Hub vs Switch – What’s the Difference ? (Network Pros and Cons)

Hub vs Switch – What’s the Difference? (Network Pros and Cons). In this guide, we will introduce both Hub and Switch then explain key differences between both.

No matter whether you run a small, mid sized, or large business, having a speedy connection is a must. So, if you want your business to run speedily, make sure your network connectivity never gets compromised.

All in all, several network devices, such as hubs, switches, and routers, are used for building strong networks. Here, we will discuss hubs and switches in detail. Learn how these network devices operate and what are their key features.

Firstly, a hub has numerous ports and is a common point of connection for all devices. However, switches work by examining the destination address for each packet. Learn more about network devices and their functionalities.

So shall we start with Hub vs Switch – What’s the Difference? (Network Pros and Cons)

What is Hub?

Image source: Learnabhi

Hub is the most basic and common type of network device. All in all, responsible for connecting multiple networks together and providing access to all of them. Basically, the hub is a single point of failure, so if it fails, the entire network will go down. Unlike other networking devices, it has no routing tables.

Secondly, Hub does not send data to a specific address, but just broadcast information to every connected computer or device.

In simple terms, a hub is an array of network cable sockets best suited for simple LAN environments. In nutshell, the box basically copies incoming data and passes it onto other connected cables. They also cut costs and generate good traffic.

Besides, hubs are great, but they can process only one incoming data stream at a time. Meaning, if you connect too many cables to the hub, it can slow down traffic.

Types of Hubs

Image source: Eduba

There are three types of hubs – Passive, Active, and Intelligent Hub

  • Passive Hub – Passive hub collects and circulates packets of information to the ports and determines bugs and faulty hardware. Certainly, they are the connection point for wires and have AUI ports in their advanced designs.
  • Active Hub – It comprises a few additional features to the Passive Hub design. Active Hub monitors all the sent data and determines which packets need to be sent first. Additionally, fixes damaged packets and manage the directions.
  • Intelligent Hub – Intelligent Hub is the smarter one with in built management software. Concurrently, it analyses network problems, fix them, and assign users for faster working.

Features of Hub

  • Supports collision and broadcast domain (Only One).
  • Flexible and acts with shared bandwidth.
  • Supports half duplex transmission mode.
  • Hub operate as Layer 1 devices according to the OSI model.
  • Creating virtual LAN is not available.

Pros of Hub

  • Compatible with several Network Media types.
  • Cheap and can be easily accessed by anyone.
  • You can connect the hub to different media types easily in a few steps.
  • Hub in no way creates a negative impact on the network performance.
  • With hubs, you can expand your network device.
  • Offers backward compatibility and helps in monitoring the network.
  • A good option for small businesses and networks with fewer endpoints.

Cons of Hub

  • Basic hub design has no ability to choose the right path of the network.
  • Hub does not support Collision detection mechanism.
  • You cannot divide hubs into the Segment.
  • Filtering information is not possible with hubs.
  • You cannot control the network traffic or reduce it.
  • If a hub stops working, all the connected devices will automatically come to a halt.
  • With several endpoints, the traffic will become slow.
  • High volume hubs are a bit expensive.

Hub Use Cases

  • A great option if you want to create small home networks.
  • Allows creating a device or peripheral that can be easily accessed thought out the network.

What is Switch?

Image source: MatobWeb

A switch is a networking device that forwards data packets from one computer to another on a LAN or WAN. Consequently, it copies all data packets and sends to every other device in the network on the same wire. Switches read the destination address and transfer packets to the port with similar MAC address.

Works similarly to hubs, but it copies data onto one connected cable, which helps cut down on unwanted traffic.

Also, if the switch fails, only one segment of the network will be affected. Equally, switches work by examining the destination address in each packet. Then, it forwards the data to the network segment that is best able to handle the packet.

The original switch design focussed on connecting links together on private networks, unlike routers that focussed on connecting networks together.

Many medium sized and large networks deploy switches because it produces less network traffic and specializes in linking devices together. Also, they are easy to install, simple to use, and require less processing power.

Types of Switches

Image source: Storagepartsdirect

There are three types of switches – Modular, Smart, Managed, Unmanaged, and Fixed configuration Switches.

  • Modular Switches – Modular switches are expandable. Add N number of features both physically and logically as per the network requirements. They are flexible but expensive ones.
  • Smart Switches – They offer performance reporting, traffic shaping capabilities, and more. But smart switches have lighter capabilities compared to managed switches. 
  • Managed Switches – Managed switches offer ND inspection, IPv4 DHCP snooping, Control Plane Policies (CPP), and other security features. Evidently, also helps in creating many IP routers, traffic shaping, and status reporting.
  • Unmanaged SwitchesUnmanaged Switches do not have sophisticated capabilities like managed switches. Instead, they offer POE, energy savings, and loop detection. Also, these switches do not need any configuration.
  • Fixed configuration switches – These switches come with a fixed number of ports and are a superset of managed, unmanaged, and smart switches.

Features of Switch

  • PoE feature helps transmit power and data simultaneously via an ethernet cable.
  • Offers QoS Support.
  • Supports Spanning tree protocol.
  • Maintain a MAC address table and offers around 24 to 48 ports.
  • Software Defined Secure Network also automates defence and protects incoming data from malicious activities and attacks.
  • The redundancy feature ensures if a switch fails, the other one will be on its way to take over.

Pros of Switch

  • Helps lessen broadcast domains.
  • VLAN support helps with the logical segmentation of ports.
  • Switch helps to increase the network bandwidth and enhance network performance.
  • Reduces traffic by sending information to only addressed connected device.
  • Compared to other network devices, switch has less frame collision.
  • Reduces workload on individual hosts

Cons of Switch

  • Not a good option for limiting broadcasts when compared to a router.
  • In order to manage multicast packets, it is essential to properly design and configure the switches.
  • Discovering network connectivity issues is not easy with switches.

Switch Use Cases

  • Used for managing the flow of data across the networks.
  • Used for connecting devices together physically and logically.
  • Ideal for SOHO applications.

Up next with Hub vs Switch – What’s the Difference? is to compare the two solutions.

Hub vs Switch – Comparison Table

Image source: Eduba

On one side, hub is a device that connects several devices to a network, such as a LAN or the Internet. On the other, a switch is a device that connects network segments and provides access to shared resources.

Both Hub and Switch are popular network devices but differ in functionalities. Below we have compared the two based on different parameters.

Parameters Hub Switch
Hub work as a central connection at the physical layer of the OSI model and perform broadcast, unicast, and multicast.
Switch work at the data layer of the OSI model and mostly perform broadcasts. They can also perform unicast and multicast if needed.
Collision Domains
Only a single domain of collision is available
In the case of switch, each port has a separate collision domain
Transmission mode
Half duplex
Full duplex
Type of Device
Hub is a passive device
A Switch is an active device
Hub transmits data at a speed of up to 10 Mb per second
A switch transmits packets to the connected devices at a speed of 10 or 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, and 10 Gbps
Spanning Tree protocol
Hubs do not support the Spanning Tree protocol
Switch support several Spanning Tree protocols
Point of Collision
In hubs, collisions mostly occur in setup.
In full duplex switches, no collision takes place
Hub do not support any software
Switch use software for better administration
Hub broadcast information to every connected device resulting in more traffic
Switch broadcast information to only addressed connected devices resulting in less traffic.
Hub use electrical signal orbits
Switch use frames and packet

Hub vs Switch - Key Differences

  • A Hub operates on the physical layer, whereas Switch operates on the data link layer.
  • In Hub, packet filtering is not supported, whilst Switch supports packet filtering.
  • A Hub network device is difficult to hack, whereas a switch is easily hackable.
  • Hub is a half duplex transmission mode, while Switch is a full duplex transmission mode.
  • The Hub’s data transmission speed is quite slow compared to a switch.
  • In Hub, there is only one collision domain. In Switch, different ports have own collision domain.
  • A Hub device is an old type of device while Switch is advanced devices and widely used.
  • The number of ports connecting to the device is significantly greater in switches than in the hub.
  • A Hub device can not avoid switching loops. While Switch uses STP protocol to avoid switching loops.
  • Hub is a passive device while the switch is an active device.
  • Both Hub and Switch are used in a local area network.

Thank you for reading Hub vs Switch – What’s the Difference? (Network Pros and Cons). We should summarize now. 

Hub vs Switch - What's the Difference ? (Network Pros and Cons) Conclusion

Summarizing, Hub serves as a central point for all data traffic in the network. They work at the physical layer of the OSI model and professionals use for both broadcasting and receiving data.

Then, a Switch, on the other hand, is a hardware device that transfers data in the form of packets. Uses frames and packets to transmit data to the connected devices on a computer network.

Finally, switches are also known as packet switching to manage data transmission with enhanced security and efficiency.

Both network devices have their own functions, roles, and purpose. On one hand, hubs use electrical signal orbits, while on the other hand, switches use frames and packets.

Also, a hub is a passive device and operates as a Layer 1 device according to the OSI model. However, switches are active devices and operate at Layer 2 of the OSI model. You should learn more about the network devices – their features, pros, and cons. Also, compare the two based on the above listed parameters.

Avatar for Hitesh Jethva
Hitesh Jethva

I am a fan of open source technology and have more than 10 years of experience working with Linux and Open Source technologies. I am one of the Linux technical writers for Cloud Infrastructure Services.

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