Smart switches vs. managed switches: a comprehensive guide from comnet by acre

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Ethernet switches play a vital role in the efficient transfer of data packets within networked systems. The different types of switches available include managed, unmanaged, and smart or self-managed switches.

In this guide, we'll provide an overview of these switches, culminating in why one of these options may be the best choice for your networking needs.

Managed Switches

Managed switches offer user configuration capabilities, including management operations for ports, secure shell (SSH), shortest path bridging (SPB), spanning tree protocol (STP), simple network management protocol (SNMP), and virtual local area networks (LAN).

These switches enable the instant enabling and disabling of ports or according to network protocols. They use SSH protocols for network access operation and remote command execution over unsecured networks. Managed switches configure SPB network protocols and bridges, simplifying network design and configuration while preventing bridge loops. They support SNMP to collect and analyze device and network health information.

Managed switches allow for the development and operation of virtual LANs. Users can modify the configuration of managed switches remotely, from a management console, or via a network interface from a web browser.

Unmanaged Switches

Unmanaged switches come pre-configured for plug-and-play operations, automatically identifying system operations and hardware components. These switches do not require user configuration and typically cannot be modified. They provide straightforward network connections and manage small network traffic.

Designed to recognize standard bandwidths, multiple transmission speeds, and different types of network connections without additional user configurations, unmanaged switches are typically inexpensive and suitable for small business networks and home offices.

Smart or Self-Managed Switches

Smart or self-managed switches are a variant of unmanaged switch that includes limited configuration options. They have minimal management features that allow for partial LAN modification and port bandwidth, remote port reset, and local device monitoring.

The Case for Self-Managed Switches

Self-managed switches are advantageous for organizations that benefit from small-scale, efficient, and cost-effective network systems. The benefits and reasons to choose self-managed switches include:


Self-managed switches are generally less expensive than managed switches, saving organizations time and money.

Plug-and-play functionality

Self-managed switches are easy to set up, designed to plug into the network and start immediately without the need for an IP address or configuration, eliminating the need for continuous monitoring and configurations.

Port options

Comnet by acre offers self-managed switches with 2, 4, 5, and 8 port options with full multicast support. Simultaneous data transmission ports are available for gigabit Ethernet with small-form-factor pluggable (SFP) or unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cabling options, designed to meet the demands of complex networks connecting multiple devices and broadband internet connection for video streaming.

Power over Ethernet (PoE) options

Self-managed switches include a PoE option that enables wired Ethernet cables to carry electrical current and operate network appliances and devices. Generally, self-managed switches offer 30W and 60W PoE options for interoperability with various network appliances and devices.

Data rate options

Self-managed switches also offer multiple network speeds that support both fast Ethernet and gigabit Ethernet options. Comnet by acre’s self-managed switches incorporate both 1000Base-TX networks, which allow for 500 megabits per second transmission with less circuitry, and 1000Base-FX networks, which allow for 1 gigabit per second data transmission. Self-managed switches can also recognize and are compatible with standard and fast Ethernet networks.

Port protection

Comnet by Acre's self-managed switches feature Port Guardian, a unique edge security feature that is simple, secure, and easy to configure and use.

Port Guardian can detect a disconnect at the network's edge. When a disconnect is identified, an SNMP notification is sent to the head end causing the affected port to be physically locked out, preventing network access.

Once the threat is eliminated, an SNMP message can be sent back to easily unlock the port.

Making the Best Decisions with comnet by acre

Choose from comnet by acre’s line of self-managed switches that offer multiple cabling options, multicast port options, PoE compatibility, gigabit Ethernet capability, and Port Guardian protection.

Our technical support and sales team have the expertise and experience working with complex networks, and all of our switches come with a lifetime warranty. Trust in comnet by acre for your networking needs because we're here to help you make the best decisions.

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