Demystifying Unmanaged and Managed Switches

The Network Switch Question finally answered.

Making everything easier for tech gurus and novices.


What differentiates a Managed switch from an Unmanaged Switch?

Over and above the basic function of the unmanaged switch, allowing ethernet devices in a network to talk to each other, the Managed Switch is more complex and goes further to give users the ability to control and configure the switch, prioritizing the LAN traffic, and allowing most important information to get through. The main difference is in these functionalities.


Unmanaged Ethernet Switches

Usually plug-and-play devices due to their basic feature that allows ethernet devices to communicate with one another within the network eg. communication between a PC and Network printers. Unmanaged switches are shipped with fixed configurations and do not allow further configurations once on site.

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These switches use auto negotiated ports to determine factors such as data rates and transmission modes ie. half duplex and full duplex (a half-duplex transmission provides one way communication one way at a time, while full duplex allows communication to move in both directions at the same time).
As a bonus feature, unmanaged ethernet switches have MAC Media Access Control address that keep track of dynamically
learned switch ports and MAC addresses. This helps in determining where to direct traffic on the LAN. With this switching capability a network hub will not be needed. They can offer extended operating temperatures and a nearly noise-free operation which is best for small deployments like homes and small offices.
Managed Ethernet Switches

All features in an unmanaged switch will be found in a managed switch. Though complex, managed switches give you more control of the LAN traffic, how data travels in the network and who can access it. The switch gives you the ability to adjust each port on the switch to any setting you want allowing you to monitor the network.


With Simple Network Management Protocol SNMP features administrators can monitor devices on the network. The SNMP is a protocol that enables the exchange of management information between ethernet devices. Administrators in the ICT department can quickly monitor, detect, troubleshoot and repair network problems from a centralized location without having to physically interact with the switch.



In addition, to SNMP, managed switches provide other features like: Quality of Service, Virtual LAN support, port mirroring, redundancy, Bandwidth Rate limiting, etc. This is however dependent on the model and manufacturer brand. These advanced features render managed switches more expensive than the unmanaged ones. Furthermore, they require software patches and updates, and skilled ICT professionals for implementation which heightens the costs. With Remote Accessible Console, administrators have the ability to make configuration changes or adjustments without necessary being at the physical location using the web interface.

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So when do you go for Managed Switches?

As an organizations needs elevate and deployments of advanced features are necessary, eg Wireless LAN, IP telephony, IP Surveillance then it is best to consider a managed switched.


Most network administrators with heftier network demands opt for managed switches. These mainly feature port-mirroring and with the help of a protocol analyzer, allow monitoring of the activity of incoming traffic which facilitates troubleshooting. Managed switches also allow network professionals to monitor and prioritize traffic, set up VLANs, and program them through interfaces such as SNMP or console.


Having Switch Troubles?

With years of experience in Networking, the Talinda East Africa team has a battery of highly skilled professionals to control and configure switches. Look no further when faced with any switching issue. We provide:

  • On site Support
    • Remote Support on cloud
      • Service Level Agreements SLA
        • Adhoc Support

          We advise, design and tailor make your switches to your desired network solution using the IEEE standards to ensure your deployments are full proof, highly secure and most relevant to avoid any redundancies.


          Did you miss our last blog on PoE & Non PoE switches? GET IT HERE


          Nov 21 ,2019



          Nov 21 ,2019


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