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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
What is Network Hub?
3.
What is an example of a network hub?
4.
How Does a Network Hub Function?
5.
Types of Network Hub
5.1.
Passive Hub
5.2.
Active Hub
5.3.
Intelligent Hub
6.
Difference Between Hubs vs Switches
7.
Features of Network Hub
8.
Application of Network Hub
9.
Advantages of Network Hub
10.
Disadvantages of Network Hub
11.
Frequently asked questions
11.1.
Why use a network hub?
11.2.
What is hub and router?
11.3.
Is a network hub input or output?
11.4.
Can a network hub extend the range of a wireless network?
11.5.
Can I connect multiple network hubs?
12.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024
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Network Hub

Author Avni Gupta
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Introduction

A network hub is a simple box that helps many devices talk to each other in a group. It takes information from one device and shares it with all the other devices connected to it. Hubs are not used much now because better devices called switches do the job faster and smarter.

Switches in computer networks are devices that make sure data gets to the right place without any network traffic. Just like a traffic controller, they direct information to its desired destination, making the network run smoothly and efficiently.

Network Hub

What is Network Hub?

Network Hub is a simple device that connects many devices in a network. It works at the physical layer and broadcasts information from one device to all others. It uses different ports to connect nodes, ensuring data reaches all devices in the network.

Hub Network

A hub is a “dumb” device, which is to say that it has no routing tables and hence has no decision-making skills. Instead, it just receives incoming data and broadcasts it to every device on the network.

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What is an example of a network hub?

An example of a network hub is a basic Ethernet hub. It connects multiple devices in a network but lacks intelligence. When it receives data, it broadcasts it to all connected devices, regardless of the desired recipient, making it less efficient than switches.

How Does a Network Hub Function?

A Network Hub operates at the Physical layer of the OSI model, connecting multiple computers in a network. It's a simple device that broadcasts data to all connected devices.

All the devices connected to the hub share the same bandwidth, and the data is transmitted from the sending port to the receiving port without any restrictions. 

The node that receives the data only accepts it if the address matches its MAC address.

Take a look at the following scenario to understand how it works.

  • Let's assume we have three nodes N1, N2, and N3. 
     
  • If N1 wants to send some data, if will forward the data to N2 and N3. 
     
  • If, at the same time, N2 also sends the data, then the receiving data from N1 and its data will collide, resulting in a loss of data. 
     
  • This jams the signal, and this situation is communicated to all the connected devices, who now have to wait for a definite amount of time.

Types of Network Hub

There are three types of Network Hubs that are given below:

Passive Hub

These are simply connection points for wires that make up the network. They have no functionality beyond receiving data from nodes and broadcasting them to the network. They are relatively more minor, inexpensive, and have limited abilities.

Active Hub

These Network Hubs have the capability of amplifying and regenerating signals. This allows them to act as network extenders, increasing the network range and one-upping Passive Hub. They are generally more well-suited for larger networks, having a more significant number of ports.

Intelligent Hub

Intelligent hubs possess a unique type of software that enables them to perform network management functions. This software enables them to detect and isolate network problems, giving them monitoring and management capabilities. It offers better performance for a LAN. Moreover, it can also resolve issues with a device on the network.

Difference Between Hubs vs Switches

Here are some of the differences between hubs and networks.

Hubs Switch
Hub works on the OSI model's physical layer. A switch works on the OSI model's Data link layer.
A hub uses frame flooding and broadcasting to transmit data to all connected devices. A switch uses unicast to transmit data only to the intended recipient.
Electrical signal orbits are used in this. Frames and packets are used in this.
There is only one collision domain. The domain of collision is separate.
Hub has a half-duplex transmission mode. Switch has a full-duplex transmission mode.
It is a “dumb” device. It is an “intelligent” device.
Collisions mostly occur in setup. Collisions do not occur in full duplex switches.
Less secure. More secure.
Spanning tree protocol is not supported. Are more reliable due to built-in features like Spanning tree protocol.
They broadcast data to all the connected devices. They use MAC address tables to prevent unauthorized access.
They have limited scalability. They are highly scalable as they are designed to create larger networks with more devices.

For a detailed description of each hub and switches you can also check out Hub and Switch.

Features of Network Hub

The features of a network hub are:

  • It connects many devices in a network.
     
  • A network hub operates at the Physical layer of the OSI model.
     
  • It broadcasts incoming data to all connected devices.
     
  • A network hub lacks intelligence and doesn't differentiate between recipients.
     
  • It is budget-friendly and easy to set up.
     
  • It is suitable for small networks with less data traffic.
     
  • Network hubs can slow down networks because they send data to all devices (also known as data flooding), causing congestion.

Application of Network Hub

The applications of a network hub are:

  • Network hubs are used to link PCs, printers, and other devices in a network.
     
  • Network hubs are suitable for connecting devices in small networks as in homes and offices where simplicity and cost-effectiveness are essential.
     
  • Network hubs are used to extend the network's reach beyond the limitations of a single device.
     
  • Network hubs are used to test network connections and check data transmission between devices.
     
  • Network hubs are also useful for setting up temporary networks in events, conferences, or meetings.

Advantages of Network Hub

While more advanced networking devices have generally replaced Network Hub, it still has a few advantages in specific network scenarios

  • Cost Effective: Relatively inexpensive, making them a viable solution for smaller networks.
     
  • Ease of Use: These devices are easy to use and setup, having a minimal configuration
     
  • Usage with any Networking device: Hubs can be used with virtually any network device with a valid network port (generally Ethernet). This is very useful as one can test their devices on a network using a Network Hub.

Disadvantages of Network Hub

Hubs, once commonly used, have now been replaced by newer and more advanced networking devices. There are several disadvantages to using hubs over these modern networking devices. Some of them are listed as follows.

  • Limited functionality: Hubs have limited functionality and are primarily used as a simple device connection point. They cannot perform traffic filtering or prioritization or manage network traffic like switches and routers can.
     
  • Network congestion: Hubs can cause congestion by broadcasting all traffic to every network device, leading to slower performance and reduced efficiency, especially in more extensive networks.
     
  • Security risks: Hubs do not provide any security features like firewalls or encryption, leaving the network vulnerable to security breaches and attacks.
     
  • Outdated technology: Hubs have been replaced by more advanced networking devices, such as switches and routers, that offer better performance and functionality.
     
  • Limited scalability: Hubs have a limited number of ports, making it difficult to expand a network beyond a certain size. This limits the scalability of the network and makes it more challenging to add new devices to the network as needed.

Also read - active and passive attacks

You can read related articles such as Congestion Control in Computer Networks here.

Frequently asked questions

Why use a network hub?

A Network hub can be used for small networks because it's cheap and easy to set up, but it sends data to all devices, which can slow things down.

What is hub and router?

A hub links computers together and shares data with all devices. A router connects different networks and sends data between them effectively.

Is a network hub input or output?

A network hub is like a sharing center for devices in a network. It receives and sends data to all connected devices hence can be said as both an input and output device.

Can a network hub extend the range of a wireless network?

No, we cannot use a network hub to extend the range of a wireless network. Hubs are designed to work with wired networks or devices and cannot communicate with wireless devices.

Can I connect multiple network hubs?

You can connect multiple network hubs to create a larger network. However, doing so can result in slower network speeds and reduced reliability, as each hub introduces additional latency and potential points of failure.

Conclusion

In this blog, we learned about the Network Hub. We looked at what it is and its advantages, disadvantages, and applications. We also saw the differences between hubs and switches for a better understanding. 

In conclusion, network hubs were once popular for connecting multiple devices to a network due to their simplicity and affordability. However, they have primarily been replaced by more advanced networking devices such as switches and routers, that provide better security, reliability, and performance.

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