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Difference between a unmanaged switch and a managed switch

Posted on 2008-06-17
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Last Modified: 2009-03-18
I felt that if i asked here i would get a least a few points of view on this question. i was recently told by my CCNA teacher that regualr unmanged switch lack the capability of "learning" where devices are on a network as compared to a cisco or a managed switch. Is he pulling my leg or something because if thats the case then could someone tell me the point of adding a unmanaged switch over a managed switch (besides the cost factor). I trust my teacher and i know he knows his stuff ( he works for BMW) but this statement has changed the way i look at networks in general....any thoughts ladies and gents.
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Question by:NSNR
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by:jenkinsme
jenkinsme earned 800 total points
ID: 21809118
NSNR

Unmanaged is also called dumb such as a dumb-hub.
Does nothing just allows all traffic to go all through your network, you have no control.

Managed  allows the SysAdmin to take control of the network, allows ports to talk to other ports or none at all. For example Switch (managed), that has several servers (www/ftp/mail, etc&) all connected to the managed switch.
I can have them set to where they cannot talk to each other nor are they allowed to talk to my print server or my personal computers, etc&, this is great if ever a hacker would breach a server the rest of my boxes are safe. I have set up if a hacker does breach they would go to a dead end and have no access to nothing. I have TCP/UDP/ICMP Ports choked (turned of or redirected). So yes it does work on OSI Layer 3.

Managed is always best if you can afford it
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Author Comment

by:NSNR
ID: 21809256
Thanks for your response. Lets say for example that you have a "dumb" switch in a network and a managed switch without any configs (no Vlans VTP just straight out of the box) is there an advantage that the managed switch has over the unmanaged?
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by:jenkinsme
jenkinsme earned 800 total points
ID: 21809277
a managed switch with no real configuration done has really nothing more for the network. The fact that it is configurable is what makes it a "smart" switch rather than a "dumb" switch.
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rynox earned 1200 total points
ID: 21809311
Your teacher is either wrong, or misusing terms.

By definition, a SWITCH will learn MAC addresses of connected devices to each port.  A switch is a layer 2 device, a modern switch is a multi-port BRIDGE.

A HUB is a layer 1 device and is a REPEATER, it does not learn anything and as the name states, simply repeats anything it hears on one port to all other ports on the device.

A MANAGED SWITCH, is a switch as above, and depending on the switch will have other abilities, such as traffic control, the ability to define VLANS, a web interface to make setting changes, etc.  How 'manageable' a switch is depends on the model of the switch.  A managed switch may also have layer 3 functionality and can be used to perform the same functions of a ROUTER.

LAYER 1 (Physical layer)- Repeater (hub)
LAYER 2 -(Data link layer) Bridge (switch), may be manageable
LAYER 3 (Network layer) - Router, many higher end switches are called multi-layer switches or layer 3 switches and can perforn the duties of a router and a bridge.

OSI model on Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OSI_model

Network switch on Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_switch

Hope this helps clear it up.
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by:rynox
rynox earned 1200 total points
ID: 21809344
The only real advantage over a unmanaged switch and a managed switch, both straight out of thier boxes, is that that managed switch will typically have more processor speed and memory to be able to handle it's higher capabilities and may switch faster, other than that they will perform the same base function.
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Author Comment

by:NSNR
ID: 21809404
Thanks you guys. with your opinions and explanations i now have the tools to make him think twice about his statement.
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