If you're shopping
to set up a home network
, you will have to make a choice between active
and passive hubs
- Passive Hubs for Home Networks
Passive hubs are very inexpensive. In actuality, a passive hub is nothing more than several connectors wired together.
Cheap, no external power source required, excellent for very small networks with few computers.
Usable for relatively short distances, all computers share the same bandwidth (one computer sending out a packet goes to all the computers on the network), half-duplex operation, using a combination of 10/100 speed Ethernet causes the throughput to be around 10Mbps.
Active Hubs for Home Networks
Active hubs have the added benefit of receiving packets and amplifying them before sending them out to the other computers.
Also relatively cheap, excellent for very small networks with few computers, usable for longer distances.
All computers share the same bandwidth (one computer sending out a packet goes to all the computers on the network), normally half-duplex operation, require a power source, using a combination of 10/100 speed Ethernet causes the throughput to be around 10Mbps.
Switches for Home Networks
Switches are the best solution if you are running a cablemodem or DSL and you share it amongst many computers. Switches analyze the packets and send them only to the destination port. The other computers do not hear this exchange. A switch allows full transfer rates; sixteen 100Mbps computers can talk to each other at the same time at 100Mbps each whereas a hub forces all of the 16 computers to share a piece of the 100Mbps pie.
Excellent for larger networks with many computers, can mix 10/100 speed Ethernet components and have each connection operate as fast as the slowest computer, computers do not share the same bandwidth, full-duplex operation, usable for relatively longer distances.
Not cheap (but some 4- or 5-port units can be purchased for the same as active hubs if you shop around), requires a power source.
iandunn says re Switches Vs Hubs for Home Networks: Nowadays switches are so cheap that there's really no content. Although, I'd personally choose a small router like the Linksys BEFSR41 over a switch