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What Is A Network Patch Panel? Why Use It? How to Buy It?

2018-09-14 11:27:38 | Cable Management

Now we often need to deal with lots of cables when building up networks for data centers, offices, or homes. And it is best practice to use network patch panels for connecting these cables to various networking devices. However, there are still people who think this is redundant, unaware of the benefits of a network patch panel. Therefore here will have a thorough introduction to the network patch panel and its benefits, and give some tips on buying the best network patch panels.

network patch panel

What Is A Network Patch Panel?

The network patch panel is a passive mounted hardware assembly with multiple ports to connect and manage input and output cables that need to be connected to the networking hardware. It is usually attached to network racks, either above or below network switches or servers. Now there are many types of network patch panels designed for various applications. For example, there are Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a, and Cat7 Ethernet patch panels for specific cable specifications. While according to the number of ports, 12-port, 24-port, and 48-port patch panels are also available. In addition, there are also unshielded and shielded patch panels, punch-down and feed-through patch panels.

Why Use A Network Patch Panel?

As mentioned above, a network patch panel servers as a static switchboard which connects numerous devices to a central server, switch or other critical hardware. If we don’t use it, we’ll have to run Ethernet cables from each device directly into the central hardware. Moreover, every time we want to reconfigure the network or cabling for more devices, it will be difficult for us to find out the right cables, unplug them and connect them to the new devices. Besides, network patch panels also benefit us a lot in the following aspects:

Easy for Cable Management and Identification

With network patch panels, all Ethernet cables can go into one central cabling location. This helps to keep the cabling system tidy and organized, avoiding cables from becoming tangled and messy. In addition, patch panels’ ports are often labeled, which allows us to better identify which cable comes from where.

Convenient for Reconfiguration and Troubleshooting

Since all cables are terminated on the network patch panel, the switch or server won’t be disturbed when small changes are made with the cabling. Furthermore, these changes can be made easily and quickly. As for troubleshooting, the clearly labeled ports make it easier to locate cables which need to be tested or replaced.

Reduced Risk of Outage

As we all know, there is a risk of damaging the surrounding cables when adding or removing a networking hardware. However, the usage of network patch panels can greatly reduce the risk of unplanned outages by making it easy to add and remove cables without touching the main hardware.

How to Buy A Network Patch Panel?

When buying a network patch panel in the market, you’ll find there are many options in terms of styles, cable types, number of ports, etc. It’s easy task to decide which cable type you use and how many ports you need for your cabling. However, you’d better be careful in choosing between network patch panels for home and patch panels for enterprise network or data center.

If you want to buy a network patch panel for home or small office, an unshielded Cat5e or Cat6 patch panel with 12 or 24 ports is often enough. And for most home users, they often choose the punch-down panel rather than a feed-through one for its cheaper price. If you buy a punch-down one, you’ll need to wire the patch panel by yourselves. Further more, wall-mounted network patch panels are also popular for home networks. For enterprise network or data center users, it’s better to use rack mounted shielded 48 port Cat6a or Cat7 patch panels. And the feed-through ones are also suggested. For more information on buying punch-down or feed-through panels, read Should We Choose Punch-Down or Feed-through Patch Panel?

Source: http://www.fiber-optic-transceiver-module.com/network-patch-panel-wiki-why-use-it-how-to-buy-it.html

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When to Use Gigabit Ethernet Switch for Home Networks?

2018-09-07 11:58:22 | Switch

As one part of the Ethernet family, Gigabit Ethernet is now inexpensive and ubiquitous enough for home networks. Thus many people plan to buy the Gigabit Ethernet switch for upgrading their wired home and small office networks. It is true that we will benefit from Gigabit Ethernet switches since they provide 1000Mbps data rate theoretically. But do you really know or need a Gigabit Ethernet switch? Are your home network devices ready for upgrading to Gigabit Internet?

What Is A Gigabit Ethernet Switch for Home Network?

Like the other Ethernet switches, the Gigabit Ethernet switch is responsible for directing the bandwidth of your network connection to different home network wired devices such as computers. However, it can support 10, 100 and 1000Mbps data rate, which improves the reliability and functionality of a home network. For example, you may see better performance from your 4K streaming device or gaming system by connecting them to a Gigabit Ethernet switch. Now there are often 5-port, 8-port, 24-port and even 48-port Gigabit Ethernet switches in the market. While the commonly used ones are 8-port and 24-port switches. In addition, there are also managed and unmanaged, PoE and Non-PoE types. For home users who need a IP camera system, it’s better choice to buy a managed Gigabit Ethernet switch with PoE function.

poe Gigabit Ethernet Switch

When to Use A Gigabit Ethernet Switch for Home Network?

Before upgrading your home network to Gigabit Ethernet, you should know when it can offer a benefit and when it can't. Not all network operations will benefit from Gigabit Ethernet. For example, Gigabit Ethernet won’t speed up things like Web browsing or the uploading and downloading of files from the Internet. This is because those activities are limited by the speed of your broadband connection. However, if there are multiple users accessing the same network device, Gigabit Ethernet will provide more total bandwidth to go around, which in turn result in less congestion and better overall performance. In addition, Gigabit Ethernet is also helpful when large file transfers are involved, like when you perform backups over the network to a server.

If you decide to deploy the Gigabit Ethernet, there is another thing to consider - buying a Gigabit Ethernet switch or Gigabit router. Generally, home Gigabit routers usually come with three or four Gigabit Ethernet ports built in. And most devices in a home network can support Wi-Fi. Therefore, most people don’t really need the switch. But a Gigabit Ethernet switch is essential when you don’t have enough Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired devices. Moreover, if you prefer to use wires for faster speed or plan to install Gigabit Ethernet ports in your home wall, a Gigabit Ethernet switch is also a better idea.

Home Network Gigabit Ethernet Switch FAQ

Q1: What shall I prepare for moving to Gigabit Ethernet?

First of all, you need to make sure your home devices can support Gigabit Ethernet. However, there is a good chance that your devices already support it because Gigabit Ethernet capability has been standard fare on desktops and other devices for years. Second, it is suggested to use Cat5e or Cat6 cabling for Gigabit Ethernet. So if you use Cat5 cables now, you’d better replace them. Though this may be troublesome, it is desirable in the long run. The last thing is to buy a Gigabit Ethernet switch best for your needs.

Q2: If I buy a Gigabit Ethernet switch, do I still need a router?

Sure you will need. Though the switch and router perform some similar functions, they each has its own function. The Gigabit Ethernet Switch can not connect to the Internet by itself. In other words, it needs a router to connect to the Internet. The mission of a Gigabit Ethernet Switch is to extend home network capacity.

Q3: How to buy a best Gigabit Ethernet switch?

A best Gigabit Ethernet switch here means it meets all your needs and the price is good. As mentioned above, the Gigabit Ethernet switch can be divided into managed and unmanaged, PoE and Non-PoE types with 5/8/16/24/48 ports. Unmanaged switches are plug-and-play, while the managed ones allow you to change network settings and other functions. Gigabit PoE switches are designed for home IP camera systems, or for situations where there is no power source for PoE enabled devices. As to the switch ports, you’d better choose one meets both your current and future growth needs.

Originally published at Gigabit Ethernet Switch: Is It Needed for Your Home Network?

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