The terms router and switch are commonly confused. Both of these are network devices that are used in a network to connect devices together. However, these devices have some distinct differences and similarities. Let’s discuss this in more detail below.
Routers connect your home network to the Internet. A common example of this is a WiFi router that creates a wireless network in your home or business. A cable runs from the Internet router to your home network. They work together with the modem that you receive from your Internet Service Provider. Routers come in different sizes and types. Some routers are more expensive and offer higher internet speeds. Some homes have multiple routers to make sure that everyone gets access to high internet speeds.
Switches connect the devices in your home together through an ethernet cable. For example, it is possible to use a switch and an ethernet cable to connect your computer and a printer. With the advent of WiFi networks, people have started to connect devices through the internet. This is why switches are not that common in homes anymore. They are often used in businesses though as they have a lot of devices (from printers, machines to doorbells) that need to talk to a computer and each other. With the advent of Internet of Things, whereby more and more devices get connected to the internet, we can expect that switches will become more advanced in the coming decades.
They are used by network engineers in big data centers as well and are an inherent building block of the Internet.
Routers are distinct from switches, as switches only allow devices to be connected within a single network. Routers are often connected to a switch, a hub, and sometimes a modem.
The best practice in networking is to use the right device for the right job. Every house and business is unique so you have to study what you need. If you play computer games, you will need to have a faster home network compared to someone that just reads emails.
What to consider when buying a router
The best way to go about purchasing a router is by considering the following factors:
– What are you trying to achieve? Some routers offer higher network speeds than others. If you play a lot of computer games, it is important that you get the lag down to a minimum. Using a WiFi router might not be the best option as wireless networks are typically slower than wired ones.
– What coverage do you need? Coverage is also important. You want to be able to surf the Internet from everywhere in your home.
Recently, mesh routers have been developed with this purpose in mind. A mesh wifi router is a kind of router that can connect to multiple wireless routers to form a mesh network. It is basically a wireless router that is designed to work together with other wireless routers. The goal is to offer a fast Internet speed everywhere you are in your home. Some objects (such as metal beams) can block internet signals. The goal of mesh routers is to make sure that the wireless signal can get around this.
-How many devices do you have?
You also have to take the number of devices that have to connect with the network at the same time into account. More and more devices are able to use the Internet. Your router has to be able to support all these devices without slowing down the network.
-What is your budget? A router can be a big investment. Some people prefer to pick a cheaper option if they don’t use the Internet a lot.
-Do you want to get a big brand? Some brands and companies have a lot of experience with building routers. It is often best to pick one of these as they offer better support.
What to consider when buying an Internet switch
You have to consider your needs before buying a switch.
-Some switches have more ports than others. This allows you to add more devices to the network. You also have to think about the future as you might want to add more devices down the road.
-The type of devices that you plan to add. Switches can have different types of ports that allow you to do other things. It is important that you check what type of ports you need. This will allow you to pick the right device.
–How long does the device gets supported? Switches often have an expiry date. This is the point after which the manufacturer won’t support it anymore. It can be dangerous to use an outdated switch as it won’t have the latest updates. If you buy a second-hand switch, it is important that you check how long it will remain supported.
-The support that you want. Bigger brands can offer more support and documentation. This is needed if you need a complex network.
Switches range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars. Big companies have to get big switches with dozens of ports to support their infrastructure. These installations can get quite complex. Network engineers spend a lot of time optimizing the installation. It is important that every cable is properly labeled so that it is easy to replace it when something breaks.
In conclusion, routers and switches are distinct network devices used for different purposes. Routers are used to connect devices within a network and are also used to extend a network outside of a building. Switches are used to connect devices within a single network. It is essential to know the differences between routers and switches to ensure that you use the right device for the right job.
These devices are still evolving and this is why they often get replaced after a few years. They get faster and more capable over time. More and more people get Fiber to the Home networks and these need advanced routers and switches to support the faster internet speeds. They are also easier to use than before as you just need to plug in a cable and set it up correctly. They have also become more affordable.