Would a gigabit switch improve my network?

Hi all,
I have a medium sized LAN, which for the most part users gigabit based networking, however the modem/router supplied by my ISP only had four 100mbs ports. I was wondering, if I bought a gigabit switch/firewall, and connected my lan to it, and then it to the modem, would that speed up the network, as not all traffic would need to go to the modem/router?

Also, I guess I would just like the assurance of a hardware firewall.
fox_stattonAsked:
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xmlmagicianCommented:
Hi Fox

a switch firewall should improve things although remember that the gigabit part is not important as i assume that you have cat5e that gives you up to 100mbit/s. the topology i would use for better performance is
modem
firewall
switch (obviously modem behind firewall)

let me know how many users you have on your network and then i can advise on the hardware
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stergiumCommented:
hello .
A gigabit switch would improve in cases such as:
a) your users are exchanging (large) files between them and a probably a server.
b) there are network printers
c) there is network storage available to the users.
for those cases its a strong yes!

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memo_tntCommented:
for sure yes,, but be ware that your users are using gigabit computers ..

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fox_stattonAuthor Commented:
Hi,
there are just three users, but yes we exchange large files, as we have a central NAS which is connected to the modem/router, and the computers are automatically backed up to it. At the moment it takes about 10 mins to move 1gb... but I think the slow part may be that part of the network is connected via powerline (homeplugs)
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memo_tntCommented:
if your current network speed is 10/100 , then 10 min is normal ...
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xmlmagicianCommented:
agreed with memo you will need to get cat 6 cables and directly connect them from the 1gbs switch to the back of the PCs or you will have to change the whole infrastructure.
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profgeekCommented:
Your network is only as fast as the weakest link, which appears to be the Powerline connections.  As has been stated above, you will not get the benefit of gb networking unless all components can run at that speed, which includes your cabled connection.  You will need cat 6 cabling to enable that.  If all computers have gb ethernet and you have them connected to a gb switch using cat6 cabling, you should get much better throughput on your file transfers.

*** Moderator note: Cat 6 cabling is no requirement ***
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alexjfisherCommented:
Firstly, correctly installed cat5e cabling is perfectly sufficient for 1000BaseT (gigabit) ethernet.

For transferring large files quickly, you really would benefit from both the NAS and the end stations being connected to the same gigabit ethernet switch.

You're original question says you have a medium size lan.  Most networking professionals would probably define a medium size lan as having several hundred connected hosts over a number of vlans if required.  Are there really only 3 users?  A diagram would help.

Your powerline equipment may be the bottleneck (for the specific users you mention at least).
Installing UTP (cat5e is sufficient, but cat6 for a new installation might be a more future proof choice), would be the best solution.  If for whatever reason you can't do this (maybe you're renting premises and it's not allowed), you might consider upgrading your powerline equipment to the latest tech.  A quick google came up with this.
http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/powerline-networking/276157/netgear-launches-500mbit-s-powerline-networking-kit
If it's significantly faster than your current equipment it might remove your current bottleneck.

Even with upgraded LAN wiring/powerline equipment connecting your NAS to the network via a port on your router is not going to be ideal.  You'll never be able to push data faster than 100Mbit/sec.

Assuming your NAS does have a gigabit ethernet port, installing a gigabit switch between your users and the modem/firewall would be the best option.  But only do this if you can also get the powerline LAN up to speed too!

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xmlmagicianCommented:
I fail to see how my answer can not be counted as an assist to the solution?
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profgeekCommented:
I recommend #3.  The author was not interactive in this, posting only one response.  I believe that, given the nebulous nature of the question and lack of specifics, the following assisted:

stergium, profgeek, alexfisher, xmlmagician
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alexjfisherCommented:
I'm not sure points should be awarded to the author's that have incorrectly stated that cat6 cable is required for gigabit networking.

A Cat6 installation is typically more expensive.  Whilst it may provide some future proofing in terms of being the minimum requirement for faster ethernet standards, it is not needed to support 1000Base-T over standard distances.  Cat6a is needed to support 10G ethernet over the standard 100m distance.  Normal Cat6 will only do 10G ethernet over a shorter distance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gigabit_Ethernet#1000BASE-T
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_6_cable
http://compnetworking.about.com/od/ethernet/g/cat5-cables.htm

And for an argument about whether plain Cat5 can support 1000BaseT, see the wikipedia discussion page. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Gigabit_Ethernet
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IT-Monkey-DaveCommented:
Cat 6 is definitely not a requirement.  To award points for that suggestion is to endorse an incorrect or at least misleading solution IMHO.
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alexjfisherCommented:
Objecting to point split since Cat 6 is not a requirement for gigabit ethernet.
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