Managed vs Unmanaged Switch: Difference and Comparison

In a network’s design, the network’s brain is the network switch that is used. All the devices are all connected and kept in contact by the networking hardware.

Choosing and implementing the appropriate network switch is important. Switches vary in size and also in their number of ports. They can have up to a maximum of 48 ports. Managed and unmanaged switches are two of the common types.

Key Takeaways

  1. A managed switch allows for more control and customization of the network, including VLANs and Quality of Service (QoS) settings.
  2. An unmanaged switch is simpler and less expensive but has limited functionality and cannot be configured.
  3. A managed switch is better for large networks with more traffic, while an unmanaged switch suits smaller networks.

Managed vs Unmanaged Switch

Managed and Unmanaged Switches differ in their features, cost, performance, and much more. They have a lot of differences. An unmanaged switch is one that can be immediately plugged and played devices in any network, whereas an unmanaged switch gives greater control. They also differ in the security level they offer and the places of application.

Managed vs Unmanaged Switch

Managed switches work on protocols called the simple network management protocol and the SNMP to monitor the devices used in the network. The support port mirroring.

They offer great port security combined with the option of disabling the ports and also to protect from unauthorized access. Managed switches offer redundancy.

Unmanaged switches don’t provide any redundancy. They are risky but still provide basic security levels. Unmanaged switches are best suited for offices or places with very few workers.

In spite of the low security and features, it might be the best option for startups. It has inbuilt options, and thus the user need not make any changes.

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonManaged SwitchUnmanaged Switch 
Function A managed switch is used to manage, configure, and monitor the settings that also allow you to control the LAN traffic.           An unmanaged switch is used to establish connections with ethernet devices with a particular configuration. It does not allow you to make any adjustments or corrections. 
Performance A managed switch enables the user to prioritize the channels to get the best performance.An unmanaged switch comes with all the options already programmed, and it doesn’t impose the need to set things up. It has an in-built QoS service that increases its performance.
SecurityManaged switches have a lot of security benefits. It can monitor and control the process of setting down threats, protect the data, and take care of the management plan. Unmanaged switches do not have a protective security system. They have very little and a low level of security. However, it prevents tampering with the network and also acts as a lockable port.  
CostManaged switches are expensive.    Unmanaged switches are less expensive, comparatively. 
UsageManaged switches are used in networks with a lot of users.Unmanaged switches are used in networks with a few users.

What is Managed Switch?

Managed switches are known for their redundancy and provide from their inbuilt quality of service. It allocates for a higher value of bandwidth.

This larger bandwidth ensures that the IP data reaches the destined ends smoothly and without any interruption, it receives the sensor data. The managed switches support the simple network management protocol through embedded agents.

They have a command-line interface that can be accessed through the serial console. In addition to a serial console, it can also be accessed through telnet and secure shell.

They are classified into different groups and then managed. They also provide the users with some additional protocols like RSTP. This protocol allows an alternate cable path and prevents looping, which may cause network malfunctions.

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To reduce undecided downtime, the managed switches provide redundancy facilities. It also possesses some powerful features like VLANs and LACP, in addition to advanced filters and multicast algorithms.

These multicast algorithms help in prioritizing, partitioning, and organizing a filter that has a high speed. It also enables you to change the settings and configurations that help you to customize it to your needs.

managed switch

What is Unmanaged Switch?

Unmanaged switches don’t have any remote configuration and are the basic play and plug type of switches. They lack the features like remote configuration and monitoring.

Despite these limitations, some switches can be monitored locally and also be configured at times through LED indicators and DIP switches. They do not require any complex setup.

These switches establish stable communication between the ethernet devices. It provides network facilities and passes the information from one end to another. They have their own configuration, so it does not allow the user to modify it or make any changes.

They can be mounted to the desktop or attacked and are easy to install. Hence they are comparatively less expensive. One drawback is that it does not support IGMP and considers multicast traffic to be as same as broadcast traffic, and responds in the same manner.

unmanaged switch

Main Differences Between Managed and Unmanaged Switch 

  1. The managed switch is open to personalizing and is applicable for networks where changes are to be done, whereas unmanageable switches don’t allow the user to make changes.
  2. Managed switches have a better performance than unmanaged switches.
  3. Managed switches provide a greater level of security than unmanaged switches.
  4. Managed switches are more expensive than unmanageable switches.
  5. Managed switches are best suited for more users in a larger network, whereas unmanageable sources can be used for a smaller network with fewer users.

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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23 thoughts on “Managed vs Unmanaged Switch: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The comprehensive overview of unmanaged switches in the article emphasizes their simplicity and basic plug-and-play operation, offering insights into their suitability for small office networks and similar environments.

    • Absolutely, Jamie92. The article effectively delineates the straightforward nature of unmanaged switches and their applicability in specific network contexts.

  2. The article’s detailed comparison of managed and unmanaged switches equips readers with the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions based on the specific functional and operational characteristics of these network devices.

    • Well-stated, Nadams. The article provides an insightful analysis of the distinct features and utilities of managed and unmanaged switches, guiding readers towards effective network hardware choices.

  3. The article provides clear and concise explanations of managed and unmanaged switches, allowing readers to grasp the fundamental distinctions between the two types of network hardware.

  4. The article does a great job of explaining the security benefits of managed switches and the basic security levels of unmanaged switches, helping readers understand the significance of security in network management.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Natalie75. The article effectively presents the security differences and considerations associated with managed and unmanaged switches.

    • Absolutely, Natalie75. Understanding the security capabilities of each type of switch is crucial in ensuring the protection of network data and processes.

  5. The article effectively highlights the advantages of using managed switches in large networks with high traffic, and the suitability of unmanaged switches for smaller networks.

    • Indeed, Gray Scott. It’s crucial to understand the corresponding functions, performance, and security levels of each type of switch to make an informed decision.

  6. The comparison table provided in the article facilitates an easy understanding of the distinctions between managed and unmanaged switches based on their functions, performance, security, cost, and usage.

    • Istevens, I agree. The comparison table is a valuable resource for anyone looking to comprehend the differences and make a well-informed decision.

  7. The comparisons between managed and unmanaged switches in the article allow for a comprehensive assessment of their functions, security, and cost, aiding in decision-making for network implementation.

    • Absolutely, Bharris. The detailed analysis of the features and attributes of both types of switches facilitates informed choices regarding their deployment in different network environments.

    • I concur, Bharris. The article serves as a valuable resource for understanding the practical implications of using managed and unmanaged switches in diverse networking scenarios.

  8. The article offers a detailed insight into the functionalities and capabilities of managed switches, particularly in terms of bandwidth allocation, redundancy, and protocol support.

    • Well said, Butler Linda. Understanding the specific advantages and features of managed switches is essential for optimizing network performance and stability.

  9. The detailed descriptions of managed switches and their associated protocols, such as RSTP and VLANs, enable readers to appreciate the advanced functionalities and customizability of these network devices.

    • Indeed, Kreynolds. Understanding the sophisticated features and management capabilities of managed switches is essential in optimizing network performance and ensuring robust functionality.

    • Well put, Kreynolds. The article effectively highlights the technical aspects and operational benefits of managed switches in modern network infrastructures.

  10. This article provides a comprehensive understanding of the differences between a managed and unmanaged switch, as well as their specific uses and benefits.

    • I agree, Aaron77. It’s important to weigh the functionality, performance, security, cost, and usage of both types of switches before making a decision.

    • Yes, the article also does a good job of explaining the specific features and benefits of managed switches, as well as the limitations of unmanaged switches.


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