What is a Hub and How do it work?


What is a network hub?

A hub is a networking device that connects various devices at the physical layer. Most of the time, they are used to link computers in a LAN.

A hub is a node in a network that relays information to all of the computers and other Ethernet-based devices that are connected to it. When compared to a switch, which may restrict data transmissions to certain devices, a hub is much less complicated.

Network hubs excel in low-traffic, straightforward LAN setups. No advanced network functions, such as routing, may be provided by a hub. Because they do not perform any form of packet filtering, network hubs are often referred to as “dumb switches.”

Network hubs had one major advantage over switches despite their low capabilities and poor scalability: reduced pricing. Hubs’ use was gradually phased away as switch prices dropped in the early and middle 2000s. These days, hubs are rarely used in the workplace. Despite their simplicity, network hubs continue to serve a specific purpose.

How do hubs work?

Why are Hubs used in Networking?

In networking, a hub is a device located in the center that is used to connect several devices to one another. It is a typical piece of networking hardware that performs the function of a hub for the distribution of data transmissions inside a local area network (LAN).

In its most basic form, a hub may be thought of as an intersection where data packets coming from a variety of devices converge before being sent out to all of the devices that are linked to it. It is responsible for receiving data from one device and transferring it to all other devices that are connected to the hub. It operates at the physical layer of the OSI model.

The fact that a hub functions in a mode known as half-duplex, which means that it can either send or receive data at any one time, is one of the most important features that it possesses. It is not possible for it to do two functions at the same time.


How do hubs work?

In the reference architecture known as the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI), network hubs are placed in the Layer 1 category of devices. They allow for the unrestricted transmission of data received at one port to all of the other ports on all of the connected computers. They connect numerous computers together. Half-duplex communication is used by hubs.

Because traffic cannot be protected or quarantined using this architecture, there is cause for concern regarding both privacy and security. In addition to this, it poses a problem in terms of the practical management of traffic. All of the devices that are connected to a hub act as a single network segment and share the same collision domain. Therefore, when two devices that are linked to a network hub concurrently transmit data, the packets will collide, which will cause difficulties with the performance of the network. The fact that each port in a switch or router represents its own unique collision domain helps to mitigate this issue.

Types of Hubs

There are several different kinds of hubs, each with its own particular set of functions and applications:


1. Passive Hub

A passive hub is a simple connection point that enables multiple devices to exchange data with one another. Due to the fact that it does not enhance or regenerate signals, it is best suited for use in more compact networks in which signal deterioration is not a primary issue.

2. Active Hub

Active hubs, also known as powered hubs, take signal amplification and regeneration one step further than passive hubs. Because of this, they are more effective at preventing signal loss over greater distances, making them suitable for use in bigger networks.


3. Intelligent Hub

Intelligent hubs are equipped with a variety of additional functions, such as the capability to manage data flow and monitor network traffic. They offer improved command and control over the functioning of the network and are typically implemented in more involved systems.

Advantages of Using a Hub

  1. Simplicity: Hubs are incredibly easy to set up. Just plug in the devices, and they’re ready to communicate.
  2. Cost-Effective: For smaller networks where advanced features aren’t necessary, hubs provide a budget-friendly option.
  3. Compatibility: Hubs can connect devices with different data transmission speeds, making them versatile in certain scenarios.

Limitations of Hubs

  1. Network Congestion: Since hubs broadcast data to all devices, they can lead to network congestion as the number of connected devices increases.
  2. Security Concerns: Data sent through a hub is visible to all devices, posing security risks in sensitive environments.

Benefits of Using a Hub in Your Network

So, why should your business consider using a hub in your network infrastructure? Let’s explore some of the key benefits:


1. Simplified Network Setup and Management

A hub simplifies the process of setting up and managing your network. By connecting all devices to a central hub, you eliminate the need for complicated configurations and individual connections. This not only saves time but also reduces the chances of errors and connectivity issues. With a hub, you can easily expand your network by adding new devices without the need for extensive reconfiguration.

2. Enhanced Connectivity and Communication

By using a hub, you create a network environment where devices can communicate seamlessly with each other. The hub ensures that messages and data packets are transmitted efficiently, resulting in improved connectivity and communication. Whether your employees need to share files, collaborate on projects, or access shared resources, a hub can facilitate smooth and uninterrupted communication within your network.


3. Improved Network Performance and Reliability

A well-designed hub can significantly enhance the performance and reliability of your network. By acting as a central point for data transmission, the hub reduces the distance and latency between devices, resulting in faster transfer speeds. Additionally, hubs can help detect and diagnose network issues, allowing for prompt troubleshooting and minimizing downtime.

Differences between Hub and Switch

Hubs lack intelligence and simply broadcast data, making them suitable for small networks where efficiency isn’t a primary concern. Switches, on the other hand, offer better functionality by selectively sending data to the intended device, enhancing network performance.

Hubs broadcast data to all devices, creating unnecessary network traffic and potential collisions. Switches, however, minimize this by sending data only where it needs to go, reducing network congestion.

Hubs increase the chances of collisions as they transmit data to all devices simultaneously. Switches reduce collision domains by transmitting data only to the target device, enhancing network reliability.

Switches excel in performance, providing full-duplex communication and faster data transfer. Hubs, being half-duplex, lead to slower data transmission due to the shared bandwidth.


5. Network Security

Switches enhance security as data isn’t shared with all devices. Hubs compromise security by broadcasting data, potentially exposing sensitive information.

Learn More about What is a Switch and what does a Network Switch do


Can I still use a hub in my home network?

Absolutely, if you have a small network with minimal data exchange needs.

Are hubs completely obsolete?

No, they still find relevance in certain contexts, but switches are more efficient for modern networks.

What’s the main difference between a hub and a switch?

A hub broadcasts data to all devices, while a switch creates direct paths for data exchange.

Do hubs have any security features?

Hubs lack security features, making them unsuitable for transmitting sensitive data.

How has the concept of hubs influenced network evolution?

Hubs laid the groundwork for networking but have been largely replaced by more advanced devices like switches.

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