The Exhibitor Manual – Internet Services Part II

Ok- Last week I mentioned that we would focus on one part of the Local Area Network or LAN.  It was number 4, the hub or switch that connects all the devices together on the LAN.

I remember when I was forever confused as to the difference between a hub, a switch, and router. I mean they all looked the same. Hey, anybody else out there confused? I mean, you go to the store and you see them next to each other and never know which one to buy.

So what is the difference between a hub, a switch, and a router? Ok, so here is the short version. When using a hub, information is broadcast to every one of its ports every time. It doesn’t matter that the information only needs to get to one port – like from the computer to a printer. The hub has no way of identifying which port the information should go to. By sending it to every port the hub guarantees that it will get where it needs to go.

This puts a lot of traffic on the LAN or network and can slow things down – big time. So the next level up would be a switch. Now a switch will identify the MAC addresses of all the devices connected to it. MAC just means “Media Access Control”. Knowing these addresses, a switch can identify which device is on which port. So when information comes into the switch, it knows exactly which port to send it to. So regardless of the number of PCs transmitting, users will always have more bandwidth since a switch generates less network traffic. This is why a switch is a much better choice than a hub on busy networks.

Now we have made it to the top – the router. Routers are used to connect multiple networks. Switches (and hubs) are not capable of joining multiple networks or sharing an Internet connection. A network with only switches or hubs must instead designate one computer as the gateway to the Internet and that computer must possess two network adapters for sharing – one for the LAN and another for the Internet which is a separate network or WAN. WAN stands for Wide area Network. With a router, all computers connect to the router and the router performs all gateway functions.

OK – Let’s stop there. We will continue with more about Internet order terminology next week.

As always, please respond with your questions or comments and let others know about EXHIBITOR LOUNGE.COM. We will see you next week. Until then, I am your host Michael Gray telling you to RELAX in the Exhibitor Lounge.