Mbs (megabits per second) that can be supported by the switch are 10Mbps, 100Mbps or 1000Mbps. 100Mbps switch will be sufficient to support your home network setup.


How do I use a network switch?

Like I mention before, a network switch is used to expand you network. For instance: You have a router with 4 ethernet ports and one Internet port. You have cable connected 2 laptops, 1 desktop and 1 printer to the router plus connected your Internet cable up to it as well.  You now only have 1 port left but you might want to wire connect up another printer and laptop. You can do this by connecting a 4 port network switch to the last port on the router with a RJ45 crossover cable and expand your network by three additional ethernet wired ports. Those 3 additional wired ethernet ports are now available and usable on your network switch. You have just expanded your home network with a network switch.


What do I need?

  • a network router 
  • a network switch 
  • a crossover cable or straight cable (if using a smart switch) 

A routers ethernet port is connected to the network switch uplink port by using a crossover RJ45 ethernet cable. Sometimes if it's a smart switch, which a lot of them are these days, you can you a straight RJ45 ethernet cable because the smart switch will do the crossover function for you.

Connect your additional network devices: laptops, computers and printers to your additional 3 new ethernet ports on your new network switch. You can use just straight RJ45 cable to connect your additions to the network. 


What you don't need 

Before there were smart network switches, everywhere you looked there were dumb network hubs or network repeaters. If someone trys to talk you into using a network hub look the other way and start walking away. A network hub has very little intelligence and will only slow your network speeds down.  They cause bottle necks in network traffic. Network hubs are a waste of time and money. So my advise is not to use them.