What is the Difference Between Router and Switch?

What is the Difference Between Router and Switch?

5 mins read1.1K Views Comment
Jaya Sharma
Senior Executive Content
Updated on Oct 19, 2022 09:06 IST

Both router and switch are networking devices that operate on different layers of OSI models. These connecting devices have several differences including the form in which they forward the data, routing decision, address storage, speed limit among other differences.


In this article, we will be discussing the difference between router and switch. We will also discuss these two networking devices in detail over the course of this article. 

Table of Contents

Difference between Router and Switch

In this section, we will discuss the difference between Router and Switch through the following table:

Parameters Router Switch
Operating Layer 3rd layer in an OSI model 3rd layer in an OSI model
Address storage IP addresses in the routing table and maintains its own address MAC addresses in the lookup table and maintains its own address
Ports 2/4/8 ports 24/48 ports
NAT performance Possible Not possible
Broadcast Domain Its own Its own except for the implemented VLAN.
Speed Limit 1-10 Mbps (for wireless connection) and 100 Mbps (for wired connection) 10/100 Mbps
Routing Decision Fast Complex and slow
Type of Addresses IP addresses MAC addresses
Performance Faster than switches in WAN and MAN environments Faster than routers in a LAN environment
Wired connection Optional Necessary

What is a Router in Computer Networks?

A router is a networking device that is used for forwarding data packets among computer networks. It works on the network layer, and it helps in traffic directing on the internet. The router establishes a connection between multiple networks simultaneously. It is connected to multiple data lines through several IP networks. Whenever a data packet comes on to any of these data lines, the router reads the information related to the network address in packet header. It then determines the ultimate destination. 

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Types of Routers

There are different types of routers available, including the following types:

1. Wired Router

This type of router gets directly linked to a device over a wired link. One of its ports connects the modem to receive internet packets. Another port is connected to a computer to distribute the processed internet packets. A limited number of devices can be connected through wired routers which makes wireless routers more useful. A wired router supports the NAT technology through which multiple computers are connected to it for sharing one IP address

2. Wireless Router

A wireless router allows wireless packet forwarding and routing. This router acts as an access point in the local area network. Wires are replaced with wireless radio signals to communicate with external network environments. Once this router receives data packets over wired broadband, it converts the packets that are written in binary code into radio signals. It then converts them back into the previous packets.  

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3. Edge Router

Edge router is located at the boundaries or on the edges of an ISP network. It is used at the demarcation point of the internet and WAN. This router distributes packets across several networks but not within networks. This helps in a smoother communication among multiple networks. 

4. Core router

It is a router is a powerful type of router that is used mostly in large computer networks. This router is located at the core of a networks to manage the flow of data packet within a network. The core router supports multiple telecommunication interfaces that have high speed and usage in the core internet. Unlike an edge router, it can distribute internet data packets within networks. 

5. VPN Router

This router is used for enabling network communication in a VPN environment. It enables connection and communication between multiple VPN devices that are present in different locations. It is modified in a manner that it can directly connect to the VPN. Every device that is connected to a VPN router is protected by the VPN. It enables multiple device connections with the ability of sharing encrypted connections. 

6. Virtual Router

Virtual router functions as per the virtual router redundancy protocol. Whenever the main router does not work, the virtual router becomes activated and functional. It groups several routers that allows sharing of a single virtual IP address.

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What is a Switch in Computer Networks?

Switches are networking devices that operate in the layer 2 i.e. the data link layer of an OSI model. It helps in connecting devices within a network and uses packet switching for forwarding data packets over the network. Switch consists of multiple ports to which computers are plugged. Whenever a data frame arrives at the port of a network switch, it verifies the destination address, performs required checks, and forward data frames to corresponding devices. 

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Types of switches

There are the following different types of switches:

  1. Managed Switches: These switches are used in large organizations because of their flexibility and scalability. These can be customized to improve the functionalities of a standard switch. A simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) is used to configure managed switches. These allow Ethernet devices for communicating with each other. 
  2. Unmanaged Switches: These are inexpensive types of switches that are used by small-scale businesses and home networks. There is no need for configuration of settings that are designed for plug-in and run purposes. These are completely customizable and configurable.
  3. Power over Ethernet (PoE) Switches: These are used in the PoE Gigabit Ethernets and have great flexibility. Data and power are simultaneously transmitted over this Ethernet cable. These switches help in minimizing the cable use and help in saving costs on power outlets, electrical installation and infrastructure equipment. Such switches can automatically detect the power consumed by a PoE-powered device and therefore supply only the amount of power that is required. 
  4. Local Area Network (LAN) switches: These switches connect devices within the internal LAN of an organization. They allocate the bandwidth in a way to avoid the overlapping of data packets in any network. Such switches are commonly used in Ethernet networks and cross-connect servers, clients, and network devices. 


We hope that through this article, you have been able to understand the difference between router and switch. While switches send data in the form of frames, a router forwards data in the form of packets. Both of these networking devices serve different purposes. You can choose a connecting device based on your requirements.

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About the Author
Jaya Sharma
Senior Executive Content

Jaya is a writer with an experience of over 5 years in content creation and marketing. Her writing style is versatile since she likes to write as per the requirement of the domain. She has worked on Technology, Fina... Read Full Bio


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