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What is the difference between Router and Switch?

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Every once in a while, each one us have had the thought of figuring out how the Internet works. In essence, the Internet is nothing but a lot of computers connected, exchanging information. With the advancement in technology, this number of devices connecting to the Internet has gone up exponentially and due to this state of the art networking devices are needed to keep things organised. These networking devices form the backbone of the Internet as they help connect, manage and route traffic on the internet.

In this article, we will be comparing two fundamental networking devices, namely routers and switches and comparing them on several parameters.

Also read: Difference between a modem and router; Why you should use a router

Routers and Switches compared

A Router, as the name, suggests is responsible for routing traffic on a local area network (LAN). Also, it connects different networks. A router has two types of ports — LAN and WAN.

The LAN ports are responsible for connecting the router to various devices on the local area network. The WAN port, on the other hand, lets the router connect this local area network to other networks or the Internet. Routers can use both wired and wireless media to form connections to devices on the local area network.

Simply put the router at your home acts as a gateway between the Internet and your device as it is responsible for connecting your devices to the Internet while also layering it with advanced features like firewalls to protect your network and systems connected to it from threats.Countries With Highest Internet Download Speeds Ranked (July) To regulate and distribute the traffic on a network, routers store the IP address of various devices and sends the data packet to the intended device. It also uses a routing table, which is responsible for keeping the information from all the nearest neighbours. This helps to direct router traffic efficiently over the Internet using routing algorithms. Routers perform a lot of critical networking tasks; hence they come with an operating system onboard.

A network switch, on the contrary, performs different tasks altogether. It is used to connect several computing devices, workstations and servers using a wired medium. These devices are prevalent in places where the size of the local area network is enormous, and these devices need to communicate with one another. A switch is responsible for managing traffic on a local area network but uses a MAC address to do so and in most cases, it connects to a router to connect it to the Internet or other local area networks.

Switches manufactured by Cisco use advance technologies like CAM tables to store the MAC addresses of the various devices. CAM tables are faster than RAM technologies used by most other routers. These switches do not use advance storage and routing algorithms to transmit data securely and can be a point of vulnerability to an organisation. They also do not use an operating system and can be used without configuration. As these devices are built to manage traffic on local area networks, they do it better than routers.

If you are familiar with the ISO/OSI model, switches are responsible for handling data in the second layer. Managing data in the form of frames. Routers, on the other hand, manage data in the form of packets in the 3rd layer of the model. Due to this reason routers are referred to level 3 switches.

Also read: How to turn an old router into a repeater?

Nischay Khanna

A tech enthusiast, driven by curiosity. A bibliophile who loves to travel. An Engineering graduate who loves to code and write about new technologies. Can't sustain without coffee. You can contact Nischay via email:

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