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Switch/hub/patch panel. What's the difference?
Pineapple Sep-28-00 03:34 PM
Hi folks.

I suspect the obvious answer to the following might be ' Don't do it' but anyway . .

I run an NT system for about 40 users, and am moving offices. Myself and my collegue are going to put the cabling in ourselves.

I have a vague idea of what to do, but I have some doubts about the hardware I should use in the rack. I'll describe what I'm intending to do, and if anybody can comment on this, I would be very grateful.

I will install about 100 rj45 points around the office, and use them for either voice or data. In the rack will be hubs with 48 points (less uplinks). I will connect the main server to the first hub, and put 1 link between that hub and the next hub etc.

I will also have in the rack the phone company's kit. I'm letting them worry about that, I just expect to get 48 rj45 female ports, corresponding to extensions.

I think so far that's clear. The question now, is what to I connect to?

As far as I can see, I just need simple patch panels, right? I hardwire the utp cable to the back of the patch panels, and run the cables around the office to the rj45 female points. All I need to do then is patch from the hub/phone co panel to the patch panel.

So where does a switch come into this? Is a switch a fancy hub, or a fancy patch panel? Do I need it? Most of my workstations only have 10mbps NIC's, so I don't need (er, can't afford) to use 10/100 stuff.

Thanks for reading.

1. RE: Switch/hub/patch panel. What's the difference?
abNORMal Sep-28-00 05:27 PM
In response to message 0
Check out the article at

The major difference has to do with traffic/performance. A patch panel has no "intelligence". It's simply a connector.

2. RE: Switch/hub/patch panel. What's the difference?
Pineapple Sep-28-00 06:44 PM
In response to message 1
That's great, thanks a lot.

I did forget to mention, I already have the hubs, which I want to re-use.

Somebody suggested that maybe a compromise is to get one 8 port switch, into which I connect my servers (I have 4) and then patch one port on the switch to each hub (I have 4 also), instead of just connecting all the hubs together.

This apparently will stop some of the 'hub' bottleneck, although it is still not a perfect setup.

4. RE: Switch/hub/patch panel. What's the difference?
lbyard Sep-28-00 07:40 PM
In response to message 1
To be clear... there is a lot more difference between a patch panel and hub/switch... One cannot network more than two computers in a group with just a patch panel... Or is that what you met by simply a connector. Larry

3. RE: Switch/hub/patch panel. What's the difference?
lbyard Sep-28-00 07:32 PM
In response to message 0
I'll be blunt... You may be much better off hiring a pro to do a wiring job that big. You will probably save money in the long-run. If you want to get an idea of what is involved or learn some(!) of the stuff you should know to do the job right, go to one of your favorite on-line book stores and order the following book:
Lan Wiring-an illustrated guide to network cabling--James Trulove. Although it is a pretty good book, it is not a substitute for training and does not get into some details enough. It does not replace experience. Trulove's book will cover patch panels and punch-down blocks, but not enough detail to do the work yourself. The differences between switches and hubs can be found in our FAQs at http://duxcw.com/faq/network/hubsw.htm. Larry

5. RE: Switch/hub/patch panel. What's the difference?
Pineapple Sep-28-00 09:21 PM
In response to message 3
I certainly take your point, ideally this is what I would do.

The problem for me is that I am in South America, and the budget, skills and equipment here are not always what you have available in US or Europe.

I thank you for the info on hubs/switches though, it is much clearer now what the best option is, even if it's impossible to achieve!

Best regards

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