What is a Hub vs. a Switch?

One of the questions I get asked most often is about the difference between a hub and a switch. While both devices are used to connect computers to each other — a switch is “more intelligent” than a hub.

Let’s use a simple example (see Figure 1. below to visualize the network layout). Say you have a server that is connected to 3 computers via a hub or a switch. When information (a data packet, or packet) is sent from the server to computer #1, via the hub, all three computers (1,2 and 3) will receive the information.


But if the server had sent the information over a switch, only the computer for which the data was intended (computer #1) will receive the packet.

So the switch, therefore, serves as a bit of a “traffic cop” in that a switch is able to “direct traffic” very efficiently from one computer to another, as opposed to the hub which in unable to do so.

The advantage of a switch is that in large networks, a switch allows data to flow more quickly because the computers (e.g. #1, #2, and #3) only get the traffic that is intended for them.

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