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Read the article that everyone's commenting on.
thanks Leo your explanation helped me alot on what the differences are , but one question i have is : can a switch split one internet connection to several computers?
Maybe. It depends on your ISP. Quite often they'll assign only one IP down the internet connection, so while the switch might get them all connected, only one will actually be able to access the internet. A Router that does network address translation (NAT) allows them to all use the single IP address and still access the internet. A switch will also not give you the safety of a firewall that a NAT router does. My recommendation: spring for a router :-).
I've just come across your site for the first time, and it looks like a really neat resource.
If I have a hub with an uplink port, can I just plug in the broadband ethernet cable into that to give all of the other machines access to the net, assuming my ISP doesn't mind.
In a word: maybe. In many cases there's nothing special about an uplink port other than having it's transmit and receive connections reversed. So if you don't have a hub with an uplink port, but just a really really plain one, that might also work. The difference would be whether or not you need a "normal" or "reversing" network cable. You may just have to try the combinations to see which work.
Again, though, you'll lose the firewall protection of a NAT router, and if your ISP only assigns one IP address per customer, then you won't have NAT to allow those multiple computers to all see the network at the same time.
You know where I'm headed.... My recommendation: spring for a router :-).
Hi Leo, I just searched Google for the differences between a hub, a switch, and a router and landed on your site. Your summary is very well done, I still have a few questions:
1. If I have a single cable internet account with a static IP and I want to use the internet with two computers simultaneously, will a router do the job?
2. Will I be able to transmit files between the two computers using an internal network with this setup?
3. Which brand do you recommend for a router? Which one offers Gigabit routers?
Thanks again for your help and keep up this great website!! It rocks!! It really does!! (-:
Thanks for your kind words, John.
1) Static IP: yep, most routers should. You'll have to configure the static IP in the router, and turn off its attempt to use DHCP, but as I said, most will. It's actually my configuration here at home.
2) Machine-to-machine behind the router: absolutely. It does require a little functionality out of the router (providing rudimentary DNS and DHCP), but almost all do. And if not, there are alternatives to work around that too.
3) I'm actually not up on gigabit routers yet. As for brands, I'm kinda partial to LinkSys, you can see what I run on my recommendations page at http://pugetsoundsoftware.com/recommend.html. Cisco now owns LinkSys, and they of course do good stuff. I've heard good things about dLink and NetGear as well.
Great site, it helped clear up some misconceptions I had about the differences between the three. I just have one question, is there a difference between a small 4 or 8 port switch like you could buy at your local computer store and the big 24 or 36 or even 100 port switches that are used for networking purposes in businesses and schools? Do all switches work the same and have the same inputs/outputs? Thanks for your time, much appreciated
Heh ... neat question. In short: price and capacity. While there might be slight functionality differences (even the pros get the hub/switch/router thing confused -- or sometimes functionality kinda blurs the lines), the larger devices should be essentially just higher capacity versions of the same thing you might buy for home or small office. In the truly higher end devices, they can often be joined together, or have additional components added. For example a large Cisco router might actually have removeable components, much like cards you could add to your PC, that allow it to be configured or customized to the application at hand.
I seem to be in a unique situation, which people say should not be, including the tech support for my ISP. I have a DSL modem running directly to a hub, which has a internet port. I then have all remaining ports available running to individual computers. Yet, somehow, each computer is able to log onto the internet at the same time. I know for a fact it is a hub, and that I only have one IP address. Any thoughts?
That is kind of interesting :-). Look at the IP address assigned to each computer (NT, 2000 & XP: in a command prompt type: ipconfig -- for win9x, Start->Run winipcfg). If they're of the form 10.x.x.x, 172.16.x.x or 192.168.x.x then you're behind a NAT somewhere (what's your HUB's manufacturer & model?). If they all start with you're ISP's address range, then the ISP is simply handing out multiple IP addresses down your connection.
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