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What are Switches in Networking?

Switches in Networking

It’s these technical terms that scare me, I’ve heard so many say. Well, can’t lie, been there done that, especially when these big IT guys start name-dropping. But it is actually really important to be aware of the topology of the domain you choose to be a part of.
For instance, Networking is one very popular domain of IT.
In this blog we shall, read more about switches as vital pieces of equipment for Networking.
Before we jump on to studying switches, it’s very important for us to glance over the entire topology of Networking to develop a better understanding. 

Topology of Networking:

What is a Topology?

Topology in general refers to the way in which all the constituent parts are interrelated or arranged.
When we talk of Network Topology, it refers to the logical and physical arrangement of nodes and connections existing in any network. 

Nodes: The nodes are inclusive of all devices such as switches, routers and software with switch and router features.

We read about the different kinds of devices that are included in nodes, often people tend to get confused amongst routers and switches. We shall have a look at the differences between routers and switches.

Router Vs Switch :

The most basic difference between these two is that Routers suffice for all working in homes , small offices, without feeling a need for switches.
Whereas we do need a switch, when we need to facilitate large amounts of Ethernet ports. 

What is a Switch in Networking?

Switches in Networking

A switch is a network device which is employed to create segments in the networks into different subnetworks which are defined as subnets or LAN segments. It has the responsibility of filtering and forwarding the packets between LAN segments based on the MAC address.

The other of its functions are as follows: 

  • It performs error checking before it begins to forward data. 
  • It operates in Data Link Layer in OSI Model. 
  • It is capable of transferring the data only to the device that has been addressed.
  • It operates in full duplex mode. 
  • It allocates each LAN segment to limited bandwidth.

This diagram will help you understand the switch and its role to an extent.

Switches in Networking

How Switch in Networking Works step by step?

We had a look at the roles of a switch. Let’s have a look at the working of a switch.
The work of a switch starts when the source wants to send the data packet to the destination, packet first enters the switch and the switch interprets it by reading its header and finding the MAC address of the destination to identify the device. It further sends the packet out through the appropriate ports that leads to the destination device.

The Switch establishes a temporary connection between the source and the destination for establishing communication and terminating the connection once the conversation is done.
It also offers full bandwidth to network traffic going to and from a device at the same time to facilitate no or really less collision. 

Switches in Networking

There are many switching techniques that are employed to decide the best route for data transmission between source and destination. These techniques are classified into three categories: 

  1. Circuit Switching 
  2. Message Switching 
  3. Packet Switching 
Switches in Networking

Let’s try to understand these switching techniques a little better:
Circuit Switching: 

Circuit Switching is a network switching technique for implementing a telecommunications network in which two network nodes create a devoted communications channel (circuit) by the means of the network before the nodes may be able to communicate.

Message Switching: 

Message switching is a network switching technique where data is routed completely right from the source node to the destination node, one single hope at a time. Whilst the message routing is being carried out, each of the intermediate switches in the network stores the entire message.

Packet Switching: 

Packet Switching refers to the transfer of small pieces of data across various networks. These data chunks are also known as packets. These packets or chunks enable faster and more efficient data transfer. 

There are many questions that surround the topic; a Switch. Very common yet recurring questions, like, what is a layer 2 switch, what is a layer 3 switch. What are managed and unmanaged switches ? Let’s have a look at these questions are tey to understand them completely. 

What is meant by layer 2 switch and a Layer 3 switch?

The maximum number of switches are layer 2 switches. The layer two switches forward data based upon the destination MAC address. 

Whereas layer 3 switches forward data that is based upon the destination IP address.

What is an unmanaged Switch and how does it differ from a managed Switch?

An unmanaged switch is designed to simply create more number of Ethernet ports on a LAN, so as to let more number of local devices access the internet.
A managed switch also tends to fulfil the same function but for way larger networks. It also offers network administrators increased control over how the traffic is going to be prioritised.


1. What are the types of networking?

The most common types of networking are: 1. KVM Switch 2. Managed Switch 3. Unmanaged Switch 4. Smart Switch 5. PoE Switch

2. What is the purpose of a switch?

The purpose of a switch is very important as the switches are referred to as the building blocks of any network. They are vital in connecting multiple devices on the same networks within a building or a campus. The devices they connect are computers, wireless access points, printers and servers. The switches enable the connected devices to share information and communicate as well.

3. What are the three functions of a switch?

The basic three functions of a switch are: 1. Learning 2. Forwarding 3. Preventing layer 2 loops.

4. What is the benefit of a switch?

The primary benefit of a switch is that it increases the available bandwidth of any network.


The role of a switch is actually crucial. It forms an integral part of the networking topology. It faciliates the connection of maximum number of devices. Switches in Networking are very important as they aid the increase of the existing bandwidth of any given network. 

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