Routers and switches are computer network devices that let us connect one or more computers to other computers, certain networking devices, or other kinds of networks. Routers and switches might look a bit similar to one another but both of them perform different functions. Just because they look similar, many people are guilty of confusing several functions of routers and switches. If you are one of those people, by the end of this blog, you are bound to know better and learn the difference between them.

What is a router?

A router may be defined as a network device that is connected to a computer network such as connecting your home network to the Internet. In other words, a router is known to be the working host computer that allows us to transmit data between the network to establish and then maintain the interconnection network between the two connected nodes. This network device operates at layer 3 of the OSI model, uses the destination IP address in the packet in order to identify where to forward the packet.

All in all, the router is the network device that connects the network to the world with the help of the Internet, protects your data from various security threats, and determines which all devices have priority. Furthermore, most of the routers these days consist of built-in switches that allow connections between network devices more easily and conveniently.

What is a network switch?

A network switch may be defined as a device that is used to connect various devices on a single computer network together. You might know these network switches by other names as they are also known as bridge hubs, switching hubs, or MAC bridges. These switches use the MAC address to forward the data to the desired destination quickly. The network switch is known to be a layer 2 device, working at the data link layer. Packet switching is used by the switch in order to receive, process, and forward the data to its rightful destination. Moreover, they can even function at OSI layer 3, where routing functions happen as mentioned earlier.

To know a bit more about both routers and network switches, let’s take a look at some of their applications separately.

Applications of a router

The following are some of the important applications of a router.
  • It is used to run a firewall.
  • It allows us to split the internet connection to all the devices in the network with ease.
  • It can be used to perform packet forwarding, filtering, and switching.
  • It can be connected to different devices and media without any problem.
  • It can also be connected to a virtual private network (VPN).
  • You can create a LAN using it.

Applications of a switch

The following are some of the significant applications of a switch.
  • Switches can be seen used mostly in home office or small office applications, using just a single switch to get access to several bandwidth services.
  • They are used in computer networks in order to connect multiple devices together physically.
  • They are also used to manage data flow efficiently across different networks.
  • Switches use half-duplex or full-duplex mode to transmit or forward data to other devices.

Now that you know the applications of both routers and switches, let’s dive right into the advantages and disadvantages of both of these devices.

Advantages and disadvantages of a router

There are various benefits associated with a router but there are a few limitations at the same time.

Advantages:

  • One of the most significant advantages of a router is that it provides a stable and reliable connection between the hosts of the network.
  • Another advantage of a router is that it helps transmit data in an orderly manner, reducing the data load.
  • Moreover, a router is also useful in sharing network connections with several machines at a single time, which increases productivity.

 

Disadvantages:

  • Since the router allows multiple computer systems to share the same network, it slows down the speed significantly.
  • Setting up routers is quite a lot of hard work as it requires a lot of initial configuration and network address translation.

Advantages and disadvantages of a switch

Just like a router, there are several benefits associated with a switch but at the same time, there are a few disadvantages as well.
Advantages:


  • Switches have the capability to use the CAM table in order to perform the port-to-MAC mapping.
  • One of the significant advantages of switches is that it reduces the number of broadcast domains. Having a large amount of broadcast traffic is known to have a negative impact on the network, so reducing the broadcast domain with the help of switches is worth considering.
  • Another benefit of switches is that they support VLANs, which facilitate the logical segmentation of ports.

Disadvantages:

  • Inter-VLAN routing is required to facilitate the communication between VLANs, but there are way too many switches available in the market these days.
  • When it comes to restricting broadcasts, switches don’t really do as effectively of a job as routers do when restricting broadcasts.

By now, you are aware of what a router and switch are and the differences between them as well. So, you are in a better position to make a well-informed decision when it comes to either routers or switches.

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