Wired, 8-port gigabit router...or switch?

I thought I understood what a switch is, and bought a TP-Link 8-port gigabit switch (TL-SG108) thinking I could replace my (too slow) 8-port Netgear Prosafe VPN Firewall ( FVS-318) device for my wired home network (for Internet distribution.)

The Netgear Firewall device (I think acts as a router, with extra hardware firewall features), has a WAN port, and 8 other ports. It works, but is way too slow.

When I substituted the TP-Link TL-SG108 switch (thinking it would auto-sense which was the WAN port, it didn't. It didn't do anything (but display lights.) It does not distribute the Internet among the network drops (maybe it acts as a connector between machines in the network? I don't know, I didn't try that. I just want to get the Internet to all 8 drops (I'm sure I'll still have network connectivity between machines.) I did try unplugging both the cable itself and the power to the modem, as well as the switch, but no change. I can't remember if I rebooted the computers (I have tried the TP-Link switch several different times.)

I don't care about the VPN functionality (never used it.)
I don't (think) I care about the hardware firewall functionality (I have been told that ALL modern routers - and switches? -  act as firewalls)
I need 8 ports for the wired home network drops
home system, low budget ($200+ solutions are just too expensive)

Please help me:
A.) understand what a switch does. I keep reading, but different sites make it confusing (and make it sound like it should work for me)
B.) recommend an inexpensive solution
C.) I also want wireless gigabit in my home, so please also recommend an inexpensive gigabit wireless router, that will be connected at one of the upstairs network drops (for best wireless coverage.)

Thanks in advance for any help! I feel stupid asking these basic hardware questions, but clearly I have misunderstood previous advice and information about what a switch is and how it functions.

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Don JohnstonInstructorCommented:
You don't specify the type of internet service that you have, but typically you will have a single host connection. This means that your internet connection must go through a router or firewall that is performing NAT if you want more than one device accessing the internet.

A) A switch (layer-2) simply extends the network to all the ports.  Which means if you connect one port of an 8-port switch to the network, then the other 7 ports will also be on the network.
B) I picked up a couple D-Link DGS-1008G/RE 8-port switches and they work fine.
C) A "gigabit wireless router" is somewhat problematic. Wireless speeds are typically below 100mbp/s. So a gigabit wireless router won't give you anything that a 100mbp/s wireless router will.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Also you cannot replace a router with a switch, so when you connect the switch to the router, nothing much will happen. Only one device (one computer or a router) can connect to your modem.

If the Netgear is not fast enough, replace it with a faster router.

I replaced a Cisco RV042 router and Netopia G wireless router with a Cisco RV042G router (MUCH faster) and a Cisco RV220W wireless router. My new(ish) laptop has an N wireless card and I can routinely move big files (50Gb or more) at a steady 75 Megabytes/sec to the desktop wired machine.
dtleahyAuthor Commented:
Thanks, Don.

I have Comcast Cable broadband Internet (supposed to be 30 megabit now, 60 megabit by year's end.) Testing the speed (using several different broadband speed test sites) with the Netgear firewall in-line, I get about 3.7megabit download, 2.9megabit upload. I have tested before, removing the firewall and directly connecting just one computer and the download speed was over 25megabit (so I know the old firewall is the problem.)

I think my question "B" was poorly worded. By "solution", I mean what piece of equipment will replace my Netgear firewall? You said, "your internet connection must go through a router or firewall that is performing NAT", so I assume the "solution" here is a router (brand/model recommendations welcomed.)

Is there a role for my TP-Link TL-SG108 switch? Like for example, if a 4-port wired gigabit router is a lot less expensive than an 8-port, maybe I can buy a 4-port gigabit router, then daisy-chain the TP-Link switch off one port of the router?

Thanks again,

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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You need a fast router (as I described above) to do what you want to do.  That is how I solved the problem in my home office.
dtleahyAuthor Commented:
But does the wired gigabit router have to be 8-ports?

Or, can I buy an inexpensive 4-port gigabit router (TP-LINK SafeStream TL-R600VPN Gigabit Broadband VPN Router 1 x 10/100/1000Mbps WAN Ports 4 x 10/100/1000Mbps LAN Ports), and then connect the 8-port gigabit switch (that I just bought) to one of the router's LAN ports?
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
It can be but does not have to be. I have a fast gigabit router with 4 ports and a fast 3 Com gigabit switch with 8 ports. Everything in my network is gigabit including throughput, so the network is fast.

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dtleahyAuthor Commented:
does the wired gigabit router have to be 8-ports?

This was what I needed:
"It can be but does not have to be. I have a fast gigabit router with 4 ports and a fast 3 Com gigabit switch with 8 ports. Everything in my network is gigabit including throughput, so the network is fast. "

So, I was simply missing a fast router, and can "daisy-chain" off a cheap(er) 4-port router with the fast switch I already purchased. A $61 solution.


JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You can plug an 8-port switch into a Router LAN port. Not much to do because all modern gear is auto sensing.
dtleahyAuthor Commented:
Equipment ordered. Thanks Don and John!

JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
@dtleahy  - You are very welcome and I was happy to help. Thank you, Don for your good information as well.
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