Hub Vs Switch: Key Differences Between Hub And Switch

This tutorial explains the differences between Network Hub VS Network Switch. Understand the differences along with working principles, applications, demerits, etc:

In our previous tutorials, we had already discussed in detail the working, configuration, and set-up of switches with the help of the different examples in the networking system.

But we have not understood the importance and role of hubs in the communication system.

Here we will cover the working of network hubs and then will compare the various aspects of working principles and other features of difference between hubs and switches with examples.

Hub Vs Switch – Explore Now

Network Hub VS Network Switch (1)

Understanding Hub

A Hub works on the first layer which is the physical layer of the ISO-OSI Reference layer of a computer networking system. It is a network component that permits you to associate numerous PCs, desktops, and laptops to the network generally for LAN networks.

A hub has numerous ports and when a data packet lands on the ports, it sends it to every other port without gaining the knowledge of its destined port. Hub works like a typical connection point for gadgets in a network.

Network Hub connectivity

Website: HUB

Kinds of HUB

The following are three kinds of Hub:

  • Active Hub: Active hubs have the 3R feature of regeneration, re-amplification, and retiming the weak signals that contain the data packets. They are additionally utilized as an expansion for at least two nodes. The active hubs are also known as multiport repeaters.
  • Passive Hub: These are connected to other devices in a star topology. These don’t perform the regeneration of incoming electrical signals before broadcasting them into the network. These also have limitations on the media distance to which the signals can be transmitted.
  • Intelligent Hubs: These are a type of active hubs but have additional features like network monitoring, provision of different data rates on ports, performing switching operations, etc.

Understanding Switch

A Network switch interfaces with different devices on a solitary PC network. It is utilized to route data in the form of frames and packets to send over networks by using the routing table. Thus, it is considered a smart device. Since the method involved with connecting networking devices is also known as bridging, switches are also known as bridging devices.

Types of Switch

  • Modular switches: These switches permit you to expand modules as per the network requirements, thus incorporating the flexibility to make changes. The kind of additional modules that the switch will incorporate are firewalls, surplus interfaces, additional power backup, and fans.
  • Fixed-Configuration Ethernet switches: These have a fixed number of ports and interfaces which can’t be altered. These are further categorized into layer-2 and layer-3 managed switches, smart switches, and unmanaged switches.

Suggested Reading =>Difference Between Layer 2 and Layer 3 Switches

#1) Smart Switches

It offers QoS management, NMS management, security management, and network management features. It also supports the access guardian feature. It supports the 802.1q standards for security.

Smart switches can divide a large network into smaller VLAN groups for simplified switching. These are suitable for simplified large networks.

#2) Unmanaged Switches

For unmanaged switches, we can’t make any configuration changes as they are designed with a pre-defined configuration and will be used as they are available with us. These are not widely used and are used just for limited LAN connectivity, as a campus and home network.

Unmanaged switches also have features like PoE, QoS management, security management, and loop detection. But the set configuration and the number of ports and interfaces defined can’t be altered.

#3) Layer-2 and Layer-3 managed switches

These are generally deployed on core networks and support both layer-2 and layer-3 IP routing. Managed to switch provisions of the data plane, control plane, and management plane security with backbone protection.

They are incorporated with other features, also like dynamic ARP resolution, IPV4 and IPV6 DHCP snooping, and web-management authentication processes like AAA, IPsec, RADIUS, etc.

It also supports L3 redundancy by deploying a VRRP protocol (virtual router redundancy). Thus, more VLAN sub-networks can be created and these switches are used to build large and complex networks.

For example, ZTE ZXT40G, and ZXT64G are examples of managed switches.

Difference Between Hub and Switch: Tabular Format

Basis of comparisonHubSwitch
DefinitionIt is a network connecting device which connects different PCs or laptops on one network, usually LAN and it broadcast the data signals to every port in the network.It is also a network connecting the device with the intelligence. It utilizes ARP (address resolution protocol) to resolve the destination MAC address (physical address) of the destined device.
LayerIt works on the physical layer of the ISO-OSI reference model and doesn’t have any inbuilt intelligence.It works on the physical, data-link, and network layer of the ISO-OSI reference model and maintains the routing table to forward and route the data packet to the desired destination path.
Mode of Signal/Data TransmissionElectrical signals.It supports both Data Frames and data packets modes of data transmission.
PortSerial ports like 8, 16, 12, and 24.It is having a multi-port and multi bridge-like 24/48. 48. 24/16 ports etc. The gigabit Ethernet LAN switch will have 10GBase T ports.
Transmission ModeHub works in half-duplex transmission mode.It works in both half and full-duplex transmission modes.
Physical connectivityHubs are equipped with Ethernet, USB, firewire, and wireless connections. In general, the Ethernet connection is used for physical connectivity with other devices.The physical connectivity between the switches and the end devices is via the Ethernet cable, console cable, fiber cable, etc. The connection can be 10Gbps and 100Gbps etc. On the other hand, the connectivity between the two switches in a network can be physical or Virtual. (Virtually connected through a VLAN port).
SecurityIt doesn’t support STP of link management and other security protocols. Thus it is not capable of handling virus attacks and network threats.The smart switches can detect and eliminate the network threats in a switch and provide the switch data protection and control. The spanning tree protocol (STP) is a link management protocol that is used to manage network switches. Other than this switches also use security protocols like SSH, SFTP, IPSec, etc.
PlacementNetwork hubs operate on the physical layer and are building blocks of the networks. Thus placed at the starting of the network to gather raw information from various network elements and connect them. The hub will act as a point of interconnect for the Laptop, PC, modem, printer, etc.For the layer-2 operation, the switch is placed after the modem and before the router in the networking system. But for layer-3 operation, it can also be placed after the router and can then further be connected to the core network (NOC servers, etc.). Physically the switch is placed on the top of the server access rack.

Working Principle – Hubs vs Switches


Hub internal digital Bus

  • Hub works on the physical layer of the ISO-OSI reference model and connects multiple devices like PCs, laptops, servers, and printers altogether on different ports of hubs. It will transmit the data received at one of the ports to all of its remaining ports without any conditions.
  • It doesn’t follow any policies to broadcast the data and works in half-duplex mode.
  • When more than one device is connected to a network hub it will start transmitting the data simultaneously, and the data frames will collide, sharing the same bandwidth. This causes network performance issues.
  • The switch overcomes this limitation, as each port has its own collision domain.
  • In the diagram below, Laptop A with MAC address, 0001:32e2:5ea9 behaves as a source device and sends the data packet for the destination PC A, with MAC: 0001:32e2:5ea4.
  • But as the hub doesn’t have the intelligence to forward the data to the destination port only, it will broadcast the information to all the ports and devices connected with the hub simultaneously.

Working Principle of Hub


Switch Working principle

  • The switches are active intelligent devices. They have the intelligence to route the data packets to the desired destination.
  • They utilize various protocols to resolve the destination client’s MAC address and IP address, like ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) and static routing algorithms.
  • As shown in the diagram above, the source laptop A, with MAC addresses. 0001:32e2:5ea9 send the data packet to the destination PC C with MAC, 0001:32ea:5ea6.
  • Currently, the node with the above MAC address will receive the data packet only as the switch maintains the MAC address table and entries for destination and source ports.
  • In this way, the switching will be fast and no collision will occur. Also, each port has its own dedicated bandwidth.

Feature Comparison – Switch vs Hub

Network Hubs:

  • Intelligent hubs support Ethernet, RJ-45, and USB ports.
  • Ethernet hubs support Power over Ethernet capabilities (PoE). This makes them compatible with PoE-supported Switches.
  • It has only one broadcast domain and one collision domain.
  • Suitable for LAN networks.
  • Cost-effective device.
  • It operates in the broadcast domain and shared domain.
  • It supports the speed of the Ethernet port up to 10Mbps only.
  • It uses electrical signals for the transmission of data.

Network Switch:

  • Support GUI-based interfaces to access and perform configuration changes.
  • It also supports console login with remote end login features
  • Reduced power consumption by using energy-efficient Ethernet (EEE) technology.
  • Work in Master-slave mode to provide backbone ring redundancy and link failure restoration.
  • Secure wireless connectivity.
  • Suitable for LAN and WAN networks.
  • Use advanced security protocols like UNP, MACsec, and AAA.
  • Supports full IP multi-cast switching.


The hubs are deployed to make small office networks and home networks and to broadcast the information on a large scale in an office network.

On the other hand, a networking switch assists you with dealing with the progression of information across the network. We can use it for LAN connectivity in small offices, universities, government offices, and hospitals to connect the administrator, office staff, and customers on one network.

Networking hubs are mostly used for connecting the PlayStation and other devices altogether for gaming consoles in LAN networks and for shared Internet scalability in the uplink. Switches can be used in Wide Area Networks (WAN) to connect network devices with the centralized server and for NOC operations.

Hubs are used in universities and health institution campuses to connect to the various servers and PCs on one platform and monitor the network. Switches can provide redundancy in the network. It also supports data storage and backup with huge capacity.

Further Reading => List of the Best Network Administrator Tools to Look For

Demerits – Networking Switch vs Hub

The Virtual LAN (VLAN) network can’t be created in the hub. Thus, connecting more and more end devices to the hub will slow down its performance as it will start to collect and broadcast the information from all the resources simultaneously in the same instance. This results in a collision domain.

The hub doesn’t support any security protocols. It only works on the physical layer and doesn’t support any other layer of the ISO-OSI reference model. Also, doesn’t support the dedicated bandwidth for each network device connected.

Hubs don’t utilize any routing protocols to resolve the destination address and work in passive mode only.

The switches are not suitable for large WAN networks. The packet switching performance is a bit slower than that of a router, but it is faster than the Hub. Not suitable for complex networks, as multiple VLAN routings will be required.


We have explored and understood the basic working principles and purposes of using network hubs and network switches in the computer networking system.

We have also analyzed the difference between a Hub vs Switch based on the application, modes of operation, types, merits, demerits, and features.