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I'm adding a wired network to our small office. We have about 10 employees but may double to 20 in the next 6 months.

We have a PC Engine APU router with three ports:

Port 1: Uplink

Port 2: Unifi Access Point

Port 3: Empty

I'm considering the following:

1) Plugging a 24 port gigabit speed switch into the APU and running cables from all hosts to the switch.

2) Plugging a 12 or 24 port gigabit speed switch into the APU and connecting smaller 4 or 8 port switches to the main switch. Then each host would either connect to one of the smaller switches or to the main switch depending on whats easier to cable.

Questions:

1) Is option #2 bad in terms of performance? If we need more ports in the future can I scale it out by adding more smaller switches to the main switch with this strategy?

2) If I go with option 1, how do I scale it out if we need more ports in the future? Can I simply plug another 12 or 24 port switch into the main one and double my number of ports?

3) I'm leaning towards a 24 port unmanaged switch. Should we just suck up the cost and go for a managed switch now, given that we expect to grow?

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Regarding question 3: If you use an unmanaged switch you're likely to regret it if you need to add additional switches later. Unmanaged switches don't support STP (Spanning Tree Protocol) which is essential in any network that's comprised of more than one switch.

Regarding the options you've listed: Option 1 seems to me to be the more efficient, cost effective and straight forward choice. I don't see any benefit to hanging multiple smaller switches off of your main switch in an environment this small. As long as each endpoint is within a reasonable distance from the main switch you should be OK (100 meters/328 feet is the official distance limit for Ethernet based networks).

If you think you're going to outgrow a 24 port switch then go with a 48 port switch.

  • Thanks for the great answer. What do you do when you outgrow the 48 port? – Dave Stibrany Jul 19 '15 at 22:32
  • Get a 96 port switch :) – GregL Jul 20 '15 at 1:25
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    You can certainly add switches as needed. Based on your growth estimate for the next 6 months, a 48 port switch should stand you in good stead for the foreseeable future. – joeqwerty Jul 20 '15 at 1:48
  • Get a stackable switch to start, and expand it as necessary? – Michael Hampton Jul 26 '15 at 2:33

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