manual switch

Definition of manual switch in The Network Encyclopedia.

What is Manual Switch?

Any manually operated (nonelectronic) switch used for switching between network devices. Manual switches are cheaper than powered electronic switches and are available in a variety of configurations for different uses. They generally have rotary switches on the front and connectors on the back. The connectors can be DB9, DB15, RJ-11, RJ-45, or other connectors such as V.35, BNC, or Centronics. Examples of manual switches include the following:

  • Stand-alone manual switches:
    These are generally small boxes with a rotary switch on the front and a set of connectors on the back. They can be used for switching connections between printers, monitors, keyboards, and other devices.


  • Rack-mounted manual switches:
    These are standard 19-inch-wide rack-mounted boxes, typically with a number of rotary switches on the front and connectors on the back. These are used more rarely and essentially combine a number of stand-alone switches into a single rack-mounted box.


  • Many-to-one switches:
    These allow several users to share one device or allow one user to access different devices. For example, a user can use a many-to-one switch to manually switch between a color laser printer and a black-and-white printer. Or an administrator can manually switch a server from a primary 10BaseT Ethernet network to a secondary network. These switches are typically either two-to-one or four-to-one switches.


  • X switches:
    These allow several users to share several devices in different configurations. These switches are typically two-to-two switches.


  • Dual switches:
    These allow you to switch two connectors at once.

    Graphic M-4. Two manual switch configurations: with a many-to-one switch and with an X switch.


Manual switches are often used in high-security environments in which a user can access a device only by physically switching to it. Some manual switches include key locks that control access.