Tips & Guides

The Difference Between A Router And A Switch

What Is The Difference Between A Router And A Switch

If you are in the process of reworking your network, you are likely going to be interested in knowing everything from what a router is to the difference between a router and a switch. Some people interchangeably use the two without knowing the true differences. Below, we will be discussing some of the differences between a router and a switch and more information on each.

What Is a Router?

A router is a wireless network device that essentially forwards data packets to various points throughout a network. It is connected to a minimum of 2 distinct networks through LAN or WAN to the Internet Service Provider’s network. Routers ultimately use forwarding tables in order to determine what path is the best to forward the existing packets. They use protocols in order to communicate and to configure the best possible route between the two connection points. You either get supplied a router by your Internet Service Provider or you purchase a router on your own and install it to communicate across the network.

What Is a Switch?

A switch is a device that works to forward and filter the packets between different LAN portions on a network. Because of this, they are not able to act as a router and directly connect to the ISP.

What Is The Difference?

Routers nowadays have become the main device that every network needs. In fact, a lot of routers on the market can operate by themselves. A majority of them can operate as both a router and a switch device. This is what has led to a lot of people using the terms interchangeably because a router often has each functionality inside of it. However, the actual functions of a dedicated router and a switch are vastly different.


Routers have the job of routing the packets to the different networks until it reaches its final destination. The packet contains data. It is connected to two distinct networks and it is what you require to communicate with your Internet Service Provider. Because of this, everyone that has Internet must have a working/functioning router that is properly connecting the LAN with the ISP’s network.

  1. Range – When you are shopping for a wireless router, one of the main things that you are going to be looking for would have to be its range. The range of the wireless functionality is crucial to finding the right router to invest in because the overall size of your home and/or the area that you are going to be using the router is going to determine whether or not it is a practical option that you can consider. If the router is not going to offer you the type of range to properly cover the area that you require wireless functionality, the router is not going to be a suitable option for you. Instead, you are going to want to find a router that covers what you need with room to spare. Otherwise, you are going to require different wireless devices like access points to supplement with the router.
  2. Technology – Another thing that you are going to be looking at when you are trying to figure out what router to invest in would be the technology that it supports. The wireless technology that the router supports is going to be crucial to finding the right product to invest in because the router is going to be limited by the technology that it is capable of utilizing. Therefore, if you are someone that has the latest and greatest mobile phones and tablets, you might be more interested in finding a router that is going to be able to take advantage of the newer wireless technology and functionality that is located inside of the hardware.
  3. Pricing – There are routers that are available at virtually every price point. The ideal router that you are going to find is going to be within your respective budget range. You want to find the router that is going to offer you the most value for your money but at the same time, you don’t want to pay for technology or features that you are not going to be using. Therefore, if you have a bottleneck with your ISP’s maximum speeds, you might not necessarily want to invest too much into your router purchase. Whereas, if you are working with extremely fast speeds, you might want a high performing router.


A switch is something that is going to provide you with the ability to handle the data and frames that are passed along the different and distinct ports on your network. It will keep track of the MAC addresses of the devices that are connected to it which is going to allow you to figure out and communicate with specific devices on your network. Typically, routers have their own switches internally.