When looking at the descriptions of Ethernet switches, it will be seen that some of them are referred to as unmanaged switches, whereas others are referred to as being managed switches. When selecting an Ethernet switch it is important to select the required type.
- Unmanaged switches: An unmanaged network switch is the most common form of Ethernet switch. This type of Ethernet switch is design to be simply plugged into the network and then operate without any manual configuration. Unmanaged switches are typically for basic connectivity and they are often used in home or small office networks or wherever a few more Ethernet ports are needed, at a desk, in a lab, in a conference room, etc.
- Managed switches: Managed switches give greater security with more features and flexibility because they can be configured to custom-fit the network. With this greater control, it is possible to better protect the network and improve the quality of service for those who access the network. The traffic can be prioritized so that the available bandwidth, is allocated to a given application in the best way.
There are also a type of switch referred to as an industrial switch. They are typically used for industrial control, and similar applications. They are called industrial switches because they are used within industrial environments requiring a high level of robustness and tolerance of wide temperature ranges etc,. In addition to this industrial switches feature carrier grade Ethernet performance because industrial and production environments need to have very high reliability in view of the costs of any disruption.