Register for the iXsystems Community to get an ad-free experience and exclusive discounts in our eBay Store.

Network Switch Advice

leenux_tux

FreeNAS Experienced
Joined
Sep 3, 2011
Messages
235
Hello Forum,

I am interested in finding out what experience, good or bad, people are having with network switches/hubs.

I use my FreeNAS box for home and work tasks. Serving up music and movies but also for keeping backups. It's also used as an iSCSI target for housing VMware ESXi storage.

I recently made a few alterations to my setup as the VMware guest response times were awful, purchasing a "NETGEAR GS605 5-Port Unmanaged Gigabit Switch", plus creating a dedicated virtual switch on VMware used for iSCSI (I also added a physical NIC for this sole purpose as well), which helped a lot and I was very pleased with the results :)

I am however looking to see if I can speed things up even more.

What switches are folks using in conjunction with FreeNAS ?? Especially in a home/small office environment ?? My switch is an unmanaged one, will a managed one give me increased speed? The switch supports full duplex, is it worth forcing full duplex on my FreeNAS and iSCSI NICS ??

Thankx

Leenux_tux
 

louisk

FreeNAS Experienced
Joined
Aug 10, 2011
Messages
433
In general, the aspect of being managed or unmanaged has nothing to do with the speed of a given switch. What will matter is the speed of the backplane in the switch (what is connecting all the ports together). Typically, cheap (and also typically, unmanaged) switches may be able to support a given speed (such as gigabit) on a few (2, perhaps 4, depending on the size of the switch) at a time. The more expensive switches typically support a given speed on a significant percentage, if not all of the ports. Depending on how many ports you're trying to utilize at once, your results could improve with a more expensive switch. If you decide to go this route, you will likely need to also accept the learning curve for how to configure said switch, as they are non-trivial (no web gui). While I don't expect many people are in a similar situation, I have a Cisco 2960G and a 3524-PWR at my home. I've also had good experiences with Juniper EX series.

I haven't seen an issue with auto-negotiation of duplex for over 5yrs now. Are you sure it's not negotiating properly?
 

xbmcg

Newbie
Joined
Feb 6, 2012
Messages
79
Cheeper, but very reliable are the unmanaged netgear gbit switches, especially the iron cased (e.g. GS108) are industrial grade. But also the plastic (e.g. GS608) "home" switches are quite good, they are more power consumption optimized. I have some at home running for years. If you need VLANS and managed stuff - it will be a different story.
 

b1ghen

FreeNAS Experienced
Joined
Oct 19, 2011
Messages
113
Are you using Jumbo Frames? In my experience using Jumbo Frames is quite benefitial when using iSCSI, I've never used it on FreeNAS though.
 

Brand

Moderator
Joined
May 27, 2011
Messages
142
Cheeper, but very reliable are the unmanaged netgear gbit switches, especially the iron cased (e.g. GS108) are industrial grade. But also the plastic (e.g. GS608) "home" switches are quite good, they are more power consumption optimized. I have some at home running for years. If you need VLANS and managed stuff - it will be a different story.
Not sure where you are getting that the GS108 is industrial grade. Nowhere on Netgear's website does it say that the GS108 is industrial grade. They just list it as an unmanaged desktop switch. Just because it is metal does not mean industrial grade. It is better quality but not industrial grade.

I do agree that the GS108 is a decent unmanaged switch for home use but it is lacking features that you can find in a partially managed switch. I have used the Linksys/Cisco SLM2005 and SLM2008 switches with good results. They are partially managed and support link aggregation, VLAN, and QoS.
 

leenux_tux

FreeNAS Experienced
Joined
Sep 3, 2011
Messages
235
Hello,

Many thanks for the responses from all. Some good pointers, plus, some examples of hardware in use. Time for some research me-thinks !!

If/when I do replace the switch I will post back some detail, good or bad !.

:)
 

xbmcg

Newbie
Joined
Feb 6, 2012
Messages
79
One other aspect in layer2 - switches is how many mac addresses they can store & forward. Especially for larger networks it might be interesting - and makes the switches more expensive. Also the options for stackability / redundancy have their price. The next level are managed layer2 / layer 3 switches with port security (802.1x), QoS, Routing capabilities, VLANs, Firewall options (Layer 2, 3, 4), jbic interfaces for Fiber channel etc. The sky is the limit regarding price & functionality. It depends on your needs and budget how far you want to go.
 

Brand

Moderator
Joined
May 27, 2011
Messages
142
The sky is the limit regarding price & functionality. It depends on your needs and budget how far you want to go.
Very true when talking about network switches as well as most network equipment. I have seen where people have shoot themselves in the foot, so to say, because they choose to save some money on their network equipment.
 

tropic

Newbie
Joined
Jul 6, 2011
Messages
43
Confession: I work with Cisco and Juniper switches at the office, but when I come home the bulk of my network connects to two lowly Netgear GS108Tv2 switches. They're barely a step above dumb unmanaged switches, but they support LAGs, 9K jumbo frames, rudimentary QoS, and port based VLANs. They've been solid, so no complaints from me.
 

leenux_tux

FreeNAS Experienced
Joined
Sep 3, 2011
Messages
235
Thanks again for advice folks...

This is a home/office network so getting that balance is crucial and it's a difficult line to tread between cost and functionality/usability.

All the hardware mentioned looks the biz, however, there was one which was like £500 on ebay, even second hand !! That's some serious networking at home !!

I currently have my eye on a "D-link Web Smart DGS-1216T (DGS1216T) 16-Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch" (ebay) which I am hoping to get.

:)
 

xbmcg

Newbie
Joined
Feb 6, 2012
Messages
79
You can also check the product reviews on amazon, I think I read some complains about some diying D-Link switches because of heat problems, but I am not sure what exact model they were...
 

louisk

FreeNAS Experienced
Joined
Aug 10, 2011
Messages
433
Confession: I work with Cisco and Juniper switches at the office, but when I come home the bulk of my network connects to two lowly Netgear GS108Tv2 switches. They're barely a step above dumb unmanaged switches, but they support LAGs, 9K jumbo frames, rudimentary QoS, and port based VLANs. They've been solid, so no complaints from me.
I don't understand how ou can have an unmanaged switch support VLANs. How would it know which VLAN to put on which port?
 

xbmcg

Newbie
Joined
Feb 6, 2012
Messages
79
It is a managed switch. But it has only some basic stuff like link aggregation, vlans, QoS, multicasting, dhcp, DoS detection, Port speed config, "green" functins to turn off unused ports etc.

I would tell it "Entry Level" on managed switches, but you can use it like an "unmanaged" too, because it is configured that way out of the box - all ports are 1GBit and can be used as uplink and all are in the default vlan, dhcp off.
 
Top