What are some reasons to want better than normal switches for home/personal use?

Fryguy8

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So, I'm in a situation where I might need to buy another switch. My current baseline for switches is Netgear Prosafe; I've had good luck with them, they support jumbo frames, etc.

For a home environment, is there any reason to consider getting anything else other than a prosafe (or something of similar quality, like a procurve).

Is something like LACP usable in a home environment to exceed gigabit on a reasonable (< $1000) budget?

What about VLANs? What sort of practical use would they have in a home environment?

I'm looking at getting a fairly small switch ths time, but something that I can take along with me to a house when I decide to wire up every room in a house with cat6. I currently have a 5 port prosafe, and will likely be looking at something in the 8-12 port range.

If it's not obvious, I'm not a networking guy, so I have no interest in having testbeds or labs for the sole purpose of networking; although I wouldn't mind a little something to play with.

Any recommendations? Also, I use all intel gigE nics for any machine that matters in the house, if this matters at all (for vlan/lacp support).

Use case for lacp would be NFS between 2 1 server and 1-2 clients.
 

Skud

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The way I think of it is that the switch is the centerpiece of your network and should be a reliable part with a good set of features you need and will use. If you don't need any manageability and just need to "connect this PC to that PC" at home then there are some good low cost switches out there. The metal cased 5 and 8 port gigabit Netgear units are good.

However, once you get into a switch where you need additional features then not all are created equal. Here you will need to spend some money because not only do you need a switch with the necessary features but you need to make sure the switch (in no particular order):

1) Does all that you wish
2) Easy to manage
3) Implements your requirements properly (i.e. doesn't implement a feature half-assed)
4) Is reliable

It's a lot like buying a car. You pay more to move up to a BMW or Audi from a Kia, but you want to spend that little extra to make purchasing the BMW worthwhile.

Myself, I had a Dell 2724 24 port gigabit switch and it served me well for almost five years. However, once I started delving into the VLANs a bit more I found it didn't stack up (no pun intended). It was also a bit noisier than I liked.

Currently, I've been using a D-Link DGS-3200-10 10 port fully managed layer 2 switch. It's fan-less and does all that I need. There is support for VLANs, LACP, NAP, 802.1x auth, 2 x SFP ports, port security, etc. It was only ~$250 or so. I would highly recommend it.

It sounds to me like you would do well with a "smart switch" (not dumb, but not quite layer 2) with basic features, but give the D-Link a look..

Riley
 

Adam

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Im a netgear fan myself in the business world... at home, im using netgear, but not the prosafe line (its a bit expensive for a home user)... i have a simple 5 port gigabit switch...

if i had a rack id def go prosafe line... i like them, lifetime warranty, never had one fail.

no need to go higher then prosafe i'd say, i mean what are you doing exactly at your house?

i never understood why guys go NUTS with their home networks, they use any piece of hardware they can find... why? whats the point? K.I.S.S. - keep it simple stupid and keep it quality, don't get a crappy router (well i have a linksys, sue me, its my home network, i have 3-4 damn machines)...
 

pissboy

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IIRC LACP will not improve bandwidth in a point to point situation. IE you will not see 2Gbps throughput between two machines just because they both show a 2Gbps network connection.

That being said, the people who demand XXX brand switches, WAPs, Routers, etc for their home use are just doing it because of one or more of these reasons: 1) they can 2)e-penis 3)they drank XXX company's marketing kool aid.

Personally I have a 10Gbase-CX4 or 20Gbit IP over IB link between my two servers depending on what I feel like toying with.
 

Skud

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no need to go higher then prosafe i'd say, i mean what are you doing exactly at your house?

i never understood why guys go NUTS with their home networks, they use any piece of hardware they can find... why? whats the point? K.I.S.S. - keep it simple stupid and keep it quality, don't get a crappy router (well i have a linksys, sue me, its my home network, i have 3-4 damn machines)...

That being said, the people who demand XXX brand switches, WAPs, Routers, etc for their home use are just doing it because of one or more of these reasons: 1) they can 2)e-penis 3)they drank XXX company's marketing kool aid.

Generally, I would agree.. However, there is always the advantage of knowledge and learning. I'm willing to bet that a great number of people who have a rack full of routers, switches, etc. for five PCs will have a much greater understanding of networking and how that equipment works.

For myself, I really don't *need* a fully-managed layer 2 switch. I could work just fine with a five port unit from best buy for $50 but, when it comes time to learning a new networking concept and/or trying to prove an implementation is possible then the "overkill" becomes necessary. I don't really need to have multiple VLANs, guest wireless on a separate SSID, a DMZ network, etc. But - once you understand how those concepts and features work then you can bring them into your professional life (if IT is what you do) and you can turn that effort and knowledge into income.

It depends if you have a passion for it or not.

Riley
 

mattjw916

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For professionals, a home network that is comprised of L3 managed switches, routers and firewalls actually is rather simple...

I use my home network to practice for exams, keep my skills current on protocols and such that I don't use everyday, and test out aspects of configurations that I may need to implement at work (I don't have a lab at work). Oddly enough I also use it to test and/or create problems people post here and try to solve them for fun. Another way to keep skills current. Epeen is not a factor since anyone can hit eBay and buy a pile of old routers, connect some cables, no shut the ports so the lights come on and take a picture.

At work I look at the same equipment all the time and for the most part it never has any issues so unless you are challenging yourself in some other way it is easy to stagnate.
 

epimetheus

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I generally agree with whats been said above, so I'll just add to that. VLANs are beginning to find a place in the home. IPTV, home surveillance, home automation, VOIP, etc., can all benefit from VLANs. Personally, I've got a VLAN for my computers and another for my Uverse IPTV. I'm thinking of adding a third for HDMI over IP. Is it necessary, heck no, but if you're interested in learning about networking, it fairly easy to start in the home. For hardware, I've got an eBay Dell 5324 and a HP 1800-24G (now discontinued).

I'd recommend the new HP 1810-24G for what you're looking to do, or possibly the 1810-8G if you want a lower port count.
 

aaronearles

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hmm hdmi over ip looks pretty cool, I hadn't heard of that until now. I'll second the vote for the 1800-24g, I just picked one up for $150 for the house I'm moving into next month, same deal I want seperate vlans for iptv and ip phones, and a few ports for my basement lab.
 

Valnar

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I'd recommend the new HP 1810-24G for what you're looking to do, or possibly the 1810-8G if you want a lower port count.
I recommend this switch as well. Not only for the decent features vs pricepoint, but because HP hardware is very good. I'd recommend almost any FastE switch to friends & family, but if the need a solid GigE switch that can handle wire speed, then the Netgear/Linksys crap falls short.

To the OP:

At the most basic level, vlans can help in a home environment, even if you don't want to learn anything past that. Here is are some examples why:

* Guest wireless or a DMZ for friends who you don't want to let on your network. Your firewall would need a third port too, or a trunk.

* A "Sandbox" vlan for trying out new software that may not play nice with others, or if you are visiting the shadier side of the Internet. Of course, VMware works good for this too.

* A separate vlan for VoIP if you use it in your house or with your provider. It can make it more reliable

* A separate vlan for video or streaming if you use the HDHomerun device, SageTV or other AV streaming devices on your home network.

Those last two points I need to explain for the uninitiated. While unlikely, it is *possible* to saturate your home network with enough TCP traffic (file copies between boxes, for instance) that would starve UDP traffic. UDP is frequently uses for video and voice and since it doesn't retransmit, it could be lost. If you are actually recording said video, that is a big deal. Layer 2 QoS/CoS is another way to do it, but that gets more involved that simply segregating it with a vlan.
 

aaronearles

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Another note about the 1800-24g, it's nice for home use because it's shallow and fanless for silent operation.
 

Deimos

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IIRC LACP will not improve bandwidth in a point to point situation. IE you will not see 2Gbps throughput between two machines just because they both show a 2Gbps network connection.

I don't fully agree, I think the main limitation is not the network but the PCs themselves, most spindle drives can barely keep up with a single GB link let alone 2.

Also, you have to consider the cabling, in my experience, better quality cable allows for more sustainable speeds, I went from patch leads I made myself (no way you can achieve CAT6 certification with home made cables) to proper component certified patch leads and solid core with spine fly leads and noticed a big difference in network performance.

A half decent managed switch (24 port gig) can be had for way less than $1k, I'm using an SMC L2 managed switch at home, you can pick up one for around $500 NZD, it supports everything you mentioned and performance is decent.
 

keenan

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I don't fully agree, I think the main limitation is not the network but the PCs themselves, most spindle drives can barely keep up with a single GB link let alone 2.
Ethernet guarantees packet ordering, therefore sessions between two PCs can't span two links since each interface has its own buffers etc. and ordering can't be guaranteed anymore. You can cheat and try to split traffic on different logical connections across different interfaces, but lots of gear doesn't support this and it still doesn't help the typical home use case of 'copy file from one box to another as fast as possible', regardless of HDD speed.

Also, you have to consider the cabling, in my experience, better quality cable allows for more sustainable speeds, I went from patch leads I made myself (no way you can achieve CAT6 certification with home made cables) to proper component certified patch leads and solid core with spine fly leads and noticed a big difference in network performance.
Unless you were having packet loss or errors, no you didn't. Ethernet operates at fixed speeds, and either works properly or doesn't.

A half decent managed switch (24 port gig) can be had for way less than $1k, I'm using an SMC L2 managed switch at home, you can pick up one for around $500 NZD, it supports everything you mentioned and performance is decent.

+1, but there's not much point if you don't plan on using any of the additional functionality. I definitely think VLANs can be useful to plenty of home users with lots of Ethernet devices, but you also need a VLAN-capable router/firewall of some kind. LACP might be useful to folks using lots of file sharing on several machines with a central server. Beyond that though I don't see much that would be useful beyond learning.
 

vectravl400

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For a home environment, is there any reason to consider getting anything else other than a prosafe (or something of similar quality, like a procurve).

Who on this forum actually needs a reason to buy better hardware? We want it to play with, test and figure stuff out. Just don't make the mistake of telling your wife that anything cheaper will do the trick and you'll be okay.

"Yes dear, I really do need a $600 24 port GB switch. No, the $200 model from Best Buy won't do vlans, trunking, jumbo frames or most importantly won't let me stream your Gilmore Girls in HD to any screen in the house."
 
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