In the early days of our home network (we’re talking a network behind MS Proxy 2.0 connecting to the Internet via bonded dialup) I went through a great many switches. Belkin, Netgear, D-Link, several Linksys, and probably others I don’t even remember. All of them had a relatively short lifespan, and even when they did work, they were plagued by reboots, hangs, dead ports, and the like.
I eventually convinced myself that the “consumer grade” switch was just too low quality for my needs – OK, for my demands – and that I would need to take at least a small step up in quality if I wanted anything resembling consistent uptime.
I was a big fan of using HP network gear at work, so I took my small step up in the form of the HP ProCurve Switch 408. It was an unmanaged 8-port 10/100 switch that offered half-/full-duplex 10/100 auto-sensing and ProCurve Auto-MDIX on every port. It’s small, elegant, and ran my home (wired) LAN for over 5 years. In that time it never had any issue that I was aware of. It restored my faith in small switches. I was beginning to think they had a finite lifespan based on the number of packets.
Obviously 10/100 is enough for a home network. Last time I counted we only had 23 nodes (most of them wireless), and our data traffic has mostly been limited to web browsing, and hosting our personal e-mail and web sites.
However, things are starting to change. Between the four of us, we use Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube at least a few times a week. We occasionally use Skype. It seems everyone who comes over has an iPad, laptop, or WiFi enabled game or device. So, I thought it was time to get something with a little manageability. I think I found what I’m looking for in the Netgear Gigabit GS108T-200NAS 8 port switch. Very similar in size to the ProCurve, with a featureset way too long for home needs. In other words – perfect. The unit comes with web-based management, 8 10/100/1000 Mbps ports, jumbo frame support, port trunking capability, QoS, VLANs, PoE, traffic prioritization, port monitoring, SNMP support, NTP support, port authentication, ACL filtering – you get the point. I picked it up from Amazon.com for $90.00, and I’ve been playing with it for an hour and am already impressed.
Of course I only get 6 MB from my horrible ISP (Cox) on a good day, so I’m basically using my 1000 MB throughput to travel the 6 feet from my workstation to my DNS server. My old switch was hardly a bottleneck, but I am liking the new switch.
So, I’m back to “consumer” grade gear. Now to wait and see if it lasts more than 6 months. I’ll keep everyone posted…