Router Vs. Switch Vs. Hub

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Router Vs. Switch Vs. Hub

A myriad of computer terminology is bound to lead to confusion. The following article on router vs. switch vs. hub enumerates the difference between these three entities.

Most of the students and professionals from the field computers would be familiar with the concept of a router, a switch, and a hub. These three are computer networking devices, which are used to connect two or more computers across a single network, or across multiple networks. Each of them have their own set of individual properties and networking suitabilities.

The sections in this article highlight some of the essential differences between these devices. The concepts are fairly simple; you need not have a technical background to grasp what is depicted. You will however, get a clearer picture once you go through the points enlisted in the comparison charts below.

Switch Vs. Hub

Switch Hub
As per the OSI model, network switches are classified as data link layer devices, i.e., they operate at Layer 2. However, certain multilayer switches can operate at higher layers as well. As per the OSI model, a hub is a physical layer device, i.e., it operates at Layer 1.
A switch is a more sophisticated network device and is more expensive than a hub. A hub is a very primitive device and is comparatively much cheaper.
A switch is an intelligent device, it transmits the data packets from the source computer to only those network computers to which the data packets are originally intended. A hub is a ‘dumb’ device to say the least. It broadcasts the data packets to each and every networked computer, and not just the target computer or set of computers to which the data packets were originally intended to be sent.
There is optimum utilization of network bandwidth in case of switches, and bandwidth wastage is minimal. Due to their broadcast mechanism of data transmission, there is unnecessary wastage of network bandwidth, which results in slow operation and data transfer speeds.
Switches are full-duplex devices, i.e., both, data transmission and reception can take place simultaneously. Hubs are half-duplex devices, i.e., both, data transmission and reception cannot take place simultaneously.
Network security is much better with the use of a switch, as compared to a hub. Thanks to its broadcast mechanism, network security becomes a big issue and a loophole in the case of a hub.

Router Vs. Switch

Router Switch
Basically, a router is used to connect computers belonging to one network with those belonging to another or other networks. Thus, a router connects two or more different networks. A switch on the other hand, connects different computers within one network.
As per the OSI model, a router is a Network Layer device, i.e. it operates at Layer 3. Unless it is a multi-layer switch, a network switch operates at Layer 2 (Data Link Layer).
Routers are much more sophisticated and intelligent network devices, as compared to switches. In comparison with routers, switches are less sophisticated and less intelligent.
A router works on the principle of IP addresses. A switch works on the basis of MAC addresses.
A router’s inbuilt hardware makes use of routing algorithms to compute the best possible path for routing data packets across different computer networks. A switch does not perform any such activities.
Routers have their own inbuilt operating systems and they need to be configured before use. Most switches do not require any prior configuration and are usually ‘ready-to-use’.

I hope the above tables would have given you a good idea of the functionality of these three networking devices and their differences.

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