What can I do if all the ports on my switch are full and I need more ports?

I have a 16 port fast switch and all 16 ports are connected with one thing or another. I need more open ports to connect to. I don't want to trash the one I have and just buy a 24 port switch (if there is such a thing). So, do I connect these things in series or is this where a bridge and another switch enter into the picture? I obviously don't want to create network interference or clutter no matter what I do. Thanks in advance.
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you *can* chain most switches easy enough. if the switch has an 'uplink' port, just connect the uplink port to any port on the other switch using a standard ethernet cable.

if there is no uplink port, then use a 'crossover' ethernet cable (get one from just about any computer supplier) and connect any port on one switch to any port on the other.

but be aware of the bandwidth implications of chaining switches this way:  you will only get the maximum switch port bandwidth between the two switch segments (eg 100MBps) so consider you have 10 computers on 1 switch all trying to send data to another 10 computers on the other switch.  On a single switch segment, all the traffic cam be transmitted ok because the switch backplane can usually handle all traffic on all ports simultaneously.  but when they are chained between two switches, only a maximum of 100Meg can be transferred on that link, and therefore each computer in the above example will transfer data at 1 tenth of the speed.

generally you will not notice much of a difference, but when there is large data being regularly moved about (eg graphic applications, video/audio and other multimedia applications) then you may run into some trouble.

if it is a potential problem to you, then i suggest that you consider upgrading to a new switch, maybe considering devices that also support switch chaining on the backplane, or by combining multiple ports.

If you want to reduce costs and you are only going to be adding on a few devices, you may want to consider just using a hub.  Plug the hub into the switch in the same fashion meverest described above.  You should put devices with the least amount of traffic on the hub.
3com makes some really nice 24 and 48 port switches that connect together using standard CAT 5, for a resonable price.  If you look at the stackable SuperStacks, you can get one for around $300 bucks, its managed and you can add on to it later.  Very nice stuff, I just put about 10 into network earlier this year and I love them.
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>> you may want to consider just using a hub

yah!  that may work, but it sends a shudder up my spine to even consider using a hub for anything these days!  ;-)

when switching components are soooo cheap these days, there is very few good reason to use anything else...

dwielgoszAuthor Commented:
I already have 5, 16-port hubs that are plugged into the 16-port switch that I refer to above. One of the hubs supports pretty much just office apps while the others support a mix of office and 2-D and 3-D CAD apps. Does this clarification effect your recomendations? I do have some spare switches and hubs lying around unused as well.

if i understand you correctly, there isn't any way that I can keep in operation the existing 16-port switch that I have in use now, while adding more switched ports, without losing bandwith on the additional ports? In other words, if I want more switched ports without bandwith loss, then I must replace the 16-port with a larger switch?

Joshua234: the 10 that you put in to a network are all stacked then?

I have seen the advertised "stackable" from 3COM, so then these are actually wired (architecturally) differently from the basic fast switch in order to accomodate the ability to stack??
No, the most you can stack is 4 I believe.  But once they are stacked they are viewed as one, have one IP address etc.  I do not know about the different wiring but what I can tell you is that I was in a similar situation to yours.
Our infrastructure was a mixture of old hubs and unmanaged 10/100 switches.  When they were in use we had horrible badnwidth loss.  At some points I was only able to transfer data at a rate of 1 mbps.  Once I replace my switch infrastructure I went to the neighborhood of 15-25 mbps.  Hope that helps!

dwielgoszAuthor Commented:
All of our switches and hubs are "unmanaged". As far as I know, none of them have IP addys. Does that come into play with the managed aspect of the switch? The web based GUI needs an IP?
Yes, you would only get an IP address for a managed switch.  Then you could use that to access a web based GUI.
What kind of 16 port switch are you using now?  Does it support multi-link trunking or port sharing?  Some switches (managed) allow you to combine 2 ports into 1.  If your's supports this, you can setup 2 switches as your "backbone" and then plug the rest of your hubs and or devices into it.  Try to segment it so the computers that talk to one another most are on the same "backbone" switch.

Obviously, if you can afford the expense, you can use some upgrading.  (I know we can use some upgrading but we don't have the $$$).  If you can't afford it, the cheapest route is adding another hub somewhere.
dwielgoszAuthor Commented:
It's a Netgear FS516 with "auto-uplink" fast switching auto 10/100. I also have a 3COM, "Baseline 10/100 SuperStacker 3" with 24 ports that is sitting on a shelf unused. I had the 3COM online for a while but was having some problems with slow connections throughout the network that suddenly disappeared when I moved all of the connections over to the Netgear. All of the hubs are Netgear also, all DS516s.

The Baseline Superstacker, I believe, is NOT a managed switch. It's their cheap version of their managed switches...I think!

What, if anything, do switches plug into if you have multiple switches?
You cannot do the port-sharing thingy on the Superstack 3 that you have:
if link doesn't work, it's Solution ID:

What do you mean by:
> What, if anything, do switches plug into if you have multiple switches?

dwielgoszAuthor Commented:
Well, going "upstream" do switches just stack endlessly or do they eventually plug into something that channels all the data upward? Or do they just have the T1, or whatever, plug into one of many that are run in series or stacked?
Well technically the T1 won't plug directly into a switch.  But whatever ethernet cable your Internet based traffic will pass through can go in any port of your switches.  Generally, you'll need to decide which one works best for you, but in your case, I would put it in your master switch so all the client machines plugged into the hubs can get to them equally.  But say you only had a small group of users that will need internet access and they are all on one hub, you can just put your internet connection there.
>> I already have 5, 16-port hubs that are plugged into the 16-port switch that I refer to above. One of the hubs supports
>> pretty much just office apps while the others support a mix of office and 2-D and 3-D CAD apps. Does this clarification
>> effect your recomendations? I do have some spare switches and hubs lying around unused as well.

well then... if you are already hooking 4 hubs into a 16 port switch, then you will not degrade performance of the existing network much by adding yet another cascaded hub or switch into the picture.

but i would be suggesting that you start considering an upgrade, because you will sureley start noticing latency on the network in general - slow transfer of files.  long delays opening/saving data to network drives. long login delays, etc..

regarding stackable switches - yes,  they do have alternate connection mechanisms that hook the backplaned together directly.  this usually gives switching speeds of a few gigabits between ports, allowing the many (sometimes all) switch ports full throughput simultaneously.

dwielgoszAuthor Commented:
Great, i need clarification on what you refer to as "Backplaned" I don't understand that term.
A single switch has each of the ports communicating over it's "backplane".  This is highbandwidth circuitry within the switch (faster than 100Mb/s).  If you were to connect two switches to one another using an ethernet cable, you would be restricted to 100Mb communication between any of the ports on one switch to any of the ports on the other switch.  When you can take 2 switches and connect their backplanes (usually with a proprietary cable), you get much faster throughput between the ports on the different switches.  The switches work as if they are actually a single switch.

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dwielgoszAuthor Commented:
OK. Is that what MEverest was referring to in the very first answer to this question when he said that by chaining two switches using a CAT5 cable limits you to the shared 100 that the ports is capable of, but when you use a proprietary connection device you don't have the limitations that come with using a port and CAT5?
I'm not sure what you are asking, but Meverest does mention the technology of the backplane.
dwielgoszAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all the info on switches, hubs and backplanes. Especially the info about backplanes was new to me and very helpfull in understanding how these appliances do what they do. The answers weren't exactly what I was hoping to hear, but how often does that happen? I split the points because meverest and robrandon both helped a lot with meverest with the first reply which is why he got as many points as he did.  I'm probably going to take another look at what non-criticals I have plugged into the switch that I have. Obviously the hubs,, T1 line, DC's, tape library and NASes will stay. There are some workstations (like mine for one) that can be rerouted through one of the spare hubs that I have.

I do have one last question though:

The hubs of mine have an uplink port (#16) and they also come with a scsi-like, 50 pin or so, proprietary cable for connecting to each other. When connecting these to the switch is there a special manner that they are to be connected? Like from port 16, the uplink port, to the switch? Straight through or in crossover mode (the little button associated with port 16)? From any port to the switch?
If there is an uplink port on your hub, you can use a regular "straight-through" ethernet cable to go from the hub's uplink port to the switch.  You can probably use any port on your switch.  In the past I've heard that some switches have seperate memory chips for certain sets of ports and that you should split your hub connections between them.  So, if you have a 16 port switch, that has 4 memory chips, your uplinks should be on something like 1,5,9,13, and then back to 2, 6, etc.  I'm not sure about that at all though.

If you don't have an uplink, you can use a "cross-over" ethernet cable.

The scsi port that you are talking about is probably to stack the hubs.  You would need to use their proprietary cable.
>> OK. Is that what MEverest was referring to in the very first answer to this question

yes, that is exactly what I was referring to. ;-)

>> The hubs of mine have an uplink port (#16) and they also come with a scsi-like, 50 pin or so

yes, that sounds like it would probably be a backplane connector.  Are you sure, then, that they are hubs and not switches?  the difference is that a hub is generally a broadcast device that will echo all traffic encountered on one port out to every other port on the device.  it can often be counterproductive to chain those kind of devices.

If they are switches, though, you may be better off to stack all the 'hubs' and use the resulting stack as the primary switching core and then use the current main switch as a secondary unit for low priority devices chained by a single port.

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