A hub, in the context of networking, is a hardware device that relays communication data. A hub sends data packets (frames) to all devices on a network, regardless of any MAC addresses contained in the data packet.
A switch is different than a hub in that it keeps a record of all MAC addresses of all connected devices. Thus, it knows which device or system is connected to which port. When a data packet is received, the switch immediately knows which port to send it to. Unlike a hub, a 10/100 Mbps switch will allocate the full 10/100 Mbps to each of its ports, and users always have access to the maximum bandwidth – a huge advantage of a switch over a hub.
Common types of hubs used in networking are network hubs, passive hubs, intelligent and switching hubs.
Network Hubs: These are common connection points for network devices, which connect segments of a LAN (local area network) and may contain multiple ports – an interface for connecting network devices such as printers, storage devices, workstations and servers. A data packet arriving at one hub’s port may be copied to other ports allowing all segments of the network to have access to the data packet.
Passive Hubs: These only serve as paths or conduits for data passing from one device, or network segment, to another.
Intelligent Hubs: Also known as manageable hubs, these hubs allow system administrators to monitor data passing through and to configure each port, meaning to determine which devices or network segments are plugged into the port. Some ports may even be left open with no connection.
Switching Hubs: These hubs actually read the attributes of each unit of data. The data is then forwarded to the correct or intended port.
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