What is the difference between a network switch and a network router?


A network switch moves data between two network devices, while a router generally routes data between two connected networks.

The router is a device that some think of as a "dispatcher" which sits between two networks and directs data traffic, connecting one network to another. One of the most common examples given of router function is where a LAN router connects a small home network, often wirelessly, to the internet.

Network switches, on the other hand, move data from one network device to another, efficiently, often by sending a localized signal to only one device, rather than broadcasting it to all local devices. Many network switches are cabled, where switches use MAC addresses or other identifiers to send signals from a dedicated port. Some switches work at multiple levels of the OSI model to do more specialized kinds of data packet control. These are called "multilayer switches."

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Justin Stoltzfus is an independent blogger and business consultant assisting a range of businesses in developing media solutions for new campaigns and ongoing operations. He is a graduate of James Madison University.Stoltzfus spent several years as a staffer at the Intelligencer Journal in Lancaster, Penn., before the merger of the city’s two daily newspapers in 2007. He also reported for the twin weekly newspapers in the area, the Ephrata Review and the Lititz Record.More recently, he has cultivated connections with various companies as an independent consultant, writer and trainer, collecting bylines in print and Web publications, and establishing a reputation…