7 Steps to Choose a Network Switch

Recently a “technical support” guy asked me how to choose a switch that suit their network? Well, this is a common yet good question. How am I going to answer his question without knowing his company network infrastructure? How is he going to choose when he himself also don’t know the network structure?

Anyway, I just give some simple steps on how to choose a LAN switch. Don’t talk about brand, just steps in general. Of course, reliable brand is also a factor such as Cisco, 3com, etc.

7 Steps to Choose Network Switch

Do not buy or order any network switch before go through these 7 deciding factors.

1. Number of Ports

Count the number of network devices that need physical connection to the switch. Such as network printer, computer, IP camera, etc. Mid level switch normally has 24 ports. Stacked more than one switch if you need more ports.

2. Network Speed

Are you required high speed network? Normal switch still use 100Mbps port, where higher end switch support 1Gbps. It depends on your cable and device NIC too. Gigabit Ethernet LAN switch is important for applications that use video, voice or complex digital images.

Some enterprise-class switches support 10 Gigabit ports for larger networks and high speed demanding applications such as such as video broadcasting, digital imaging, real-time financial transactions, etc.

3. Switch Management

There are unmanaged Switch and managed switch. Unmanaged Switch is preconfigured with basic settings. It is cheap and easy to setup. Managed Switch provide more control on network security, performance and segment traffic. Most Managed Switch are available in web based, no installation needed.

4. Power over Ethernet

Power over Ethernet or PoE is able to supply electrical power through the LAN cable to the attached devices. Hence save your power extension cost. PoE switch is useful for devices such as wireless access points (WAP), IP security cameras and IP phones.

5. Switch Type

Choose the right switch type to suit your need. There are Desktop Switch and Rack-Mount Switch. Desktop Switch is smaller, lighter, most suitable for small conference room or small office. Rack-mount Switch need to mount in rack.

6. Business Requirement

This is one of the most important factor. Understand your business requirement before decide which network switch model to buy. Ask the questions: my business need wired or wireless network? Is it simple to integrate into the business? How reliable , how about warranty and service?

7. Budget

I think this is the most important factor! No money no switch, right? Get your budget first before decide which switch. Of course, the more advance switch cost higher.

My two cents

These are the ways to choose a suitable network switch for your corporate or company. If you are choosing one for your home network, it is simpler. I will highly recommend wireless router. It should serve more than you need.

Which network switch model are you using in work and home? Please tell me which one you think the best one?