Network hubs are simple pieces of network hardware that connect multiple Ethernet devices together so that they share a single physical Ethernet connection and function as a single network segment.
Compared to switches and routers, two types of network hardware that actively manage connections, hubs are considered “dumb” hardware. Hubs make no attempt to actively direct network traffic but simply repeat the packets sent to them. If, for example, you have a networked printer, a computer, and a networked hard drive all attached to the same hub, any information sent through the network intended for any of those three devices will be broadcast simultaneously to all of them via the hub. This blind-forwarding of packets makes hubs unsuitable for large installations and many network applications because it radically increases collisions between data packets and degrades the quality of data transmission.
Historically home and small business users would purchase hubs to save money (as network switches were often ten times the price of a hub). Since the mid-2000s network switch prices have fallen so radically that there is very little cost difference between a network hub and a network switch (and very little incentive to use inferior hardware when you are only saving a few dollars).
- By Jason Fitzpatrick on 02/22/13