Managed vs Unmanaged Switch, Which One to Choose?


Nowadays, the network switch can be classified into managed switch and unmanaged switch. Individuals or organizations may be confused about which kind of switch should choose. Generally, a managed switch is more powerful than an unmanaged switch.

It’s said that managed switch would be the mainstream in futural development. However, the unmanaged switch also takes up a considerable market in some industries and fields such as electricity, coal, and transportation. Thus, what’s the difference between a managed and unmanaged switch and which one should you choose?

Managed vs Unmanaged Switch

Part I. What Is Managed Switch?

The main task of the managed switch is to maintain all network resources in good. It provides many network management methods based on the terminal control port, web management, network management software, etc.

Therefore, network management personnel can monitor the working status and operating situation locally or remotely. The working status and modes of all switching ports can be managed. The data of the managed switch will achieve the configuration through SNMP.

SNMP is the used most widely network management protocol based on TCP/IP, which can filter the address, port, protocol type, and service of the data.

Features of the managed switch with full control and monitoring include:

● It can be deployed in a wider range of topologies such as Spanning Tree Protocol, Ring, Mesh, Stacking and Aggregation, which allows for greater redundancy and reliability.

● It can manage and access telemetry data showing traffic with remote management and software-defined networking (SDN) management, even power endpoint devices, and easily troubleshoot large networks.

● Plenty of security features can control who is accessing the network, monitor attacks and help remediate any breaches that occur.

● It’s capable of optimizing the performance of devices and applications on the network through Quality of Service (QoS), which contributes to prioritizing traffic and grouping device types using common services.

Part II. What Is Unmanaged Switch?

Unmanaged switches don’t handle the data directly. It belongs to devices of data link layer that can identify the MAC address of the data packet, transfer based on the MAC address and then record the MAC address and its corresponding ports on the inner address table. An advantage of the unmanaged switch is Plug and Play.

Features of unmanaged with low-cost basic connections include:

● Plug-and-play operation that relies on auto-negotiation for settings.

● Suitability limited to simple network topologies, such as star and daisy chain.

● Ability to create and store MAC-address tables, making traffic management a step better than with the use of Ethernet hubs.

● No distinction in how the switches treat multicast traffic and broadcast traffic, which can cause severe congestion issues called broadcast storms (a problem especially for industrial IoT devices, which often rely on multicast traffic for device-related commands)

Part III. Managed vs Unmanaged Switch, What’s the Difference?

The main distinction between managed and unmanaged switches is the method. The managed switch provides network managers with control, managing LAN traffic and confirming its priority.

However, unmanaged switch is just Plug and Play. It allows devices of the LAN to communicate with each other without users’ interference.

1. Performance

Unmanaged switches are easy to use with a fixed configuration, which means the network can’t be changed. Therefore, it’s always adopted in small companies or start-ups.

But the managed switch allows managing, configuring and monitoring LAN. Moreover, the redundancy of managed switches helps copy and restore the data when the device and network break down.

2. Security

The unmanaged switch has the basic security feature such as protecting the device from manipulation with the lockable port cover.

However, the managed switch is equipped with superior security functions. It can monitor and control the network to shut down activity threads, protect data, and control and manage plans.

3. Cost

An unmanaged switch is cheaper than a managed switch. Besides, the price is also different according to the different numbers of ports.

4. Application

Generally, unmanaged switches should be chosen when it comes to small networks such as networks in small enterprises, families, single offices, etc.

As for the managed switch, it would be more suitable for enterprises with large-range networks or those using data center that needs better control of the traffic of the network.

Part IV. Should You Choose Managed Switch or Unmanaged Switch?

The selection of a managed switch depends on many factors. You’d better inquire professional technicist or network manager. In general, you can think of the following questions when purchasing.

● Where are the switches deployed?

● How many users or devices need to connect to the network?

● Do you need to control network traffic or configure the network?

● What purpose do you use the switches?

Unmanaged switches are most common in small and simple networks such as the connections only involving a dozen devices. Besides, there is no requirement for security and control.

Compared with unmanaged switches, managed switches are more flexible and multifunctional. It’s often used in large enterprises, governments, universities, and healthcare organizations.

Part V. Related Product: VSOL Managed and Unmanaged Switch

1. Layer 3 Managed Switch

VSOL provides a series of managed switches supporting different functions to meet users’ different demands. The switches have different numbers of GE(Gigabit Ethernet) ports or 10GE ports. If you need to apply the switches in public zones, enterprises or highways, you also can choose the Ethernet switch supporting PoE.

For example, the VSOL 48GE-port managed switch V3554-P can supply power to IP cameras, IP phones, wireless AP, etc. This Layer 3 switch can work as an aggregation layer switch and connects to the server, managing all devices and data.

VSOL Layer 3 Managed Switch

2. Layer 2 Unmanged Switch

Similar to the managed switch, the VSOL Layer 2 unmanaged switch has three series of switches. These switches can be classified into Layer 2 unmanaged PoE switches and non-PoE switches.

They adopt high-quality network chips and stable POE chips, which can be widely used in Ethernet access scenarios such as small and medium-sized enterprises, Internet cafes, hotels, and schools.

VSOL Layer 2 Unmanged Switch

In conclusion, you should measure the real demands when selecting managed and unmanaged switches. What else would like to learn about switch? Comment below to let us know!

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