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64 posts

Master Geek
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Topic # 150521 25-Jul-2014 12:49
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What are peoples thoughts on using small D-Link unmanaged switches around an office to add more network ports?

In my last role at a large 6000 user enterprise with proper Cisco network infrastructure this was a definite no no for obvious reasons. 

But here, a small 20 user company, does it really matter? Are we making the network potentially slower or not proper CAT6 by doing this? Or as they are unmanged to these little switches just do not much except forward stuff without any logic. 

The main switch is a Dell Powerconnect 5524 and we use a Sonicwall NSA220 for internet/firewall/wifi. Scattered around the office are three Dlink DGS108d and 105D 8 port unmanaged switches. 



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  Reply # 1095562 25-Jul-2014 12:50
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Why not just add Wifi access points?




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  Reply # 1095576 25-Jul-2014 13:00
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You can run little TP Link $39.00 switches around the place and daisy chain them. No issues there and they perform quite well. GbE the whole way.




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  Reply # 1095578 25-Jul-2014 13:06
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Additional little switches dotted around the office does not noticeably hinder network performance (unless they are not gigabit switches of course).  They are just additional potential points of failure, and if one sits behind a desk and is forgotten about, troubleshooting network issues in future can be a pain in the rear.  It also potentially means messy cabling which can be a trip hazard or looks ugly.

There used to be a 3-4-5 rule which meant that any two devices could not have more than 3 network hubs between them, but I don't think this applies with modern network switches.

Using wireless will of course hinder network performance (though this may not be an issue if the network is mainly used for internet access which is likely to be slower than the wireless) and introduce potentially frustrating compatibility issues.




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  Reply # 1095597 25-Jul-2014 13:29
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Thanks folks. So sounds like its not the end of the world. I think their little crappy power adapters are the biggest potential point of failure, but its a tiny office so would only take 30 seconds to walk round and find which one had died. 

We do a lot of image processing related work so some staff are sending big datasets around the office, hence Wifi is only used for phones/pads. 





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  Reply # 1095617 25-Jul-2014 13:50
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We're a ~10 person company and do this. The cabling is a bit messy in parts, but for a small company like ours we can't justify the cost when this does the trick for now.

I'll take a bunch of hard wired switches over wireless any day.




 


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  Reply # 1095659 25-Jul-2014 14:57
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Something working fine (which it will) and being good practice (which it certainly isn't) are two very different things.

Cascading switches is always fraught with potential issues, whether they be saturating links or unintentionally creating broadcast storms. Lots goes on at layer2 level.




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  Reply # 1095666 25-Jul-2014 15:05
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Indeed. What would the odds of those kind of events happening in our case? 



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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1095699 25-Jul-2014 15:44
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Atlanta55: What are peoples thoughts on using small D-Link unmanaged switches around an office to add more network ports?

In my last role at a large 6000 user enterprise with proper Cisco network infrastructure this was a definite no no for obvious reasons. 

But here, a small 20 user company, does it really matter? Are we making the network potentially slower or not proper CAT6 by doing this? Or as they are unmanged to these little switches just do not much except forward stuff without any logic. 

The main switch is a Dell Powerconnect 5524 and we use a Sonicwall NSA220 for internet/firewall/wifi. Scattered around the office are three Dlink DGS108d and 105D 8 port unmanaged switches. 




At my previous (max headcount 15) company, cheapie switches was all we had, and all we used.  I remember the exciting day we bought some cheapie gigabit switches.

Unless you're saturating uplink connections from the little switches to your core switch, they're not going to make any difference to throughput.  Modern switches (unlike old hubs) decode and retransmit packets rather than just electrically connecting everything together so you won't get signal degradation or similar by daisy chaining a bunch of them together.

Of course, if one dies, or someone tries to be clever and creates a forwarding loop, you will get unhappy.  But even then your fancy managed switch can hopefully tell you which port the broadcast storm/etc is coming from, which will narrow things down.

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  Reply # 1095751 25-Jul-2014 16:51
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just be careful that someone doesn't come along and create a loop
all it takes is for someone to plug the switch back into itself and your whole network will grind to a halt

cheapie dumb switches will not have spanning tree protocol

if your core switch has STP/RSTP then turn it on for added safety

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  Reply # 1095808 25-Jul-2014 18:53
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Atlanta55: Indeed. What would the odds of those kind of events happening in our case? 




What are the chances of somebody creating a loop with switches all over the place? From my experience it's very high.



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 1095817 25-Jul-2014 19:11
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:
Atlanta55: Indeed. What would the odds of those kind of events happening in our case? 




What are the chances of somebody creating a loop with switches all over the place? From my experience it's very high.




Agreed. We have had it occur in our environment. A switch on a meeting room table and a non-technical user thinks they are plugging their laptop in but actually connects a spare patch lead that was hanging out of the switch, back into the switch. Bam! Loop created and the whole building grinds to a halt.

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  Reply # 1095822 25-Jul-2014 19:22
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sbiddle:
Atlanta55: Indeed. What would the odds of those kind of events happening in our case? 




What are the chances of somebody creating a loop with switches all over the place? From my experience it's very high.




absolutely this.


while most of my experience is outside of the business world, its still something people do too often - even when they are aware of what a loopback does to the network.

oh, that cables not plugged in, looks like it must have fallen out... better plug it in eh?



not as much of a problem, as your Dell switch does have RSTP and STP, make sure your making use of it. least it will act as a point to block off any issues from spreading around past that point.




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Any comments made are personal opinion and do not reflect directly on the position my current or past employers may have.




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Master Geek
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  Reply # 1097136 28-Jul-2014 14:39
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Good points and I'll certainly take all into consideration. Thankfully I'm the admin for a group of very technical and scientific people who I don't think will ever plug randomly loose network cables into the same switch they come from, but there is always that risk :) 



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  Reply # 1097150 28-Jul-2014 14:56
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Atlanta55: Good points and I'll certainly take all into consideration. Thankfully I'm the admin for a group of very technical and scientific people who I don't think will ever plug randomly loose network cables into the same switch they come from, but there is always that risk :) 




You are wrong.

They will.

It doesn't matter if they are the smartest human beings on the planet.

They will.

Little switches everywhere is horrible - but not all of us have the budget for structured cabling back to risers with managed cisco switches.



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  Reply # 1097168 28-Jul-2014 15:19
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sbiddle:
Atlanta55: Indeed. What would the odds of those kind of events happening in our case? 




What are the chances of somebody creating a loop with switches all over the place? From my experience it's very high.




The Famous TimA Loopback cable.
I went to a mates house to fix an issue and thought it was the switch. After tearing hair out and spending 20 minutes figuring out where everything went it was a cable going back into its own switch...






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