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Dynamic routing vs NAT: Quick Comparison

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Routing protocols can be confusing to choose between, especially if your router only allows one at a time. They’re responsible for the distribution of information between a router and its client so the one you chose can massively change how your applications on the client side perform.

In this article, we’re comparing dynamic routine to NAT or Network Address Translation so that you can tell which one’s better for you. 

Also read: What is the difference between Router and Switch?


What is Network Address Translation (NAT)?

NAT is the process by which a networking device or a firewall starts assigning public IP addresses to a group of computers on a specific network. NAT in itself is generally in charge of security and network economy. It also limits the number of IP addresses that can get assigned to a particular group (like an institution or company). 

That said, NAT also provides network translation which hosts a private network in itself that utilises IP addresses within a given, private range. This means that NAT is great at communicating information within a network, but for accessing the internet, it uses a single IP address globally assigned to the router itself. So while internal computers or clients can be differentiated by individual IPs, when accessing the internet every client has the same IP address.

Advantages of using NAT

  • Can quickly transfer large amounts of data within a network
  • Helps conserve IP address space
  • A large number of hosts can be connected to the internet using a small IP address
  • Lowers network implementation costs
  • Better security features

Disadvantages of using NAT

  • Without proper firewall implementations, internal hosts might be inaccessible from the internet
  • Doesn’t allow for end-to-end IP traceability
  • IP address translation can cause delays in switching pathways
  • Can limit performance when accessing an external network or the internet

What is Dynamic Routing?

Dynamic Routing uses the Routing Information Protocol, otherwise known as RIP. This lets the router adapt and automatically adjust to any physical changes in the network infrastructure and layout as well as when exchanging routing tables with other routers. The router itself determines the network packets’ route as it prioritises the fewest number of hops between the source and the destination. 

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Photo by Misha Feshchak

Advantages of using Dynamic Routing

  • Most routers support Dynamic Routing out of the box
  • Networks using Dynamic Routing can quickly adapt to changes in topology
  • The routing process is automatic
  • Dynamic Routing can identify the fastest and most responsive link between two hosts
  • Dynamic Routing can also rectify network problems by itself

Disadvantages of using Dynamic Routing

  • Requires additional resources like CPU, memory and extra bandwidth
  • Can be complex to implement
  • It’s less secure when compared to NAT

Which one should you pick?

The routing type you end up picking depends on your environment, the costs involved and the type of access you’re looking to give your internal clients/hosts. Since you can only pick one at a time, you’re going to have to be careful about your decision. 

The general rule of thumb is that if you have resources to spare and don’t exactly need top-notch security while maintaining easy access to external networks, Dynamic Routing is the way to go. On the other hand, if you need a more secure network that focuses more on internal communication than on external networks or the network, NAT is the better option. If you’re looking to game on your network for example, Dynamic Routing will save you a lot of hassle and will be better for performance as compared to NAT, which can sometimes restrict games from connecting to their external servers.

Also read: What is the effect of using the ‘Router# copy running-config startup-config’ command on a router?

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Yadullah Abidi

Someone who writes/edits/shoots/hosts all things tech and when he's not, streams himself racing virtual cars. You can contact him here: [email protected]

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