What is Hub in Networking
A hub is one of the simplest devices in a computer network topology. It performs the task of connecting multiple network ready devices (such as computers, mobile phones etc.) to a single internet connection. Literally, a hub means “center” and following its meaning, a hub acts as a terminal that can provide data exchange between computers in such a way that multiple to single internet ready computing devices and vice versa . They usually find their applications in connecting multiple computers to a single server or single internet connection. Hubs are widely used in those internet connections where one needs to connect multiple internet ready devices to a single internet modem. They are an obvious choice to be used in any industry where lots of computers are to be connected together with the help of this switch.
Hubs are basically internally used network connection facilitating devices and are more of a home based network connector. Networking devices are there which are more customizable than hubs and provide better networking options. Hubs, however, are more economic and are a quick replacement to any damaged networking link. Earlier, hubs were called to be as Ethernet hubs or active hubs as they could only provide wired connection to the device. Nowadays, however, with wireless technologies such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi etc. hubs are certainly being used for wireless applications too. This makes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled phones connect to the same hub to which wired connections are made. A hub is power dependent and requires a constant power supply to provide its services to the best levels.
Hardware and Connection Details
In the context of hardware, hubs are light-weight rectangular boxes having an array of connection signaling lights on their front side. On their back side, these devices have slots for LAN cable, incoming phone lines and the power switch. For the hubs which possess a Wi-Fi configuration, a bidirectional or omnidirectional antenna is attached that sends out signals for Wi-Fi. One other important factor is the number of slots for output connections that the hub has. These slots are termed as “ports” and their number significantly varies as per user’s requirement. Usually a hub has four or five ports, meaning that four to five computers can connect to it. For large commercial or industrial purposes, the number of ports can be as much as 24. Connecting 24 computers to just a single internet connection would certainly require the connection to be tough enough and give a bandwidth at least in mbps.
Setting up a hub in a house or workplace requires a little hardware and software know how in order to allow easy mounting of computers on it. For setting up a hub, the user would need to plug-in the power source and the incoming connection to the hub. For the wireless connection, a Wi-Fi signal would be generated while an Ethernet cable needs to be plugged in for wired connection.
Once the hub signal is connected with the desired computer, the user access its settings by typing the IP address in the browser window. Under the settings tab, he can put up or change the password of the hub connection. It is to be noted that hubs don’t have a password security, the user can however execute a firewall or security protection on the connection. Even protection schemes could be checked through the hub and if available, various schemes such as WEP or PSK can be applied in order to enhance the protection. The connection provided by the hub can be named so that in the case of multiple connection availability, the user can identify his network and connect to it. Other settings that one can access through the IP address system is how much data is exchanged. Some hubs also allow for limiting the amount of data to be exchanged. After configuring the connection and setting up the hub as per the user’s requirements, the connection is all set to be used.
Working of a hub in networking is derived from the first layer, the physical layer of the Open System Interconnection (OSI) model. This model defines the way in which data is exchanged from a hub and the default security and data protection modes that are applied on the data. The information that the hub receives is in form of electric signals or varying amplitude and duration. When the signal is received, the hub converts it into packets of desired length. The size of each packet can either be fixed or vary depending upon the type of algorithm the hub uses for that purpose.
Hubs came into popular scene of networking for the various speed as well as configuration features that they could provide. They can be designed to satisfy the user requirements in a very specific manner. A variety of hubs is available that not only varies in the number of ports as said earlier but also in the type of service and the connection measures that the hubs provide. Hence, hubs can certainly be defined as the connection multiplexers who were certainly involved in expanding a single connection to be exploited by multiple numbers of users.
Hubs are however quite lacking in terms of security and have become obsolete when compared to network switches. Moreover, there is no quality standard that makes the packet exchange quality suitable for the user, hence increased rate of the extent by which the signal packets collide. The switches are derived from the data link layer of the OSI model. With the help of this layer, the packet transmission can be synchronized and a better transmission and reception quality can be achieved. Some switches also come with 3rd layer of OSI model integrated into their system. This layer is the network layer and it provides connection authentication. Advanced networking solutions like switches certainly excel in terms connection quality and authentication. They are more protective and often don’t require a firewall to protect the connection network and are in more use as compared to hubs. For the excellent security measures, these switches are more business and industry oriented where a breach of connection is possible and high degree of security is required.
Hubs are still in trend for the economic feature they have and packet exchange quality is not much of a consideration, for instance in household connections. Moreover, enhancements over connecting wires and wireless speeds provide good speeds to the hub connections too.