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What's the difference between a switch and a hub?

Posted on 2006-07-06
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What's the difference between a switch and a hub?

And how do you know which one is best to use for a paticular network?
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Question by:Axter
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by:chris_bol
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jjoseph_x earned 600 total points
ID: 17051351
You should always use a switch instead of a hub unless you need for the data to be replicated out every port (e.g.: you want be to able to sniff the traffic of all connected stations).  Even then, a decent, managed switch will allow you to replicata the traffic from one port to another.
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by:xmaveric
xmaveric earned 400 total points
ID: 17051395
When you send data to a hub, the hub forwards it to all attached computers.

When you send data to a switch, it only forwards the data to the specific computer the data is meant for.


Now that switches are as cheap as hubs, most people use switches because they provide a faster, more reliable network.
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by:prashsax
prashsax earned 600 total points
ID: 17051600
The basic difference between HUB and switch is like this:

On a HUB when a machine send a packets, this packet is send to all machines connected to this HUB irrrespective of the IP address of MAC address of destination machine.
So anyone connected to this HUB can listen any conversation happening on any of the machines on this HUB.

On a switch, when a machine send out a packet, the switch looks at the destination MAC address and send the packet to only that port where the destination machine is connected. So here even if many machines are connected to a switch only the destination machine will receive the packet and not all machines.

Now, generally you should use Switch in a network as it is safer then HUB and provides more speed.(Less packet collisions).

But in some cases you can use HUB. Like if you want to monitor all the traffic going and coming to your internet connection. So here you can plug a HUB between your internet router and network. Now connect a machine to this hub and  you can look at all the traffic passing thru the HUB.
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by:Axter
ID: 17051845
How about if you're using old style video games like Duke Nukem on a multiplayer game, where the packets are being sent to multiple machines.  Would a HUB then be faster then a switch?
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by:prashsax
prashsax earned 600 total points
ID: 17052215
No, HUB will not be faster then switch.

One thing you need to consider is that even if HUB is sending a single packet to all ports but other machines connected to it will discard the packet (in normal mode). Because the destination IP address on that packet differs from that they have assigned to them. Only one machine which has same IP address as mentioned in the packet will repond to it.

So, switch is still faster.

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Expert Comment

by:xcromx
ID: 17052963
Switches have a different interfaces then hubs
meaning each port on a switch has its own mac address
hub only has one mac address..

Use the switch in all your networking needs..faster and more reliable
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Expert Comment

by:Jared Luker
ID: 17054143
If you want to watch the traffic on your network than a hub is not your answer.  I agree that you should ALWAYS use a switch.

You can use sniffing programs such as SNORT if you want to sniff the traffic on your network.
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by:jjoseph_x
jjoseph_x earned 600 total points
ID: 17054505
Actually hubs are stricly layer 1 devices, so they don't have MAC addresses.  Actually, neither do switch ports... they just receive and transmit the bits, they don't require MAC addresses either (though managed switches do have MACs on some of their ports).

Also, you can't use a sniffing program very effectively with a switch unless you're able to mirror ALL of the data to one port.  If your machine is connected to a switch, it will only receive traffic destined to its MAC address (so even if your NIC is in promiscuous mode, it will only get data that's destined to your machine)... that's fine if you want to sniffer traffic between your machine and another workstation, but it won't like you sniff traffic for the entire network.

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by:Axter
ID: 17055830
Thank you all
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