|Computer Networking FAQ #11|
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Q. "What is the difference between a hub and a switch? Which one is better for my network?"A. A switch is effectively a higher-performance alternative to a hub. This article describes hubs in more detail. People tend to benefit from a switch over a hub if their home network has four or more computers, or if they want to use their home network for applications that generate significant amounts of network traffic, like multiplayer games or heavy music file sharing. In most other cases, home networkers will not notice an appreciable difference between a hub and switch (hubs do cost slightly less)... (see below)
... . Technically speaking, hubs operate using a broadcast model and switches operate using a virtual circuit model. When four computers are connected to a hub, for example, and two of those computers communicate with each other, hubs simply pass through all network traffic to each of the four computers. Switches, on the other hand, are capable of determining the destination of each individual traffic element (such as an Ethernet frame) and selectively forwarding data to the one computer that actually needs it. By generating less network traffic in delivering messages, a switch performs better than a hub on busy networks.