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Managed vs Unmanaged Switch - What is a Managed switch? #Learn

netgear-switches.pngNETGEAR offers a multitude of network switches to suit a wide variety of consumer and business needs. This is split into several broad categories that revolving around the "management type". Switch management type defines how a network switch handles traffic two and from its various ports. Switches can either act without questioning any traffic they are as an "unmanaged switch" that can only work with the configuration they were shipped with. As featured are needed or desired by the network architecture, switches become managed switches. Managed Switches are more flexible, and the configuration and priority of traffic can be adjusted in various ways by ether adjusting settings on the switch directly, or by logging into the switch's configuration pages or in the case of NETGEAR Insight Switches - directly through a cloud Management app. 


We want to help you to pick the right switches for your business and home. We have switches with management and capabilities for any level of expertise or business requirements. Please read on to help you find what kind of NETGEAR Switch is right for your next deployment. We'd love to hear your feedback so we can further refine and clarify the concepts in this article.


  • Unmanaged Switch: Unmanaged switches are easy to set up and offer simple connectivity with no need for management - perfect for most home office deployments. Unmanaged switches are sometimes incorrectly called an ethernet splitter vs switch, but they are different since even unmanaged switches don’t reduce traffic on every port in order to split a signal. With an unmanaged switch just pick the speed and number of ports that you want, plug it in, and connect your devices. Unmanaged switches are available in speeds of Fast (100Mbps) or Gigabit Ethernet (1000mbs). Recent developments have even unlocked the potential of 2.5gbs, 5gbs, and 10gbs with Mulit-Gigabit Unmanaged Switches. There are also models that support Power over Ethernet (PoE) allowing you to power devices like PoE security Cameras, IP phones and even LED lighting. Often the cost of a small unmanaged PoE Switch is comparable to the cost of a PoE Injector. To view NETGEAR’s entire line of Unmanaged Switches visit our Unmanaged Switches landing page. Visit the Unmanaged Switches Community for more feedback and discussion.


  • Smart Managed Plus. Smart Managed Plus switches offer Quality of Service (QoS), virtual local area networks (VLANs), and network traffic monitoring at a small premium over unmanaged switches. You can login and manage them right from your web browser—no software required. These switches are ideal for the home or small office that needs basic network management features and PoE capability. Smart Managed Plus switches are available in speeds of up to 10 Gigabit Ethernet. To view and learn about NETGEAR’s line of Smart Managed Plus Switches from the NETGEAR Smart Managed Plus Switches landing page. For discussion and feedback visit the Plus / Click / Smart Switches forum.
  • Smart Managed Pro. What is a Smart Managed Pro switch? Smart Managed Pro switches provide the same features as Smart Managed Plus switches, but with many more options for access security (RADIUS), traffic control (ACLs), static routing, monitoring (SNMP), and cable testing. The Smart Managed Pro line of switches is a big step up from Smart Managed Plus and is intended for commercial use. Smart Managed Pro switches are the perfect fit for small to medium organizations of up to 200 users, possibly with a network core composed of Fully Managed Switches. Visit NETGEAR’s line of Smart Managed Pro Switches landing page. For discussion and feedback visit the Plus / Click / Smart Switches forum.

  • Insight Managed Smart Cloud Switches. Insight Managed switches take networking to a new level, with unified, policy-based architecture rather than individual, device-by-device setup and management. Insight Managed Smart Cloud switches also provide remote cloud management and monitoring, and advanced L2/L2+ switching features such as VLANs, ACLs, QoS, LAGs, and Multicast, building on NETGEAR’s powerful Smart Managed Pro switching line. More importantly, Insight Managed switches and access points support auto-join and configure (zero-touch provisioning), as well as a single-pane-of-glass view for managing all of your Insight Managed networking devices, and multiple network locations anytime, anywhere, using the NETGEAR Insight mobile app. The Insight mobile app offers easy device discovery, one-touch registration, simplified setup, configurable alerts and notifications, and ongoing firmware management for Insight Managed devices. Network administrators can manage an entire network of Insight Managed devices with a single administrator password and real-time cloud monitoring. The Insight Cloud Portal (available to Insight Premium subscribers only) offers the same great features as the mobile app as well as highly customizable monitoring options. We even offer Insight Pro for enterprise, MSP’s and VARS. Click to view NETGEAR’s line of Insight Managed Smart Cloud Switches. For more discussion and feedback visit the Insight Managed Smart Cloud Switches forum.
  • Click and Easy-Mount Switches. NETGEAR Click Switches and Easy-Mount Switches offer innovative mounting options that let you deploy them where you need them—vertically, horizontally, under a table or desktop, on a pole or desk leg, or on a wall. NETGEAR offers several models of Smart Managed Plus Click Switches. Their small, sleek form factor and silent operation make them ideal for a small or home office or for edge deployment in an enterprise network. In addition to mounting with their Virtually Anywhere™ mounting system, you can also rack mount Easy-Mount Switches. NETGEAR’s Easy-Mount Switches come in both Smart Managed Plus and Smart Managed Pro versions. Visit here to view NETGEAR’s line of Click and Easy-Mount Switches.  For discussion and feedback visit the Plus / Click / Smart Switches forum.

  • What is a Fully Managed Switch? Fully Managed switches offer all the features of Smart Managed Plus switches with additional Layer2 (switching) and Layer 3 (routing) functionality. Advanced Layer 2 features include granular traffic shaping (using ACLs) and scalable deployment options (using L2/L3 DHCP relay agents). Network Access Control offers tiered authentication with 802.1x defaulting on MAB defaulting on captive portal. Advanced Layer 3 features include resilient and load-balanced static routing (all series) or dynamic routing (RIP, VRRP, OSPF, PIM available in some series). Fully Managed switches also provide a command line interface (CLI) that lets network administrators easily configure and deploy these switches in wide-scale enterprise environments. Fully Managed switches most often serve medium-sized networks. NETGEAR’s M4300 series switches are also preconfigured for AV over IP deployments, transmitting zero latency uncompressed UHD video. Go here to view NETGEAR’s line of Fully Managed Switches. For discussion and feedback visit the Managed Switches forum.


  • Gaming and Media Streaming Switch. NETGEAR currently offers 2 smart-managed switches for gamers. The SX10 and the S8000 Switch. These switches both come with striking looks with LED lighting and customizations to allow you to prioritize the traffic to your gaming and streaming PC, gaming consoles or PLEX NAS Storage server. The both Nighthawk Gaming & Streaming Switches offer low latency, port prioritization, and Quality of Service (QoS) as well as user-friendly configuration and built-in presets for gaming and media streaming. The Nighthawk Switch is ideal for multi-user gaming and 4K UHD media streaming in a household full of Internet-capable devices. The SX10 includes customizable RGB LED Lighting and 2x Multi-Gig ports allowing up to 10gbs ethernet. For more information about the Nighthawk S8000 Gaming & Streaming Switch and the Nighthawk Pro Gaming SX10 Multi-gig Ethernet Switch. Visit our NIGHTHAWK Pro Gaming Switches Forum for feedback and discussion.

For help narrowing your options, you can also use NETGEAR’s Switch Selector to view models by number of ports, link speed, management type, mounting type, and several other options and features. Find the right Switch for you - visit the NETGEAR Switch Selector.


This article references KB article 25445 - Which-NETGEAR-switch-is-right-for-me - Please references it for additional information and updates. We hope this post had valuable content and thanks for your feedback!

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