Gigabit Ethernet for the home office

Until now, my home office network has been centred around my NetGear ProSafe DS108 10/100Mbps Ethernet hub attached to various computers, a D-Link DWL2000-AP+ wireless access point, a Solwise SAR 110 ADSL router and a downstream Gigabyte 5-port 10/100Mbps switch (because my Mac refused to place nicely with the hub). The DS108 was a nice bit of kit in its time, with 8 auto-sensing 10/100Mbps ports, but recently I’ve been carrying out some large file transfers and these have been crippling the network – effectively the high number of collisions was causing a denial of service for all the other connected devices (indeed the ADSL router was blocking its LAN connection as it thought it was being attacked, necessitating a reboot to get back onto the ‘net).

I knew the answer was to replace the (layer 1) hub with a (layer 2) switch but I needed at least 8 ports and the 24-port 3Com SuperStack 3300 that I use on the basement network has a very noisy fan. After seeking advice from a former colleague who is the best network guy that I know, it seemed that finding a managed switch (ideally, I would like to implement some VLANs) was going to be expensive, so I set about finding a decent unmanaged and fanless switch. Power over Ethernet (PoE) would have been another nice-to-have but is by no means essential.

NetGear GS108After some shopping around, I found the NetGear ProSafe GS108, which is an 8-port auto-sensing 10/100/1000Mbps full-duplex switch with automatic uplink and most importantly is fanless, so completely silent (if a bit on the warm side!). In common with a lot of my hardware purchases, I got mine from RL Supplies but it appears to be the North American model with the power, link, speed and activity LEDs built into each port, rather than in a separate power, activity, collision and duplex display as shown in the UK product documentation. Alternatively (and for a similar price by the time shipping is factored into the cost) the NetGear GS108 is available from Amazon.

I swapped the old hub out for the new switch in just a few seconds – now my LAN-based file transfers are noticeably faster and, because the collision domain is eliminated on a full-duplex switched connection, the other connected devices are still able to communicate whilst the file transfer takes place.

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