Can you connect a managed and unmanaged switch?
Managed and unmanaged are two very different forms of network switches. Connecting and bringing them on the same platform is always doubtful because the features and their working models are at two ends. But, users always try this combination for multiple benefits.
In this post, we will try to answer this question. But, before that, we will explain managed and unmanaged switches briefly.
Considered “smart switches”, the managed switches bring a high level of intelligence to the network. As the name suggests, it’s possible to manage, configure, monitor, and troubleshoot issues with your network using managed switches. One of the distinctive features of managed switches is that every switch has its own IP address for identification and addressing. Using managed switches, you can choose ideal operating parameters for the ports of your network.
Managed switches provide a layer of security, monitoring, and controlling network events, shutting down detected threats, preventing unauthorized access, and encrypting communication. Other than this, the switches feature built-in redundancy, duplicating the data and recovering it easily if a device or network fails.
Use of managed switches
If you require a response time of milliseconds, the managed switches are for you. The managed switches are suitable for organizations that manage and troubleshoot their network remotely and securely as the switches allow the network managers to reach optimal network performance and reliability.
You can use managed switches on any network or a segment of a network where you want to monitor and control traffic. You can have complete control of data, bandwidth, and traffic control in whichever network you use the managed switches.
Unlike managed switches, unmanaged switches serve only one purpose. They provide Ethernet devices with network connections, helping them to communicate with one another. These switches don’t offer intelligence like managed switches; they only add additional ports to your networks and this is why they are known as “the man in the middle”. They are not even visible in the network infrastructure.
As there is configuration or setup required, you cannot control traffic using unmanaged switches. They are simple plug-and-play. In most cases, unmanaged switches are deployed.
In simple words, unmanaged switches don’t offer features like managed switches, so they are inexpensive. If you want features and are not worried about cost, consider managed switches only.
Read about: How Can I Set Up a Dell Managed Switch?
Use of unmanaged switches
Mostly, unmanaged switches are used to connect edge devices on network spurs or a small stand-alone network with only a few components. If you want to simplify the installation of wireless access points and IP-based surveillance cameras in your business network, you should choose unmanaged switches.
Other than this, unmanaged switches are recommended for homes, and small businesses or to add temporary workgroups to larger networks.
Combination of managed and unmanaged switches
Unmanaged switches use a standard configuration, while managed switches provide add-ons on top of the configuration allowance. If you are using unmanaged switches, you cannot change them. They are functional only to an extent of establishing a network, with no or little technical help in setting up the network.
With managed switches, you get tools to monitor, configure and improve the performance of the network, ensuring stability and consistency.
This means you cannot combine unmanaged switches with managed switches but can combine managed switches with unmanaged switches. It’s a very tricky situation.
As managed switches allow configuration flexibility, their combination with unmanaged switches is possible. If you operate the managed switch in “Open mode” having no configuration set up, the device will be set up to the default VLAN. The default VLAN means all the ports are members of the default VLAN.
Default VLAN with ports allows easy connection or combination with unmanaged switches. You don’t have to make further changes to your network infrastructure. But, everything depends on the network design and recruitment of your organization.
Because of this reason, experts prefer investing in managed switches. Whenever required, you can change the configuration and allow a combination of unmanaged switches. You can plan the section of your network you want to meet specific networking needs.
The story is not the same for all managed switches. So, you should confirm this feature before investing.
Is it good to combine managed and unmanaged switches?
Combining managed and unmanaged switches means one default VLAN across both switches with some additional configuration for unmanaged switches. If this on VLAN generates a lot of traffic, the bandwidth could become a problem for you. So, it’s better to spread the VLAN across switches and avoid any bandwidth issues.
What more should you know about combining managed and unmanaged switches?
As already mentioned, combining managed and switches is a bit tricky as they function differently. But, if you are using managed switches and want to combine them with unmanaged switches for any reason, you should seek help from IT experts. You should do as they say because of the proper combination and the best network infrastructure in your organization.