I am currently working with two laptops and two servers which I am trying to link together. For this instance, I do not have a network connection and I will be using a switch as I'm isolating these systems. My question is primarily whether or not I will need a managed switch, or if I will be able to connect them utilizing an unmanaged switch?

The two servers both have static IPs that are in the same subnet, but the laptops are using DHCP. I've installed windows on One of the servers, but mostly they are running linux VMs. The laptops are both windows 10 which use DHCP.

I essentially just need to be able to use putty to tunnel to the servers so I can access the applications and metrics I have running on kubernetes clusters that are on both servers.

I have an unmanaged switch available but it's a decades old netgear so I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't cut it. That said, I'm in no hurry to buy an expensive managed switch, but I'll do what I need to make it work.

  • If you require DHCP there needs to be a DHCP server somewhere...
    – Zac67
    Jan 12, 2023 at 18:07

2 Answers 2


You don't need a managed switch. Any kind of ethernet switch is able to forward traffic and that's pretty much all you need, provided all the computers use IP addresses from the same subnetwork.

Now, you can manually configure IP addresses on the servers and I assume you did. In order for the laptops to get IP addresses dynamically, you need to configure a DHCP server in your network to give them IP addresses.

Once all these computers have IP addresses from the same network, simply connect them to the switch and that's all.

Be advised that the pool of addresses configured on the DHCP server must exclude those IP addresses statically assigned to the servers or IP address conflicts might occur.


If all the devices are on the same layer-3 network, then simply connecting them to a switch where all the interfaces are in the same VLAN (that would be the case for an unmanaged switch), then everything should work as you want.

If the laptops and servers use different networks, then you must use a router to forward packets between the networks. Routers route packets between networks, that is why we have routers. Bridges (switches are bridges) on the other hand forward frames on the same network. A ;ayer-3 switch has a built-in router module so it can forward packets between network, but it will also be a managed switch so that you can configure it to do that.

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