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Switch vs. Router: The Differences

The Main Applications for Switches

A network switch has many applications. Switches:

  1. Can be used to manage the flow of data across a network
  2. Can be linked together to handle medium to large LANs.
  3. Are often used in a Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) application, which usually employs a single switch to access a variety of bandwidth services
  4. Are used to connect network devices physically
  5. Can transfer data to other devices using the half-duplex or full-duplex mode

The Main Applications for Routers

Here are eight ways to use a router. A router:

  1. Can create a LAN
  2. Allows the splitting of the internet connection to all network devices
  3. Can connect different media and devices
  4. Can be used to run a firewall
  5. Can be used to determine where to send data from one computer to another
  6. Can perform Packet Forwarding, Switching, and filtering
  7. Makes sure that data reaches its intended destination
  8. Can connect to a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

As with any type of equipment, there are advantages and disadvantages to using either a switch or a router.

The Pros and Cons of the Network Switch


  • The use of a switch reduces the number of broadcast domains. A large amount of broadcast traffic can negatively impact a network, so reducing broadcast domains is worth considering.
  • Switches support VLANs which help in logical segmentation (commonly referred to as VLAN communication). Logical segmentation provides notable benefits in LAN administration, security, and management.
  • Switches use the Content Addressable Memory (CAM) table for Port-to-MAC mapping.


  • Switches are not as good as routers when it comes to limiting broadcast.
  • Switches require inter-VLAN routing to enable communication between VLANs. However, it is important to note that there are many multilayer switches available these days.
  • When handling multicast packets, switches require some configuration and proper design.

The Pros and Cons of the Router


  • Routers deliver data packets in an organized way, which helps decrease data load.
  • Routers offer stable and reliable connections between network hosts.
  • If a central part fails to transfer data packets, routers have alternative ways to make the transfer happen.


  • When multiple computers are using the network at the same time, router connections can slow down. This situation is referred to as “connection wait.”
  • Since routers thoroughly analyze from the physical to the network layer (instead of just reading two layers of information), the connection can become slow.
  • Routers typically require a lot of initial configuration and Network Address Translation (NAT), making set up a bit complicated.



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