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Unmanaged Switch vs. Hub: Are They the Same?

Updated on Dec 27, 2021
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Unmanaged switches and hubs are both networking devices that allow you to connect multiple devices to a single network. There are often some confusions between these two. Is an unmanaged switch the same as a hub? What's the difference between them? All answers are here.

Unmanaged Switch vs. Hub: What Are They?

Unmanaged switches are basic plug-and-play switches with no management or monitoring options. Compared with other switch types, the cost of unmanaged switches is much lower. They provide basic switching functionality. They do not need an IP address, and do not feature web page or SNMP management or any other advanced functions.

Hubs are essentially like "extension cables" on the network. All incoming messages are retransmitted from the port to each device. Every device sees all other devices’ messages regardless of the intended destination. Due to message collisions, unnecessary traffic will slow down the network speed and may cause long response times.

unmanaged-switch-vs-hub

Unmanaged Switch vs. Hub: How They Differ?

Since we know that unmanaged switches and hubs are not the same thing, then, what is the difference between them? Now I will illustrate the differences between them from the following five points.

Network Layer

A Hub works on the physical layer (layer 1) of the OSI model, so, it cannot process layer-2 or layer-3 traffic and it cannot process information based on MAC or IP addresses.

The Unmanaged switch is a data link layer device (layer 2). It records the MAC addresses of the computers connected to it in a tabular format. When the data packet arrives, it reads the destination address and sends it to the appropriate system rather than sending it to all connected devices.

So, in a word, unmanaged switches are more intelligent than hubs, because unmanaged switches operate at layer 2 in the OSI model where the hub is purely layer 1.

layer-1-vs-layer-2

Ports

Unmanaged switches usually have more ports than hubs and have a larger capacity to accommodate these ports. Different switches have different numbers of ports ranging from 4 to as many as 128 ports. On average, a switch is between 24 and 48 ports for wired connections. Hubs are smaller and featureless ports. A hub can have between 2 to 12 ports of different types from Ethernet to DSL connections.

Connection

Networking hubs are currently available with USB, Ethernet, Firewire, and Wireless connections. Unmanaged switches are also available for networks in USB, Ethernet, Firewire, and Wireless. Mainstream unmanaged Ethernet network switches support either 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps, or 10/100 Mbps Ethernet standards.

Transmission Mode

The hub uses a half-duplex mode to exchange data, it can only send or receive signals. The unmanaged switch uses a half/full-duplex mode, that means it can send and receive signals at the same time.

Application

Unmanaged switches can transfer data to any of the other devices. They are widely used in SOHO and SMBs. SOHO mostly uses a single unmanaged switch to access the various broadband services and devices. You can even build a small wireless home network with an unmanaged PoE switch because it can provide power to your PoE devices, such as TVs and laptops.

Hubs are mostly used in organizations for connectivity, they are mostly used for creating small networks or for network monitoring. All ports of the hub share one broadband, which may cause some poor network response time and collisions on the network. Thus, if you just want to use it on a small network where there are only a few users or devices and request no security or network speed, a hub is an option.

Conclusion

In summary, unmanaged switches and hubs are definitely not the same thing. Nowadays, hubs are relatively no longer popular. They are not even used in family networks anymore. Unmanaged switches are more efficient and intelligent than hubs. Therefore, from the perspective of efficiency and popularity, unmanaged switches are better than hubs.

Related Articles: What's the Difference? Hub vs Switch vs Router

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