When we design a network, a network switch is necessity. It connects all devices together on a LAN (Local Area Network), redirecting and forwarding data to the correct destination. Switches come in various sizes that allow them to have any number of ports up to 48.

Generally, there are two types of switches : Unmanaged Switches and Managed Switches. In this article, we’re going to define the two types, look at the differences between them, list the advantages or disadvantages of them, and help you decide which is right for your network plan.

Unmanaged Ethernet Switches

They are simple, easy to use, and basic plug-and-play switches without remote configuration, management, or monitoring options, although many can be locally monitored and configured via LED indicators and DIP switches. They come with a fixed configuration that you cannot make any changes to, often used for small networks or to add temporary groups of systems to a larger network. They can be desktop ,rack or din-rail mounted.

Managed Ethernet Switches

A managed switch, on the other hand, also allows you to manage, configure, and monitor the settings of your LAN, including controls over LAN traffic, prioritizing certain channels, and create new virtual LANs to keep smaller groups of devices segregated and to better manage their traffic. Managed switches provide a lot of value in a network. First, they can let you know the status of the network. If an abnormal condition occurs, a managed switch can send you a message telling you so. This includes things like high bandwidth consumption, unexpected port connection, and even power supply failure. 

Additionally, managed switches also offer redundancy features that duplicate and recovery data in the event of a device or network failure. This can be critical if an Ethernet cable gets cut, unplugged, or plugged into the wrong port, or even if the switch is powered down. Managed switches are intelligent enough to find another path to the destination, or even block communications that should not be occurring on a specific port in order to prevent serious network issues. 

Comparison Between Managed Switch vs Unmanaged Switch

Unmanaged Switch

Managed Switch





Extends existing networks


Built for networks with high traffic / users


Allows for more devices to connect


Allows for more devices to connect


Little customization options


Customizable security





No configurable




No Monitorable




Can not breaks up broadcast domains


Breaks up broadcast domains


Low security

High Security


How to choose between a managed and unmanaged network switch

The answer to whether a managed vs unmanaged switch is best depends on your specific situation. Unmanaged switches are typically used in small networks. In simple applications where there are a few Ethernet devices and one to three switches TOTAL, unmanaged switches are often the best choice and will be the most economical. At-home networks, individual conference rooms in an office, or small labs may be fine with the unmanaged option.

 If you are running a large enterprise, data center, or an operation that needs high-security network protection, many network engineers and managers would suggest the use of managed switches. Managed switches are also ideal if clients, partners, or other external individuals need to gain access to your network. 

Brands & Where to Buy

Here are the top brands of managed switches for your business’s network:

Cisco – Cisco managed switches are the top-end selection when it comes to managed switches. However, their software is not the easiest to use and will require a professional to setup. Cisco switches offer the most security & configuration options for your network. Cisco is definitely one of the most expensive brands, but provides the best features. 

Ubiquity – Ubiquity’s software is a bit easier to understand than Cisco’s, although you will lose some level of control over your network as compared to Cisco. These switches are not as expensive, so if you are trying to save some money and don’t need all of the enterprise options that Cisco provides, Ubiquity switches are a great choice for your network. You can purchase them directly from Ubiquity or a reseller such as NewEgg.

InHand Networks – InHand’s unmanaged switches are generally the cheapest, but they also has some high-end models that are very reliable. You can shop from InHand online store directly and view their entire inventory.

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