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How Network Switches, Wireless Routers, and Wireless Access Points Serve Your Network
Homes and offices today have more devices than ever before. Some connect via ethernet port and others communicate wirelessly through 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless protocols. As you manage multiple devices simultaneously, it's easy to encounter network issues related to your router's WiFi signal, power consumption, and security.
Even with increasing security threats, today's solutions are even more intuitive, easy to use, and sync with compatible devices. Here's what you should know about the options available.
What is a network?
When more than one computer, server, mainframe, or a set of storage devices connect to each other to share data, the group is called a "network." Networks can be as large as hundreds of connected devices, or they can be two computers communicating.
The internet is one example. Another is the group of devices in your home, such as your computer, gaming console, wireless router, and security cameras. If your mobile phones use WiFi 6 instead of data, they're part of the network, too.
What is a network switch?
The more complicated networks, especially those in business or government, use a network switch. Devices on the network link up to the switch, and the switch determines what data passes from one device to another. If you wanted to send files from Computer A to Computer B, for example, but not send them to every computer in the office, the network switch routes that data appropriately.
A switch typically uses ethernet cables to connect devices. Each connected device on the network needs a place to plug into the switch, and the most powerful switches feature ethernet ports for many devices.
How does a network switch differ from a router?
In homes and small offices, you're likely to use a wireless network. Your smart home devices talk to each other by sending a WiFi signal, and the router "routes" the appropriate data to the devices that need it. While some routers also come with ethernet ports (similar to switches), they differ from switches in that they provide access to the internet.
Switches only route data from devices within the home network. They do not act as a gateway to external data on the internet. To provide internet access to devices plugged into the switch, you must connect the switch to a modem or router.
What is a wireless access point?
Another term used in networking is a wireless access point (WAP). It connects to your main router or modem via ethernet cable and broadcasts its own WiFi signal to the immediate area. This type of access point works well in large buildings where the signal from dual-band routers on the WiFi network can't reach all the places it needs. Since a router's signal isn't designed to go through concrete or steel, a WAP is ideal for secure buildings, schools, or underground structures.
Note: Wireless access points aren't the same as a range extender, which piggybacks off of an existing wireless signal to push the signal further out. An extender can only work if you get close enough to another router or WAP to catch that signal. However, you can use a WAP anywhere the LAN cable from the router can reach - even in dead zones.
What are the best networking tools?
At HP, we have easy management tools for homes, small businesses, and enterprises. Here are some of the highlights:
Aruba Instant On WAP
With 4 gigabit LAN ports, the Aruba WAP dispatches wireless signal throughout rooms at speeds of 1.14 Gbit/s and offers enhanced access point performance at a modest price. You can also mount it to your desktop or wall, and it provides administrators with remote management features through the Instant ON web interface. This interface controls everything, including guest access, load balancing, and power supply monitoring.
Aruba Instant On 1930 8G Class4 PoE 2SFP 124W Switch
Businesses looking for an easier way to manage network traffic should look no further than the Aruba Instant On switch, which keeps your bandwidth stable even with video streaming and VOIP services. It boasts 10 active ports (8 ethernet RJ45 and 2 ethernet ports supporting 1-Gigabit speeds), has a total POE budget of 124 Watts, and offers the latest security perks. Segment traffic, petition off each network area, and enjoy the Layer 3 static routing and VLANs. Everything is included with the cost of the product, with no additional service fees.
How to better manage your devices
If you only have a small home office or want to keep your kids' technology online, you can probably manage it yourself. We have a wide range of WAPs to extend your WiFi's reach and secure your network.
For enterprise applications with multiple computers in high-density environments, consider a set of switches. HP has many solutions available to match your needs. For more guidance, you can always contact our tech support team.
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