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What's the Difference between a Switch and a Router?

by Writer : Zheng Hong Trade

When someone talk about Cisco router, or Cisco switch with me, I’m very confused about this. Router? Switch? What are they? What are they used for? Oh, My Lady Gaga, complicated.

Yet, after I have found some details of router and switch, it seems a little interesting. Because both router and switch are related to network, to internet. If you have PCs, if you need to email to somebody, or if you want to chat with friends, they are contained. Haha, eager to get more information of router and switch. I search many details and “the difference between router and switch” through Google. Now, I’d like share some key info about router and switch.

What’s a router?

A router is the smartest and most complicated of the three. Routers come in all shapes and sizes, from small, four-port broadband routers to large industrial-strength devices that drive the internet itself.One way to think of a router is as a computer2 that can be programmed to understand, manipulate, and act on the data it handles.

A router operates as a switch for basic routing: it learns the location of the computers sending traffic and routes information only to the necessary connections.

Consumer-grade routers perform (at smallest) two more and important tasks: DHCP and NAT.

DHCP — Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol — is how dynamic IP addresses are assigned. When it first connects to the network, a device asks for an IP address to be assigned to it, and a DHCP server responds with an IP address assignment. A router connected to your ISP-provided internet connection will ask your ISP’s server for an IP address; this will be your IP address on the internet. Your local computers, so, will ask the router for an IP address, and these addresses are local to your network.

And switch?

A network switch or switching hub is a computer networking device that connects network segments. The term refers to a multi-port network bridge that processes and routes data at the data link layer (layer 2) of the OSI model. By paying attention to the traffic that comes across it, it can "learn" where particular addresses are.

A switch does what a hub does, but more . By paying attention to the traffic that comes across it, it can learn which computers are connected to which port.

Just by accepting that first message, but, the switch has learned something: it knows on which connection the sender of the message is located. 

Switches learn the location of the devices they are connected to almost . The result is, most network traffic only goes where it needs to, rather than to every port. On busy networks, this can make the network faster.

To be simple, switches create a network. Routers connect networks. A router links computers to the Internet, so users can share the connection. A router acts as a dispatcher, choosing the best path for information to travel so it's received .

So what do you need? A router or switch? After got these above, you can make sure that which you need. And more information of Cisco sale, you can visit