Difference between Router and Gateway

Both Routers and Gateways are network connecting devices. Routers work at the network layer and are responsible to find the shortest path for a packet. Routers connect devices across multiple networks. Gateways, in contrast, function as a node that serves as a gateway to a network's other nodes.

Read through this article to find out more about Routers and Gateways and how they are different from each other.

What is a Router?

A router is basically a network connecting device that determines the quickest path for a packet to go to its destination. The primary objective of using a router is to link several networks at the same time.

Routers work at the network layer of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) architecture, as well as the physical layer and data link layer. Routers, unlike firewalls, do not use encryption before routing networks. Routers don't protect the network from threats, but they do include a sharing capability that lets many networks share an Internet connection.

Now let's see how exactly a Router works. A router is connected to two or more data connections from different IP networks. When a data packet arrives on one of the lines, the router evaluates the network address information in the packet header to determine its destination. The packet is then directed to the next network on its path using the information in its routing table or routing policy.

  • A router determines a packet's destination or target IP address, and the forwarding tables and headers determine the best way for transmitting the packet.
  • A packet is passed from one router to the next via the networks that make up an internetwork (such as the Internet) until it arrives at its destination node.
  • Routers are most commonly used in the local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN) domains.
  • Routing protocols are used to transport data across the network.

Routers are expensive network equipment as compared to hubs, switches, and routers. Companies such as D-Link, Cisco, and Nortel are some of the well-known router manufacturers.

What is a Gateway?

A gateway is a computer system that is responsible for directing traffic from the primary workstation to the outside network in any type of workplace. It is responsible for granting access to the Internet in homes, thus acting as an Internet Service Provider.

  • A gateway is in charge of allowing traffic to flow freely inside a network.
  • Since a gateway communicates via many protocols, its operations are far more complicated than those of a switch or router.
  • A gateway is a device that is used to communicate across networks that utilize different protocols and is responsible for converting one protocol to the other.

Difference between Router and Gateway

The following table highlights the major differences between a router and a gateway.

Router Gateway
It is capable of dynamic routing. It is not capable of dynamic routing.
It's a piece of hardware that's in charge of receiving, processing, and forwarding data packets to other networks. It is a gadget that allows networks with various protocols to communicate with one another.
The OSI model's layer 3 and layer 4 are used by routers. The OSI model's layer 5 is where a gateway functions.
A router's primary job is to transport traffic from one network to another. A gateway's primary role is to convert one protocol to another.
It is only available in specialized applications. Dedicated apps, physical servers, or virtual applications are used to host it.
A router's main function is to store routing information for various networks and route traffic based on the destination. A gateway's main function is to distinguish between what is within and what is outside the network.
Wireless networking, static routing, NAT, and DHCP server are some of the extra services provided by a router. A gateway's further functions include network access control, protocol conversion, and so on.


From the above discussion, we can conclude that Routers are the network devices that can connect multiple networks together. Routers examine the data packets and verify their path to the destination PC. A gateway, on the other hand, is a network device or piece of hardware that functions as a "gate" between two networks. It may also be characterized as a node that serves as a gateway to the network's other nodes.