A managed switch is a network device that allows for greater control and management of devices on the network. Managed switches typically offer more features and options than unmanaged switches, such as port mirroring, VLANs, QoS, and PoE. They also usually require a higher level of knowledge to operate.
Unmanaged switches are simpler devices that do not offer the same level of control or management as managed switches. They are ideal for home or small office networks where ease of use is more critical than advanced features. These switches are also less expensive than managed switches.
The primary purpose of a managed switch is to provide greater control and management over devices on the network. This can include features like port mirroring, VLANs, QoS, and PoE. The increased functionality generally means they are more expensive than unmanaged switches.
Managed switches handle tasks like packet forwarding according to the information stored in their local address tables. These switches do this by broadcasting traffic out all ports at the same time when multiple devices are sending data to busy or congested destinations. This is known as flooding. While they may be less expensive, these switches typically have limited features for network management and control, such as link aggregation (the ability to combine bandwidth from two or more ports into a single logical channel) or VLANs (virtual LANs that allow you to segment parts of your network).
The primary purpose of an unmanaged switch is the ease of use and affordability. They are ideal for home or small office networks where ease of use is more important than the advanced features of a managed switch. Because these switches offer less control and management, they typically cost less than managed switches.