Ask the Expert

Do I need a switch?

I have an Apple network setup using four OSX 10.3.9 computers. The router I am using is a dlink DI-524, and all four ports are used along with the wireless connection.

At times, it is difficult to establish a connection with another computer (ie file sharing) and occasionally I will lose connectivity on an already established connection to a specific computer. Does it make sense for me to install a switch along with my router? Typically, I am transferring large files, checking e-mail, printing, uploading to ftp sites and browsing the Internet through the dlink router.

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Before you add a switch, you will want to make sure that your router is functioning properly and verify your Internet connection. Also, consider whether you are having problems between locally attached systems or just accessing remote services? What may appear as a router problem could in fact be a problem with your Internet connection being overloaded or encountering line problems. These conditions could result in errors including difficultly in making or maintaining connections.

A switch may not be a bad option, however make sure that you need it and that your router is functioning properly before you go the switch route.

This was first published in October 2005

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