Difference Between Hub and Switch

Difference Between Hub and Switch

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Anshuman
Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content
Updated on Jan 19, 2024 16:57 IST

Hubs and switches are two commonly used networking terms. However, many people are perplexed whether these words are related in any way. In this article, we will look at the difference between a hub and a switch.

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Before we get into the difference between hub and switch, let’s first understand what are network devices in computer networks. So, what exactly is a network device? A network device in a computer network is a device that connects fax machines, printers, and other electronic devices to the network. With the help of network devices, you can transfer data quickly, safely, and accurately across one or more networks.

Difference Between Hub and Switch

There are various differences between hub and switch, and let’s explore them in a tabular format for better understanding.

Parameter Hub Switch
Operates at The physical layer of the OSI model Data link layer of OSI model
Function Connects various computers to a single network. Connects multiple devices, manages ports and VLAN security settings
Number of ports Maximum of four ports Between twenty-four to forty-eight (24 -48)
Number of the collision domain One It depends on the number of ports, as each port has its own collision domain. 
Device type Passive Active
Speed 10Mbps 10-100Mbps
Transmission mode Half-duplex Full-duplex
Data transmission form Electrical signal or bits Frame & packet
It can function as a repeater Yes No
No. of different types of transmission possible One Three
Transmission type Broadcast-type Unicast, multicast and broadcast-type
Device type Not an intelligent device An intelligent device
Usage Not widely used nowadays Widely used
Spanning tree No spanning tree is possible Multiple spanning trees possible
Hackable Difficult to hack Easy to hack

What is a Hub?

Hub definition: A hub is a network device in a computer network where data from various directions converge and are then distributed to various devices.

In lay terms, a hub is a device that allows various computers/PCs and other devices to connect to a single network.

A hub sends data packets to all network devices, regardless of whether the data packet contains any MAC addresses. A hub has many ports, and a computer that wants to connect to the network plugs into one of them. When a data frame arrives at a port, the hub broadcasts it to all other ports, regardless of whether it is destined for a specific destination.

There are two types of hubs, such as:

  • Active hub: An active hub has its own power supply and can clean, improve, and relay network signals.
  • Passive hub: A passive hub collects power from active hub devices and wiring from nodes. Aside from that, a hub sends signals into the network without cleaning or boosting them.

Applications of Hub

There are various applications of a hub, and some of the most important ones are:

  • Hub is used to monitor networks.
  • A hub can establish small home networks.
  • A hub can provide connectivity in organizations
  • Hub can create a device that is accessible from outside the network.

For more information regarding Hub, you can also explore: What is Hub in Computer Networks?

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What is a Switch?

Switch definition: A switch is a networking device that connects multiple devices on a single computer network. 

You can use a switch to open or close a connection. When the switch is opened, a signal or power can pass through the connection. The flow is stopped, and the circuit connection is broken when the switch is closed.

A switch keeps a table of the addresses of the computers connected to it. When traffic passes through, the switch reads the address of the destination and routes it to the relevant computer rather than all connected computers. The traffic is routed to all connected computers if the destination address is not in the table.

There are four types of switches, such as:

  • Manageable switch: As the name suggests, a manageable switch has a console port and an IP address that can be assigned and configured.
  • Unmanageable switch: An unmanageable switch is a switch that cannot be configured as there is no console port; hence it is not possible to assign an IP address.
  • LAN Switch: This switch connects devices in an organization’s internal LAN (Local Area Network). This switch allocates bandwidth so that data packets do not overlap in a network.
  • PoE Switch: This type of switch is used in PoE (Power over Ethernet) Gigabit Ethernets. A PoE switch delivers greater flexibility and simplifies the cabling connections.

For more information regarding switches, you can also explore: What Is A Network Switch And Its Types.

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Applications of Switch 

There are various applications of a switch, and some of the most important ones are:

  • The switch can create a virtual LAN.
  • A switch maintains a MAC address table.
  • A switch can also work as a multi-port bridge.
  • Small office applications make extensive use of switches.
  • A switch aids in the management of data flow across a network.
  • A switch can be used to connect devices in a computer network physically.
  • The switch can send data to any device in either half-duplex or full-duplex mode.
 

Key Differences Between Hub and Switch 

Let’s go through switch vs. hub:

  • A hub is a networking device that connects multiple PCs to a single network, whereas a Switch connects multiple devices on a single computer network.
  • A hub operates on the OSI physical layer, whereas a switch operates on the OSI data link layer.
  • The hub uses a half-duplex cable, whereas the switch uses a full-duplex cable.
  • The switch is an active device, whereas the hub is a passive device.
  • The switch employs the Spanning Tree Protocol to avoid switching loops. On the other hand, the hub cannot avoid switching loops.
  • The hub shares the bandwidth between the ports. A switch, on the other hand, provides dedicated bandwidth to the ports.
  • The number of ports connecting to the device is significantly greater in switches than in the hub.
  • The hub’s data transmission speed is quite slow compared to a switch.
  • A hub network device is difficult to hack, whereas a switch is easily hackable.
  • A hub device is not so popular nowadays, whereas a switch is quite popular and widely used.
  • The switch is an intelligent device that sends messages to selected destinations, whereas a hub sends messages to all ports.
  • The hub has only one collision domain, but different ports have their own collision domain in a switch.

You can also explore: What is the Difference Between Internet and Intranet?

Conclusion

A hub forwards data packets to each connected computer. Assume four computers are linked to a hub, and two communicate. A hub will send data packets to all four computers. Switches, on the other hand, can determine the destination of each data packet and selectively route it to the computer that requires it.

Now that you have a fair idea about the difference between a hub and a switch, you can use these network devices more effectively. We hope this comparison on hub vs. switch was helpful.

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FAQs

What is the difference between hub and switch?

There are several differences between hub and switch. Among these distinctions are: A hub is a networking device that connects multiple PCs to a single network, whereas a Switch connects multiple devices on a single computer network. A hub operates on the OSI physical layer, whereas a switch operates on the OSI data link layer. A hub network device is difficult to hack, whereas a switch is easily hackable. A hub device is not so popular nowadays, whereas a switch is quite popular and widely used. The switch is an intelligent device as it sends messages to selected destinations, whereas a hub is not an intelligent device as it sends messages to all ports. There is only one collision domain in the hub, but different ports have their own collision domain in a switch.

Which is better, the hub or the switch?

A switch is more intelligent than a hub as it sends messages to selected destinations, whereas a hub is not, as it sends messages to all ports.

What is the purpose of a hub and a switch?

A hub connects multiple PCs to a single network, whereas a Switch connects multiple devices on a single computer network.

Which device is more efficient regarding data transmission, a hub or a switch?

A switch is more efficient because it eliminates unnecessary data transmission by forwarding data only to the intended device, reducing network congestion.

Can a switch divide the bandwidth among connected devices?

A switch can provide dedicated bandwidth to each connected device, allowing simultaneous data transmission without congestion.

Can a hub divide the bandwidth among connected devices?

No, hubs share the available bandwidth among all connected devices, leading to potential congestion and slower data transmission.

About the Author
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Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content

Anshuman Singh is an accomplished content writer with over three years of experience specializing in cybersecurity, cloud computing, networking, and software testing. Known for his clear, concise, and informative wr... Read Full Bio