Need a better switch

We are a small non profit pubisher.  We have 30 pc users plus 4 printers and 4 MAC users.  

Our server is a new Dell running Windows 2003 with Exchange.  We have newer pc's now running Windows XP and Outlook 2003.  The server is speedy, the pc's are speedy but Outlook isn't. I suspect our network infrustructure is less than adequate.  Our Netgear 24 port network switches are over 10 years old.  I imagine switch technology has improved in 10 years.  I don't buy switches often.
I was wondering if someone could tell me what features they look for in a switch.  I understand there are managed and unmanaged switches .

May be you know of some web site links which might be helpful or suggest a make/model which might suffice.

Your thoughts, please.

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How many switches do you currently have? Do all the servers, printers and workstations have cable back to a central closet, or distributed between multiple closets?
If you haven't had any cabling work done in over 10 years either, you might not have a certified CAT5e cable infrastructure to support any gigabit or even 10/100 switches. I'd recommend getting someone in to survey/certify your wiring before spending any more money on hardware.

You can't go wrong with a Cisco switch. I would highly recommend the new Express 500 series switches with web GUI interface. You can get them in up to 24 port models with various uplinks

Else I would highly recommend the Cisco 2960 series workgroup switches. You can get a single 48-port switch if your infrastructure supports it

Stay away from Dell switches. they're cheap, but unreliable.

Rule of thumb - you get what you pay for. If you want to make a single 7-10 year investment, go with Cisco.
Hi donpick,

If they are over 10 years old, I would suspect they are possibly 10Mbit and possibly hubs. Switches are much more efficient. For your company, an unmanaged switch should be more than adequate as you don't need things such as VLAN's, STP and other advanced features. Just make sure you don't have any loops in the network. Really you need to decide if you want 100Mbit or 1000Mbit speeds and if your clients support 1000Mbit speeds.

Both Netgear and Linksys appear to make some nice gigabit unmanaged switches.

Good Luck,


I would also say that Linksys support is excellent. I had a failed Wi-Fi access point from them and they collected it from site, and sent a replacement in about 3 days. The item was collected from the Uk and returned to Holland and the new item came back the same way. I really think the support is very efficient and fast. A friend of mine also had a problem with another Linksys device and had a very similar experience.
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Dean ChafeeIT/InfoSec ManagerCommented:
The best "bang for the buck" I have found is in Netgear. The one I like is:
NETGEAR GS724T 24-port Gigabit Smart Switch - about $350 with a nice management gui.

As irmoore said Dell switches stink!  I have one... that was enough. I have a bunch of Dell hardware, but their networking stinks.
Cisco will be expensive, but the best for sure. I use only Cisco for core switches.


You can use managed switches better than unmanaged  switches.This helps you to upgrade your network in future .This cisco switch support STP.Vlan even layer 3 protocol also.3560 switches support 10/100/1000  want any clarification about this switch ,please go through this link.
donpickAuthor Commented:
So many great answers!  Thanks to everyone.  I have split points because every answer is useful.
I have homework to do.
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