Network switches are used for connecting many different computer terminals together within a Local Area Network (LAN). The purpose of making such a connection is to transfer the data and information between the various terminals on the LAN.
Network switches commonly operate at the Data Link Layer (or layer two) of the OSI model of networking. They are far more effective than the old-fashioned network hubs as they transfer the data to only the specified destinations and hence, save a lot of bandwidth. In addition, they are easier to manage and carry a greater degree of network security.
The most common commercial Ethernet switches allow 4 - 8 machines to be linked to the network. In order to add more computers to the LAN, a method known as Daisy Chaining is adopted which is carried out by connecting the switches to each other.
A network that involves many different machines connected to each other, requires a central controlling unit. The Ethernet switch acts as a control center for this purpose and oversees all the transfers and transmissions being carried out between the various sources and destinations.
Along with the computers, there are printers, routers, and other devices as well, that are connected to the network; and the switches manage the transmission of different data packets across these many devices.
The most elementary use of these instruments is to maintain and manage home networks and small office networks. The basic Ethernet switches for home networks and office networks can support up to 4 computers, a printer, and an Internet router.
Any kind of data can be transmitted between the various connected devices. The functioning of a machine does not interfere with the functioning of the other, as each machine has its own amount of dedicated Internet bandwidth.
These instruments commonly make use of the CSMA/CD protocol, which denotes 'Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection'. Carrier Sense signifies that the network checks that there is a physical carrier that can actually carry the transmitted data.
Multiple Access means that all the machines are free to transmit the data as long as no other machine is transmitting at that particular moment, and Collision Detection means that if two machines transmit the data simultaneously then the corrupted data is immediately discarded and is re-transmitted at different time intervals.