How to Speed Up Your Existing Fast Ethernet Network
Fast Ethernet networks, in most cases, operate with shared bandwidth, which means that the network’s overall speed is spread out across all of the available computers (nodes). If you have a hub with 5 nodes attached to it, and the total bandwidth of the network is 100Mbps, then each computer receives 100/5, or 20Mbps, of bandwidth.
If you have only a small number of computers, shared bandwidth shouldn’t be a problem. However, you can imagine what spreading 100Mbps across 30 computers would be like. Even at Fast Ethernet speeds, the network could slow to a crawl during peak traffic periods.
The answer to the problem of shared bandwidth is a Fast Ethernet switch. A switch transforms a shared network into a switched network, where each computer receives access to the network at the maximum bandwidth speed. As an example, (with a switch installed) if you have five ports, each port receives 100Mbps access. Here are a couple of switches that we have used in small network environments.
This is a great small office switch from 3COM. The footprint isn’t that much larger than the one below it from Linksys.
This 5-Port switch from Linksys is small enough to fit on any small office desk.
Switches speed up network access because of their advanced addressing technology. In a shared network environment, data packets bounce around the network until they finally find their destination, which is not particularly efficient. A switch, on the other hand, will examine each data packet individually, and direct them only to their intended destinations. The difference between shared and switched networks is like the difference between a shotgun and a rifle. Switches not only can improve a Fast Ethernet network’s efficiency, but when used in conjunction with a 10BaseT network, it can reduce wasted bandwidth there as well. Sometimes the performance increases can be as high as 40%.
Switches are available in all shapes and sizes. Like hubs, they are available in both desktop versions all the way through rack mountable versions, all of which can be effortlessly integrated with both network adapters and hubs.
If your network demands optimum speed for streaming audio and video, multimedia, graphics, database or other intensive applications, the boost that switches provide might be well worth the purchase.
Need more information on Stacking, then see: “What is Stacking“.
Need information on Hubs, Switches, Bridges, then see: “Hubs, Switches and Bridges“.
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