The organization of local networks usually lies outside the interests of the user - specialists are engaged in it. Therefore, when it becomes necessary to independently resolve this issue, confusion begins in the definitions. First of all, this concerns network equipment that performs completely different tasks and has its own functionality, insufficient or redundant for each specific case. This is a router, this is a communicator, price tags for one and the other, maybe antenna horns - that's all that a person who wants to understand in a shop window sees.
Switch - a network device that organizes communication between computers in a local network through a predominantly Ethernet interface.
A router is a network device that exchanges data between networks or network segments based on certain rules.
The difference between a switch and a router lies in the plane of the problems they solve. The switch distributes data packets between network nodes based on requests, that is, from one computer to the addressee - similar to switches on a PBX, which redirect an incoming call to the phone number for which the call is intended. The second layer of the OSI model, otherwise called channel, assumes that the switch reads the MAC address from the transmitted packet, which allows the packet to be delivered to its destination. Address tables are compiled from MAC addresses. The router works on the basis of the third layer (network) OSI model, parsing the contents of packets and compiling routing tables, in accordance with which data transfer is carried out. This device detects IP addresses and analyzes the contents of the entire packet, while the switch only detects headers with MAC addresses.
A router is technically more complicated than a switch. To connect to the Internet or any other external networks, a router is required, but the switch works at the same level and does not connect to the Internet on its own. The number of ports for both a router and a switch can be different, ranging from two Ethernet for a router and four Ethernet for a switch. The latter, almost without exception, only has LAN ports on board, the router must have a WAN to connect to the Internet. The router can work with wireless networks if there are appropriate modules, the switch works exclusively with wired Ethernet networks. The router assumes the presence of additional functions, for example, built-in software to ensure network security; you can also often find multifunctional models that combine a router and a switch.
- A router is a more complex device.
- The router works with IP addresses, the switch with MAC addresses.
- The switch does not connect to the Internet.
- The switch assumes the presence of only LAN ports, the router - at least LAN and WAN.
- The router works with routing tables.