Managed Ethernet Switches: What gets managed?

I’m looking at upgrading my network setup and I have noticed that there are managed and unmanaged ethernet switches available. I’m assuming that a managed switch I can possibly link aggregate which I was considering doing when I hook up a NAS on my network. Network traffic shaping? I know the management probably depends on the features available on the switch I purchase but what sort of management options are usually available on consumer grade switches. What options should I be looking for in a managed switch?

In the past I have gone to my local store and purchased a switch with the required amount of ports that I needed and picked a brand that I trusted. I want to be more thoughtful this time around.

Thanks.

Paul

Hi Paul,

Managed switches usually means that the switch is able to divide the network into vlans and segment ones network.
Link Aggregation is also most likely part of the functionality.
Consumer switches is mostly managed by a webgui.

Network traffic shaping isn’t really done on those.
There might be a voip setting which gives that network priority over other in case of lack of resources.

What are your goals with the switch? One network to all your devices and then a link aggregation to your nas?

Yes. That is at least what I going to do first. My son has complained about network speed from time to time and it made me realize that I haven’t updated my network configuration in years. I have an ARRIS TG1672 cable modem that is providing all the Wifi for the network. And I have been making do with what that is providing. Since we have cable, telephone and internet provided by the local cable company, I don’t think there is a lot of choice about replacing the cable modem. At least I couldn’t find much of a selection.

Here are my plans.

  1. Update/upgrade to the 100Mbits down plan from the cable company. Currently as 30Mbits down. (legacy plan)
  2. Get a wireless router and set the ARRIS into bridge mode.
  3. Possibly look into powerline connections to what is going to be my home office.
  4. Add a NAS. Currently I’m not using any of the ethernet ports on the ARRIS (has 4). Adding more devices to the network that would benefit from a wired connection would also help congestion on the wifi network.

Devices on the network.
5 iphones - oldest is a iphone 6 or 6s
4 ipads - oldest is a ipad mini. (not mini 2)
1 imac - 2012
3 MBP - oldest is 2012
7 game systems - at most two are used as the same time. I’m looking at the list of network devices in remote desktop and see 7 devices that are not mac/ios related. The only network devices that could be one the system are game consoles.

I am not confident a managed switch is the best next step for you. If you feel up to changing network settings I would instead recommend buying a good router and placing that right ‘behind’ the cable company’s device.

In short you would put the cable modem into “pass through” mode or set it so the router is DMZ’d for all traffic. Then you have all devices (Ethernet or WiFi) connect to the router.

This is the set up I’ve used for several years now with good success. You can most likely find instructions for how to set this up with your cable company’s modem by doing a search for the providers name and the model of your modem.

Currently you are using 100% wireless for your network?

Thanks Ron. I wasn’t set on “having” to get a managed switch. I was just curious if it would make sense. I looked at the support documents on my cable providers website and it doesn’t seem too difficult to set the ARRIS to passthrough/bridge mode/DMZ’d mode. Hopefully I won’t have to talk to tech support. As getting past level 1 support can be “fun”

  1. Update/upgrade to the 100Mbits down plan from the cable company. Currently as 30Mbits down. (legacy plan)

Judging by the number of devices I would say that is a rather good idea.

  1. Get a wireless router and set the ARRIS into bridge mode.

Also a good idea. How is the coverage at your home? And how large an area?

  1. Possibly look into powerline connections to what is going to be my home office.

If you don’t want to or can’t pull a cable this is a feasible solution.

  1. Add a NAS. Currently I’m not using any of the ethernet ports on the ARRIS (has 4). Adding more devices to the network that would benefit from a wired connection would also help congestion on the wifi network.

Do you have the need for a NAS?
And yes. Give as many devices a wired connection as possible.
It will ease the pressure on the wifi as you mentioned.

Yes, I figure that is part of the issue. I’ve got some devices 802.11ac capable and some that aren’t. And also my wife doesn’t want wires everywhere. :slight_smile:

Arendtsen,

Home coverage 1500 Square Ft. A 3 floors. (basement, 1st, 2nd.) Cable comes in on the first floor. Wifi coverage is okay in most spots of the house. Could be better in corners of the 2nd floor and down in the basement.

Powerline - Home office is going to be on the second floor. Pulling cables isn’t a possibility. Also my wife doesn’t want cables all over the place on the first floor. iMac is the closest to the cable modem at the moment. So I could run an ethernet cable directly.

NAS - Do i have a need. Sort of. I have my MBP backed up and the Imac backed up regularly. I would like to centralize the backups and my wife has maybe over 100 movies on DVD so I figure if I setup a PLEX media server on the NAS that might get her to OK the purchase of the NAS. I would like to start doing screencasts/demos/trainings and I always running low of disk space on my computers. I don’t want to start carrying around multiple portable drives that have my raw files.

Okay.
I would suggest the following:

Ethernet over powerline from the first floor to both basement and 2nd floor.
Then a small unmanaged switch at each floor as there is no need for a managed switch.

I would also deactivate wifi on the cablemodem and look at these access points combined with this.
One access point on 2nd floor and one in the basement.
This should give you a coverage that spans all three floors and balance the wifi load over two access points.

The NAS makes perfect sense in this case.
I would put it near one of the switches if possible.

My thinking wasn’t far different from what you suggested. The NAS was going to go to the switch nearest the cable modem. I was thinking about the Synology RT2600 connected to the cable modem and use that to provide wifi. The current strength in the basement and 2nd floor corners isn’t too bad. I was hoping to get by with not having to go mesh at the start. For the mesh wifi points I noticed that you linked to the Unfi brand equipment, any particular reason you like those over for instance EERO? Do you have a preference for powerline devices and ethernet switches?

I feel better about what I was planning after seeing your recommendation as it was so close to mine I wasn’t too far wrong. :slight_smile:

Unifi would give you more options to grow and get more complex if you need to. For switching eh something this simple and small I don’t think it matters much. My baseline is netgear. But if you want to stay all unifi that might be a good way to go.

1 Like

I have the Unifi brand at home so I know it pretty well. :slight_smile:
And do notice the access points isn’t the mesh version.
But I have heard that those should be very nice to work with as well.

Regarding the powerline and ethernet switches I can’t really say.
I would look at the powerline equipment and make sure how it handles shifting phases or interference from say a stove or a microwave.
My experience with ethernet switches is all of those I have tried they just do there work.
All though if they are more than medium pressured they might be pushed beyond there limits.

I would say you had the right ideas :slight_smile:

Arendtsen, I started looking at the Unfi links from your earlier post. The access points seem straight forward to understand. The Cloud-key i’m still trying to get my head around. Does this device logically separate my devices/network from the internet and also provide the ability to remote in to my home network?

Here is what I’m thinking about as a configuration with the model you have suggested.

Cable modem —> synology router --> Cloud Key (plugged into one port of the synology router) --> ethernet switch on another router port --> powerlinc adapter on 3rd router port. Powerlinc adapters on other floors to ethernet switches. --> Unfi access points off each floor’s ethernet switch. Other devices connected as necessary.

I thinking I could have just the ethernet switch connected to the synology router and everything connecting to that.

Thanks for all your assistance.

It sounds like you are a good candidate for mesh routers. In any case I hope your experience with power line adapters is better than mine. I don’t remember what kind I tried but the performance was terrible.

BTW I don’t think you need to bother with a managed switch.

Arendtsen, I started looking at the Unfi links from your earlier post. The access points seem straight forward to understand. The Cloud-key i’m still trying to get my head around. Does this device logically separate my devices/network from the internet and also provide the ability to remote in to my home network?

The Cloud-key is to manage the access-points.
They need a one off installations though the cloud-key.
But after that installation you do have the ability of managing and watching how well the access points perform.
Should you then choose to change the router to a USG or upgrade to the Unifi switches the cloud-key can manage them as well… and provide you with a lot of statistics.
You could also just install the controller software in a virtual machine on your imac and use that to configure the access points. After that then just shutdown the virtual machine and watch the access-points work.
It does not provide any remote access to your network.

Cable modem —> synology router --> Cloud Key (plugged into one port of the synology router) --> ethernet switch on another router port --> powerlinc adapter on 3rd router port. Powerlinc adapters on other floors to ethernet switches. --> Unfi access points off each floor’s ethernet switch. Other devices connected as necessary.

I thinking I could have just the ethernet switch connected to the synology router and everything connecting to that.

You are right. You can do that.
Just put the cloud-key in the switch.

1 Like

These looked promising. D-Link PowerLine AV2 1000 Gigabit starter kit - Locally I found them for $50. If it causes issues, I will look for another solution.

Thanks for the clarification.

1 Like

test speed across the link after installing it. I bought a cheaper power line kit and I think it was a bit slower.

I would agree. Also I figured some of it was marketing fluff. I think the adapters have gigabit Ethernet in them where others might not.