Difference between Router and Switch

Both Routers and Switches are network connecting devices. Routers work at the network layer and are responsible to find the shortest path for a packet across the network, whereas Switches connect various devices in a network. Routers connect devices across multiple networks.

Read through this article to find out more about these two network devices and how they operate to understand how they are different from each other.

What is a Router?

Routers are network connecting devices that determine the shortest path for a packet to take to get to its destination. A router's primary function is to connect multiple networks at once.

Routers work on the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) architecture's network, physical, and data link layers.

Routers, unlike firewalls, do not encrypt networks prior to routing them. Routers do not protect the network from threats, but they do include a capability that allows many networks to share an Internet connection.

How Does a Router Work?

Two or more data connections from distinct IP networks are linked to a router. When a data packet arrives on one of the lines, the router looks at the network address information in the packet header to figure out where it should go. Using the information in its routing table or routing policy, the packet is then directed to the next network on its path.

  • A router determines a packet's destination or target IP address, and 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 far more expensive than other network equipment such as hubs, switches, and routers. D-Link, Cisco, and Nortel are some of the companies that manufacture routers.

What is a Switch?

A switch is essentially a piece of hardware or a device that is responsible for routing data from multiple input ports to a certain output port, which then sends the data to its final destination. As a result, it is mostly utilized to transmit data packets between various network devices such as routers and servers.

  • A switch is a data connection layer (layer 2 d) gadget. It guarantees that the data packets being sent are correct and free from errors.
  • In order to forward the data to the data link layer, the switch uses the MAC address.
  • A switch is also known as a multiport bridge since it accepts data from several ports.
  • A switch is a device that is used to forward electrical or optical signals. Any two network nodes that reach the switch have their own electrical signal channel.
  • A switch includes several ports, each of which may be linked to a LAN or a high-performance server or workstation through a bridge function.

Difference between Router and Switch

The following table highlights the key features of a Router and a Switch and how they differ from each other.

Key Router Switch
Objective The primary objective of a Router is to connect multiple networks. The main objective of a Switch is to connect several devices in a network.
Layer Routers work at the Network Layer. Switches work at the Data Link Layer.
Usage Router is used in LAN and MAN. Switch is used only in LAN.
Types There are two forms of routing: adaptive and non-adaptive. Switching can be of three types: circuit switching, packet switching, and message switching.
Data Format Routers send data in the form of packets. Switches send data in the form of packets and frames.
Mode of Transmission Routers follow duplex mode of transmission. Switches also follow duplex mode of transmission.
Collision There are less collisions in case of a router. In a full-duplex switch, there is no possibility of a collision.
NAT Compatibility Compatible with NAT. Not compatible with NAT.


Routers are useful for connecting faraway networks. Routers store the data and deliver them in the form of packers. Switches, on the other hand, are network devices that route the data from multiple input ports to a certain output port. To conclude, routers connect multiple networks, while switches connect multiple devices in a network.

Updated on: 01-Nov-2023

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