Difference Between Router and Switch

The main difference between router and switch is that a router allows the exchange of data among different networks while a switch exchanges data within its own network. 

A network is a collection of interconnected devices that allows the sharing of data. There are various types of networks such as LAN and WAN. LAN, or the Local Area Network, refers to a network limited to a small geographical area such as an office, school, etc. WAN, or the Wide Area Network, is a network that extends to a large geographical area. Network devices are necessary to pass data between these various networks. Router and Switch are two such network devices.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is a Router
      – Functionality, Usage
2. What is a Switch
     – Functionality, Usage
3. Difference Between Router and Switch
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Words: LAN, Networking Device, Router, Switch, WAN

Difference Between Router and Switch - Comparison Summary

What is a Router?

A router is a device that forwards data from one network to another based on the IP address. When the router receives a packet, it checks the IP address. If the packet is for its own network, it receives the packet. If not, it forwards the packet to another network.

Difference Between Router and Switch

The router is an important device for proper data communication. It allows transmission data through the WAN.  In brief, it works as a gateway of a network.

What is Switch

A switch is a device with multiple ports and receives ethernet connections from other devices. It is an intelligent device that can learn the physical addresses of the devices connected to it. The physical addresses, known as a mac address, are stored in a table. When a packet reaches the switch, it checks the mac addresses and matching ports and transmit the packet only to the intended destination port.Difference Between Router and Switch

The main objective of using a switch is to exchange data within the LAN such as a home network, school or an office. They do not send data outside of their own network. Furthermore, a switch also reduces the unnecessary traffic in the network.

As mentioned above, switch sends data within its own network or the LAN. The device should be capable of reading the IP address if it has to send a data outside of its own network or to the internet. However, a switch does not read the IP address; it only reads the MAC address.

Difference Between Router and Switch


Router: A networking device that forwards data packets between computer networks

Switch: A networking device that uses packet switching to receive, process and forward data to the destination device

Main Task

Router: Routes data from one network to another and connects different networks together.

Switch: Creates a network by connecting several devices together and allows the exchange of data within its own network or the LAN.

Maintaining Table

Router: Stores IP addresses in a routing table and maintains it

Switch: Stores MAC addresses in the Mac address table or the Content Addressable Table (CAM table)

Address Type

Router: Uses IP address for data transmission.

Switch: Uses MAC address for data transmission.


Router: Takes routing decisions faster.

Switch: Not fast as a router.

Associated Layer in the OSI Model

Router: Works in the network layer of the OSI model (layer 3)

Switch: Works in data link layer of the OSI model (layer 2)


Router and switch are two vital networking devices used for data communication. The main difference between router and switch is that a router allows the exchange of data among different networks while a switch exchanges data within its own network. In conclusion, a router helps to connect networks while a switch helps to create networks.


1. “Networks Router”. Tutorials Point, .
2. “Networks Switch” Tutorials Point. .

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About the Author: Lithmee

Lithmee holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Systems Engineering and is reading for her Master’s degree in Computer Science. She is passionate about sharing her knowldge in the areas of programming, data science, and computer systems.

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