By PowerBuy // 4 November 2013 // Related Categories: Tips

When our customers are deciding which type of switch is right for them we help them weigh a variety of factors. Careful planning before buying a switch can save you money.

Here are the key things to consider:

1. Number of ports

The number of ports is one of the biggest factors to consider. You will save money if you buy a switch that only supports the number of users that you employ today but keep in mind about your future growth plans.

An Ethernet switch usually has 5, 8, 10, 24, or 48 ports. Don’t forget to allow for any uplink port(s) which use you can use to connect one switch to another piece of networking equipment.

For a small network (up to 50 users) one switch might be sufficient, but if you run a large network you may have to invest in additional switches.

2. Speed

Does your network need to be fast with low latency? Do you need to transfer large volumes of data between devices? Performance demands on your switch will help you decide the type of switch that is right for you. Gigabit Ethernet is very common these days and for bigger networks you might consider 10GbE or more.

If you are building a large network you may have one or more switches acting as a "core" -- these switches will need to be fast and handle a fairly heavy traffic load. Usually, a high performance switch will work for a core switch. Access switches, where the individual users connect, will probably be slower than a core switch.

3. Routing requirements

Does your switch need to perform as a router as well? And if so, does it need to act as a dynamic router or static? Your routing requirements will usually dictate what series or line you need and they can affect pricing dramatically.

4. Power over Ethernet

Power over Ethernet (PoE) switches are powered by the Ethernet network and do not require a separate power source. Many switches will not support full PoE/PoE+ on all ports so be careful to select the right configuration for your needs. For areas with high-power needs for VoIP phones or wireless access points make sure you evaluate the maximum power draw per device and the estimated number of devices.

5. Management

Unmanaged switches have no control panel but managed switches have one or more methods to modify the operation of the switch. The more you pay the more management options are available. On a larger network ideally you should find a switch solution that can be managed within the framework of your existing tools. Consider other switches and networking equipment that are already in use and if these systems are already managed and understood by the technical staff then find a comparable platform.

6. Warranty

The base warranty offered by the manufacturer is usually a reflection of the quality of the product. Ideally you want a lifetime warranty but 3-year warranty would be a minimum requirement. If the switch is mission-critical to your network then look for 24x7 support and fast replacement of faulty units.

Want to find out which switch is best for your business? Please give us a call.

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