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There are often times when wiring business offices or even setting up home computer systems where it may be necessary to connect additional devices to your existing cabling. Of course the last thing you want to do is run a new, separate Ethernet cable to the new equipment – that can be time-consuming and expensive. So what choices do you have?
Ethernet splitters will allow you to “share” a single cable run among more devices, solving problems when adding or relocating equipment. The key is to install a sharing device that will not slow your network or cause communication conflicts, and still allow you to use each device at the same time.
In practice, there is a significant difference between a true Ethernet “splitter”, a hub, and a switch. Although each device has its own attributes and reasons for use, introducing them into your network can have significant variations in the results you experience.
Hubs may actually slow your network performance, as the data across the network must be sent to each port, eating up bandwidth. This may not be a huge issue if you only have a few devices, but the performance issue is there, nonetheless.
Network switches perform similar functions as the hubs of the past, enabling you to connect multiple devices to a single Ethernet cable. The major difference is that switches filter through data on the network, sending information only to the correct destination.
When you have a wired network that needs to expand or handle additional devices, Ethernet switches are the way to go.
In this discussion of Ethernet splitters, we’ll actually be referring to switches, as true “splitters” should be avoided, and hubs have been all but replaced by switches.
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This D-Link switch is packed with features that place it at the top of the heap as the best overall unit. Even for network novices, the DGS-1008G is simple to implement, with plug-and-play simplicity.
Ease of installation and Gigabit speed, this D-Link switch gives you the power to transfer large files such as video, music, and graphics quickly, without dragging down your network. Small and lightweight, switch is one you can “set and forget.”
This TP Link switch is high on the list of best Ethernet splitters due to its plug-and-play installation and impressive performance.
Netgear’s ProSAFE GS208 rates high honors due to the product’s simple installation and operation, that makes it extremely well-suited for home or office use. One unique option for this unit is its availability in either a durable and light plastic housing, or a metal casing.
This high-tech Ethernet switch incorporates sensors in each port that detect not only whether the port is in use, but also the length of the cable connected to the port.
Less power is then sent to empty ports, inactive ports, and to devices with cable lengths that are short, but longer than 5 feet. Power save operation kicks in when no devices are actively sending data.
If your networking needs call for more than a simple, plug-and-play switch, you will want to consider a managed switch for maximum flexibility and control of your network and attached devices.
Ubiquiti Networks offers the EdgeRouter ERPoe-5, with 5 ports capable of transfer rates at a blazing 1 million packets/second. This unit is highly customizable via EdgeOS, allowing you to control multiple EdgeRouter devices at once with this online application. You can customize Quality of Service (QoS), user settings, and security.
This managed switch is intended for business use by technical personnel, and may not be an options for the average homeowner or consumer.
Update Firmware – then typical setup is easy. PoE at 24/48v on three ports is convenient, saves using 3 injectors. Router setup is straightforward, if you load latest firmware and use Wizards.
There are several types of Ethernet switches available. Each has its own advantages, depending on the application and network requirements.
Modular switch – these switches over flexibility in their ability to have additional ports added when needs change.
Fixed switches, unmanaged – fixed switches have a set number of ports available, which cannot be expanded. Unmanaged switches require no configuration or software setup. They are ideal for use in home and small business applications, since they are inexpensive and easy to install and use.
Fixed switches, managed – managed switches offer the most functionality and flexibility for complex networks where engineers want or need full control of network functionality and the use of ports on the network. These require a level of network expertise to configure and manage the switches and devices on the network.
There are a few key decision points that factor into your decision on which ethernet splitter is best for your particular networking requirements:
When comparing switch speed, take notice that today’s Gigabit switches are now very cost-effective, and exponentially faster than older Fast Ethernet switches. Even if you don’t have any devices that run at Gigabit speed today, they may be in your future sooner than you think.
Featured Image via Pixabay