The purchase of a networking switch can be a frustrating one, given all of the options that are available. However, it does not need to be complicated if you arm yourself with a little knowledge and remember to take into consideration all of what you want out of your device. Just remember to plan for the future and not just buy for your network as it stands today. Devices are replaced and new ones are added all of the time, which could require extra performance or capacity.
Considerations like speed, port count, size and reliability are all important aspects that must be taken into account. A budget should be constructed for any added expense that a new switch might compel. This could be as simple as extra network patch cables or something pricier, such as adding structured cabling to your house, allowing you to move your connected device away from the general area of the switch. If you find that the added expense of bringing structured cabling into your home is too much, wireless is always a great option, though its disadvantages must also be weighed carefully.
Wireless technology is now a part of our daily lives. However, a wired network connection will most likely give you greater overall satisfaction since it circumvents the pitfalls of wireless, one of the greatest being environmental factors. Wired tends to be more reliable and is subject to less interference from what is around the structured cabling. Most consumers will likely find it within their budget (and needs) to acquire at least an eight-port Gigabit unmanaged switch to let them attach devices like PCs, network storage and consoles, structured cable locations permitting, allowing them to centralize their connections.
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Eric Bliss is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware.