The standard components of networks include network routers, hubs and switches. They actually look pretty the same as these three are small box-shaped electronic devices that allow your computer to connect for communication purposes. They also have ports and LED lights that display the status of devices. What sets them apart? How are they used in technological transfers?

 routers & switches

Switches vs. Hubs

A high performance alternative to hubs are called switches. Both the switch and the hub pass data between devices which are connected to them. Hubs do this by distributing data to all other linked devices whilst a switch determines first what device is the intended data really for and then eventually sends it to that particular device only. This transfer is a called a virtual circuit.

 For example, when more than two computers are linked to a hub, the hub pass through the network traffic and into each of the four computers even when only two of the computers are communicating. A switch determines the intended destination and directly forwards data to the computer that actually requires it.  This kind of mechanism separates the switch to become a big advantage especially when the networks are busy.

Routers vs. Switches

Computers are linked to each other through routers & switches. The most basic difference of a router and a switch is that a switch works to link computers within a single network while a router is basically designed to link multiple networks all at the same time.

At home, one router is used to connect various devices to the internet. Devices such as tablets, laptops and smartphones are connected to the router through wired or wireless broadband connection. On the other hand, switches are usually used in school or business establishments. A number of computers are connected within a single local area network or LAN. If the network is large, you may need to use multiple switches which are connected to a router to allow several computers to access the internet.

It is believed that routers have greater advantage compared to switches and hubs. It is significantly more logical as they are designed to link multiple LANs with a wide area network or WAN. Routers serve as destinations for internet traffic and they receive network packets which they eventually forward to the final destination. Switches and hubs cannot do that.

Switches may be used as a router but a typical switch will not have the same points of configuration as a router. Switches were actually more popular as they used to work faster than router but with the onset of modern and flexible routers today, it may not be you most sensible choice.

Even though routers & switches work differently in some ways, they can still be interchangeably used when connecting various computers and devices. Technological transfers were made easier and faster through the use of mechanical devices that have the ability to connect several computers and devices. Data transfer can now be done by connecting through a router, switch or hub.