Most people run a four-port, wireless router in their homes. This all-in-one device connects to your highspeed modem (cable or DSL), runs network cables to up to four computers or other network devices, and communicates with up to 128 wireless devices.
Until recently, the standard 4-port wireless router was good enough for me, too. All four ports were in use. But then I bought the HP C6280 inkjet printer, which has an ethernet port. Naturally, I wanted to hook it up to the network. No ports left. (Later, I realized that I probably should have got the wireless model of HP printer.)
As a temporary fix, I put my notebook computer back on wireless, freeing up a port for the printer. But I wanted that notebook back on the wired network for two reasons: (1) security and (2) speed. Wired networks are inherently secure, unlike wireless networks. My network supports speeds of up to 1Gb/sec, if the devices do. Even my notebook's 100Mb/sec network adapter is twice as fast as its G-class wireless.
In any case, I wanted spare network ports for when guests come to visit or other expansion plans not yet realized.
Gigabit Desktop Switch
But I was not sure what I could plug into my existing 4-port router. Just any other router? I happened to be in Staples, and looked over their offering of network devices. I wondered if the Gigabit Desktop Switch would work. But the store was sold out of them.
I checked FutureShop.ca, but they didn't seem to carry them at all. (I wanted a Gigabit switch to maintain the 1,000Mb/sec network. Both stores had plently of 10/100Mb/sec routers and switches.) Later that day I happened to be in the next city, and so checked their Staples. They had exactly one D-Link "energy saver" 8-port Gigabit Desktop Switch (DGS-1008D) in stock -- and it was on sale for $49. Double bonus!
(I wonder if the stores are out of gigabit gear, because that is the new standard. No point buying 10/100 gear, especially since it is not much cheaper.)
I smuggled the unit home (no need to ensure questions from the Significant Other about "what THAT is") and read over the brief instructions. It seemed fully automatic, even checking the quality of cables.
Installing the Desktop Switch
Here is how I installed the switch:
1. First, I unplugged one network cable (for one of my desktop computers) from the router, and plugged it into the switch.
2. I found a spare, short network cable, and used it to connect the router to the switch.
3. Next, I plugged the power into the switch.
4. Then I waited for the switch to perform its testing, which lasts about 10 seconds.
5. On the newly connected computer, I used the Web browser to access the Internet. It worked! I ran a cable to my notebook computer, and turned off its wireless; I tested its Internet connection, and it worked, too. Finally, I attached a spare network cable for use by others, such as my netbook or other device.
6. Finally, I tidied things up by stacking the three network boxes (dsl modem, router, and switch), and hiding the cables behind things. BTW, I find these network boxes run hot, so I put spacers between them to help the air circulate.
The D-Link package did not include any network cables, but you can get them for $1 at the dollar store these days.