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What is the difference between a patch panel and a switch?

What is the difference between a patch panel and a switch? If we are using a 24-port patch panel, is it necessary to install the switch?

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A patch panel is just a connector. It does not have any intelligence built onto it. If you connect two computers to a patch panel they will not talk to each other unless you patch those two ports on back. Now consider three computers. How would you patch them in back? Ok, you might do it somehow, but what if you have 10 of them or 50 of them? That's where a switch/hub comes into the picture: Switches/hubs extend the cable and intelligence to switch packet from one port to another.

Hope, I am clear.
-- Sudhanshu

This was first published in February 2007

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