Network Hardware

Network hardwareThis week’s topic is all about network hardware.  Hardware is an essential part of a network when planning, designing, building, and configurating.  Each piece of equipment has a specific purpose.  Let’s look at some of these devices and their functions.

Hubs – Hubs are physical connectors for devices operating on a standard 10Base-T or 10Base-TW network.  When a device is plugged into a hub, the data it’s sending out over the network is broadcast to all other devices connected to the hub.  For example, a hub with four different computers connected to it would send out data from all four computers without any type of specific addressing of the data.

The advantage for using a hub is simple setup for computer networking. Users can simply plug an Ethernet cable into the central hub.

The disadvantage is that if two or more devices use a significant amount of bandwidth, all other computers or peripherals connected to the hub will be subject to slower network speeds.

Switches – A switch is a dedicated link between specific devices.  On a switch, connections between PCs and other devices are isolated and dedicated giving each paring full bandwidth on the network and transferring data only between connected devices.  The difference between a switch and a hub is a hub transmits a message across a network to any device that will listen, while a switch passes a message directly between two devices that are already involved in a conversation.

Think of a hub as a large road with a single lane.  All traffic is forced to weave and flow, since the speed is determined by the entirety of the traffic.  Now, think of a switch as a highway with each lane separated by a barrier.  The only factor determining the speed of each lane is the amount of traffic in the lane.

Router – A router works differently than a hub or a switch.  Routers connect two networks: a local network within your home or office and a wide area network (WAN) such as your home’s external Internet connection.  Most routers contain built-in switches or hubs that you can use to connect devices over Ethernet.

Gateway – A gateway acts as a bridge between two networks so that data can be transferred between a number of computers.  For example, when you send an email to a friend or when you log in to a website, there is a gateway that allows the connection to take place. Often, your connection to a web site will involve many smaller connections to other servers along the way.  In these cases, a number of gateways are used.

Gateways can also convert the protocol (between different types of networks and applications) rather than just support one protocol from within another.  Many commercial services have email gateways for sending messages between Internet addresses.

Bridge – A bridge serves as a connection between two LANs.  For example, when a road needs to extend across a river or valley, a bridge is built to connect the two land masses.  The bridge makes it possible for network traffic to go from one network to another without losing any data.


I hope that you found this information helpful.  Please feel free to forward it to others.  If you would like to learn more about this topic or would like to request a topic, please contact me. If you missed any past newsletters or would like a printed copy, please visit my website at.


Until next time…Happy Computing!!!

About Michael DeFlorio
I have worked is various positions as a system administrator, support technician, as a help desk support, and as an IT consultant in a corporate environment. I currently run a small business where I provide computer services such as hardware configuration, installation, for residential and for medium and small businesses. You can contact me by email or visit my website at


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