Aug 19, 2012
getting ready to hook up my small business network consisting of one server/workstation and 7 other workstations. I plan on buying a higher end wireless router but would like to know what type/level of switch I need. I'm a little confused about managed vs. unmanaged vs. smart? Also, I'm not sure what jumbo frames are? My office management software does call for gigabit capability.....Any thoughts?
An unmanaged (aka dumb) switch just means you can't control or alter the behavior of the switch. It can't support VLAN (virtual LANs), routing, has no firewall, etc. A managed (aka smart) switch provides some or all of these features. They're rated by layer (2, 3, 4, etc.) according to just how much capability they do provide. For example, a typical layer 2 managed switch would provide VLAN support, but not IP routing. For the latter, you'd need at least a layer 3 switch, or perhaps layer 4 depending on the switch.

Jumbo frames just means that those devices are capable of creating much large “blocks” of data per message on the ethernet network than would typical be supported, thus increasing throughput. But it only works if ALL the players have jumbo frame support (all the switches and the network adapters of the two endpoints). Most ppl don’t need such capability unless you are routinely moving very large amounts of data between machines. For small, daily transactions, it’s overkill.