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Question about routers, switches, ethernet, etc.


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#1 voltagexx

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 02:45 PM

Firstly, I apologize if this is not the proper forum. I wasn't sure if I should post it here or networking, but since I'm wondering more about the actual hardware I need for now, I'll post it here. If needed, feel free to move to the appropriate forum. :thumbsup:

Anyways here's my question. Right now I've just got a very simple setup with my one computer hooked up to the internet. No problems there, but I'm also interested in hooking up my DirecTV DVR with an ethernet cable so that I can access their On-Demand services. Basically I'm just not sure what hardware I need, other than some more ethernet cable... I figured I needed a router, but when looking up cables on amazon I came across an "ethernet switch." (http://www.amazon.com/TRENDnet-Ethernet-100Mbps-Auto-MDIX-TE100-S5/dp/B000M2TAN4/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1267213402&sr=1-5) I've tried to look up info on the differences but I guess I don't know enough about the topic so I wasn't able to come to any concrete solutions. Would the switch be fine since I'm not actually hooking the computer and the DVR up to each other, and simply need them for separate uses? I guess basically I'm just wondering what the differences I would experience would be between the two different setups. Thank you for any help you may be able to give me on this matter!

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#2 garmanma

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 07:29 PM

A hub is typically the least expensive, least intelligent, and least complicated of the three. Its job is very simple: anything that comes in one port is sent out to the others

A switch does essentially what a hub does but more efficiently. By paying attention to the traffic that comes across it, it can "learn" where particular addresses are. For example, if it sees traffic from machine A coming in on port 2, it now knows that machine A is connected to that port and that traffic to machine A needs to only be sent to that port and not any of the others.

A router is the smartest and most complicated of the bunch. A simple way to think of a router is as a computer that can be programmed to understand, possibly manipulate, and route the data its being asked to handle. For example, broadband routers include the ability to "hide" computers behind a type of firewall which involves slightly modifying the packets of network traffic as they traverse the device.

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