Unmanaged Switch Basics & FAQs

Updated on Dec 23, 2021 by

Network switches come in three main types: unmanaged, managed, and smart managed. This article focuses on unmanaged switches, covering their definition, functionality, usage, and benefits, along with common questions.

What Is Unmanaged Switch?

An unmanaged switch is a basic plug-and-play network device designed for simple connectivity without the need for remote configuration, management, or monitoring. These switches are typically used in small networks or to quickly add temporary workgroups to larger networks. They support desktop, wall-mounted, and rack-mounted installation options, making them versatile for use in various environments such as homes, offices, and small data centers.

Once connected, unmanaged switches immediately start forwarding traffic, with some models providing local monitoring through LED indicators. They rely on auto-negotiated ports to establish data rates and duplex modes. Unlike managed switches, unmanaged switches do not support advanced features such as virtual LANs (VLANs), port security, or traffic prioritization, which means all connected devices share the same broadcast domain. Unmanaged switches offer a cost-effective and straightforward solution for basic network connectivity needs.

How Does an Unmanaged Switch Work?

An unmanaged switch operates as a data link layer device, forwarding data packets based on MAC addresses. It maintains an internal address table that records MAC addresses and corresponding ports. When a packet enters the switch, it reads the header, determines the destination MAC address, and sends the packet out through the appropriate port.

These switches have multiple ports for connecting devices like computers or printers via Ethernet cables. They forward traffic solely based on the destination MAC address without examining the frame's contents. Unmanaged switches are designed for simple, cost-effective connectivity without advanced management features or configurations.

What Is an Unmanaged Switch Used For?

Unmanaged switches are primarily used to connect edge devices on network spurs or in small stand-alone networks with a few components. They are ideal for businesses aiming to reduce network maintenance costs on a limited budget. Additionally, they are well-suited for home environments, small office/home office (SOHO) setups, and small businesses. These switches can also integrate temporary workgroups into larger networks.

Unmanaged switches are also useful for setting up Dante networks for long-distance audio transmission. However, avoid switches with Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) technology to prevent synchronization issues and dropouts. For added value, the Power over Ethernet (PoE) functionality enhances their value proposition. It can automatically supply power with those IEEE 802.3af/at compliant Powered Devices (PD) such as AP, IP Cameras or IP Phones, etc. This feature simplifies wiring and boosts network layout flexibility, particularly beneficial for office networks without power line layout restrictions.

FS S1900 series unmanaged PoE+ swtiches, including S1900-8TP, S1900-16TP and S1900-5TP are compliant with IEEE 802.3af/at PoE standards. Their plug-and-play design allows for easy deployment without a technician. Simply plug in an Ethernet cable, and your wired network is ready without any time-consuming operations. These switches meet the networking needs of small and medium-sized enterprises and office networks.

S1900-8TP for Home and Office

Figure1: S1900-8TP for Home and Office

Why Choose Unmanaged Switches?

Unmanaged switches are the preferred choice for small businesses or home networks. They provide the necessary network connectivity without unnecessary complexities, making them an ideal solution for those with basic networking requirements.

Benefits of Using Unmanaged Switches:

  • Plug-and-Play Design: Unmanaged switch features a plug-and-play design, eliminating the need for configuration. This convenience makes it easy to set up and use.

  • Cost-Effectiveness: It is significantly cheaper than managed switches and smart managed switches, making them an affordable option for families and small businesses with limited budgets.

  • Easy Deployment and Maintenance: Unmanaged switches are straightforward to deploy and maintain, saving both time and effort. Additionally, their simplicity can help minimize potential repair costs.

FAQs About Unmanaged Switch

1. Can I Run VLANs on an Unmanaged Switch?

Actually, unmanaged switches have no concept of virtual LANs (VLANs). Thus, all devices belong to the same broadcast domain. If all of the things plugged into an unmanaged switch are on the same VLAN then you can do that. However, if you have a mix of VLANs on a switch, it needs to be managed.

2. Is an Unmanaged Switch Safe?

Unmanaged switches have basic security features such as a lockable port cover that ensures basic security and helps avoid any type of direct tampering on the device. That can satisfy your home or SMB network security requirements. But of course, a managed switch is safer because of its manageable features, that's why managed switches are more expensive.

3. Does an Unmanaged Switch Have a MAC Address?

An unmanaged switch typically doesn’t have any MAC addresses since it’s just a simple device that builds a MAC address table and forwards frames. Learn more details in Switch Mac Address: What’s It and How Does it Work?

4. Can You Use Link Aggregation on an Unmanaged Switch?

No, unmanaged switches do not support link aggregation. They don't have the ability to configure the ports to be part of an aggregated link. Only managed switches support link aggregation.

5. What Layer Is an Unmanaged Switch?

Unmanaged Switch is the L2 switch. L2 switches can be divided into managed and unmanaged. L2 is a data link layer that works with frames. The switches of this layer identify and transmit data through MAC addresses.

6. How to Connect an Unmanaged Network Switch in a Network?

The primary purpose of an unmanaged switch is to expand the number of Ethernet ports, allowing more devices to access the network simultaneously. To set up, connect an uplink device (such as a router or another switch) to any port on the unmanaged switch, then connect end-client devices (like computers) to the remaining ports.

If you have any questions about FS unmanaged switches, you can always Contact Us for assistance.

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