Difference between switch and router – Switch Vs Router

Difference between switch and router - Switch vs Router

What is switch and router ?


Often people who are not very familiar with the different components of networking circuits confuse various devices/ networking tools with each other.

Obviously, this is a common case because if we look at different components of the networking industry, they are quite similar in their functions and techniques.

Be it a modem, router, hubs, gateways, or anything else their function is simply to connect various devices in the networks and that is exactly the reason why they get mixed up.


Two Networking devices that are often switched by people who are not aware of their technical details are – switches and routers.

Both of these devices are crucial in transferring information across networks and connecting the devices that are present in these networks. And what makes them even more confusing is the fact that both of these devices either use IP addresses to locate specific locations or else use MAC addresses.

So, where does the difference lie? And how to distinguish between them?


Well, worry not because we are going to tackle both of these questions within this article. So, let’s get started!


So, what exactly is a switch? And what is a router? To understand these  2 terms we would first recommend you to read our beginners guide for switches and routers so that you can have a thorough understanding.


For basics, let’s say that a switch is a computer networking device that helps in connecting multiple devices on one computer network.

Whereas a router device for computer networking serves two of the main functions.

The first is, creating and maintaining a LAN. And the second is the management of data that enters and leaves a network.


However, these definitions still might be a bit confusing, Don’t worry we have got you covered. Now, let’s focus on some more technical differences between the two.


Difference between switch and router





Operating Layer Switches in a network operate at the second layer (Data Link Layer) Router can easily operate at the third layer (Network)
Wiring of Connections Switch are confined to only wired network connections. Routers easily work with both- wireless as well as wired situations of a network.
Faster Performance Switch can work comparatively faster than a router when deployed in a LAN Routers will work much faster than the switches in a WAN or MAN
Speed Limit It has a speed limit of about 10/100 Mbps. The speed limit of a router is about 1-10 Mbps (Megabytes per second) for wireless connection and 100 Mbps in case of a wired connection.
Maintenance of


A switch stores MAC addresses in its lookup table and maintains its own address A router stores IP addresses in its routing table and maintains its own address
Services Offered No such services are offered. QoS, NetFlow, and NAT services
Ports a type of multi-port bridge with 24/48 ports. a networking device with 2/4/8 ports.
Routing Decision A switch will more likely take a routing decision which is way more complex. A router helps its users in taking faster routing decisions.
Broadcast Domain A switch contains a broadcasting domain of its own except the implemented VLAN All the ports in a router contain a broadcasting domain of their own
Type of Addresses Uses MAC addresses Uses IP addresses


And thus these are the differences between a switch and router. Most of the differences and distinguishments lie in the way they handle networks.

The most important difference to know is that while switches generally function in a single network, routers work amongst different networks.

Thus switches are most commonly found in Local networks (LAN) while routers are more common in Wide area networks (WAN).

So, this concludes the difference between switches and routers, which are easily the two most important components in the networking industry.  I hope you got your confusion sorted!


See alsoDifference between embedded system and IoT


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