If you are new to computer networking, there are many devices that you need to know about, to fully understand how the working of a network is made possible. Every wired and wireless networking system is designed to be self sustaining and self regulating. This self manageability is made possible, due to working of various devices in a network like a router and a gateway. In this article, I present a router vs gateway comparison which will help you understand the working of both these devices.
Let me firstly clear out a piece of linguistic confusion. Routers were known as ‘gateways’ in the early days, which may be the source of confusion between the two different computer networking devices. Although a router could be classified as a very special type of gateway, not all gateways are routers! In the next section, we will explore the actual difference between router and gateway according to function. Also check out the router vs switch vs hub comparison.
Router Vs Gateway Comparison
Both routers and gateways are part of every large scale computing network connected to the Internet. To make the transfer of data packets over a huge network possible, it has a hierarchical structure explained by the OSI model. Refer to the ‘OSI model explained’ article for an idea about what it is all about. Every device, including router and gateway, operate at various levels of the OSI model. Let me get to the point and define what is a router and a gateway, right at the start.
Router Vs Gateway: Basic Difference in Technology
Let us begin with the definition of a router. A router is the networking device that integrates two or more networks together, while controlling the data traffic over the entire network. A wireless router on a home network, connected with a modem, provides wireless Internet access. The primary function of a router in a network is to ensure that data packets are sent to their right destinations or switched to the right addresses. In computer networking terms, a router is a layer 3 (Network Layer) device that integrates logical subnets together over the Internet. A router is known as a layer 3 gateway in technical terminology.
Let me now explain what is a meant by a gateway. Broadly, a gateway is any connection point or node on a network that provides access to a larger one. So depending on what level of networking you are operating on, a gateway is different. For any home network connected to the Internet, the ISP server is the gateway to the Internet. That is why, a router integrating multiple networks together, acts as a gateway. A proxy server or computer server connected to the Internet is a gateway for the connected network. A router with an integrated modem, that has a connection with the Internet, is also called as a gateway. As will be revealed by a router vs gateway vs switch comparison, a switch is on the lowest level of network hierarchy. It is only a network segment connector, compared to a router which integrates networks and a gateway, that provides direct access to larger networks. Also check out the router vs access point comparison.
Router Vs Gateway: Features & Applications
A router or especially a wireless router is used to set up a home wireless network. It needs to be connected with a modem and configured to provide unplugged Internet access. Check out the wireless router reviews to know more about router features. A gateway is a computer server, firewall or proxy server that is used as a connection point to the Internet or any bigger network. So if you want to set up a large office network and control the access rights of users, you need to install a computer server which acts as a gateway to the Internet. Check out what is a proxy server.
To conclude, a gateway plays a much larger role in a computer networking system, compared to a router and serves as the entry point to a much larger network, while a router merely connects multiple networks together and controls the data traffic between them.