Difference between a Managed and an Unmanaged Switch

When a network is being designed, the "network switch" that is employed is considered to be the "brain" of the network. The networking hardware ensures that all of the devices remain linked to one another at all times. Therefore, it is essential to select and set up an ideal network switch.

Switches can vary in both their physical dimensions and the number of ports that they offer. They can have a maximum of forty-eight ports between them. Two of the most prevalent types of switches are managed and unmanaged switches.

What is a Managed Switch?

Managed switches are famous for their redundancy, in addition to the quality of service that they offer, thanks to their built-in features. It allows for a greater value of bandwidth to be allocated. This greater bandwidth ensures that the IP data reaches the designated destinations easily and without any interruptions, and that it gets the sensor data without any problems. The controlled switches include embedded agents that provide support for the simple network management protocol.

Managed switches come equipped with a command-line interface, which may be accessed via the serial console. It is possible to access it in a number of different ways, including through a serial console, telnet, and a secure shell. They are first categorized into the various groupings that they are, and then controlled.

Managed switches also offer the customers various extra protocols, such as RSTP, to make use of. This protocol not only permits an alternative route for cable but also stops looping, which is a practice that can lead to faults in a network.

Managed switches offer redundancy in order to cut down on the amount of unplanned downtime. In addition to its sophisticated filtering and multicasting techniques, it also possesses several extremely useful features such as VLANs and LACP. These multicast algorithms assist in prioritizing, splitting, and structuring a filter that is capable of a high processing speed. It also gives you the ability to adjust the settings and configurations, which enables you to tailor it to your own requirements.

What is an Unmanaged Switch?

Unmanaged switches are the most straightforward types of switches because they do not support remote configuration and instead rely on plug-and-play functionality. They do not have any additional functionality such as remote configuration or monitoring. In spite of these restrictions, some switches have the ability to be monitored locally, and they can also be configured using LED indicators and DIP switches in some cases. They don't need any kind of complicated setting up at all.

Unmanaged switches ensure that the Ethernet devices can have consistent connectivity with one another. It not only supplies the infrastructure for the network, but also transfers the information from one end to the other. Because they have their own configuration, it is not possible for the user to modify it or make any other kinds of changes to it.

Unmanaged switches are simple to install and can be installed in a variety of ways, including on a desktop or an assault. As a result, they have a lower price point in comparison. The fact that it does not support IGMP is a disadvantage, as is the fact that it treats multicast traffic the same as broadcast traffic and replies in the same way to both types of traffic.

Similarities between Managed and Unmanaged Switch

Following are some of the notable similarities between managed and unmanaged switches −

  • Multiple devices that are linked to the network are able to communicate with one another using either the Managed Switch or the Unmanaged Switch.

  • Ethernet can be used to link unmanaged switches to one another as well as to other types of switches, including managed switches. Managed switches can connect to other types of switches, including unmanaged switches.

  • Both types of switches are produced by manufacturers, including CISCO, Dell, D-Link, and Netgear, among others.

Difference between Managed and Unmanaged Switch

The following table highlights the major differences between a managed and an unmanaged switch −

Basis of ComparisonManaged SwitchUnmanaged Switch
PerformanceWhen using a controlled switch, the user is able to prioritise the channels, which ultimately results in better performance.An unmanaged switch has all of its choices preprogrammed and does not require any configuration on your part because it does not have a management system. It comes preinstalle with a QoS service that boosts its overall performance.
SecurityManaged switches provide a number of benefits to network security. It is able to keep an eye on and control the process of putting threats in place,guard the data, and look after the management strategy.Unmanaged switches do not have their own dedicated security mechanism to provide protection. They have a very low feeling of security and relatively few possessions. However, it is not possible to meddle with the network because it also functions as a port that can be locked.
UsageManaged switches are typically deployed in computer networks that support a significant number of users.In networks with a limited number of users, unmanaged switches are typically deployed.
FunctionA managed switch is a type of network switch that can be controlled, configured, and monitored. This type of switch also gives you the ability to regulate the traffic on a local area network (LAN).When establishing connections with Ethernet devices that have a specific configuration, an unmanaged switch is the device that is used. It does not let any tweaks or alterations of any kind to be made on your end.
UsageManaged switches are typically deployed in computer networks that support a significant number of users.In networks with a limited number of users, unmanaged switches are typically deployed.
CostManaged switches are costly.In comparison, unmanaged switches are less expensive.


It is critical that you select the right kind of switch for your network. Your best bet is to seek the assistance of a network manager or a technician who can provide you with the most reliable guidance in this matter.

An unmanaged switch would be able to complete the task at hand and would be enough for use by sole proprietors, employees of startups, and independent contractors.

If there are so many people using the network that it is impossible to keep track of them all, then the best option would be to go with a switch that is easy to administer.

Before deciding on a switch, one must take into consideration not just its size and number of users, which are often thought to be the most important factors, but also its characteristics.

Updated on: 22-Jul-2022

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