The Internet has truly revolutionized the way we communicate. If you actually think about it, the Internet is computer networking at the highest scale of complexity. It’s a continuous link of connected computers that spreads worldwide. How is data transfer and the implementation of networking protocols made possible in this colossal network? It is made possible because of networking devices that regulate data traffic over the whole network, providing connectivity and control. The network design is based on the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model. Router, switch, hub and bridge are networking devices that act as mediators at various levels of this networking model. The aim of this article is to present a router vs switch vs hub vs bridge comparison that clearly identifies what are the differences in the design and functioning of these devices.
Every one of these devices which we compare in the following article is a part of every Large Area Network (LAN), Wide Area Network (WAN) or small private networks. They integrate and connect the network at various levels, while providing control over data flow. Let us now begin our router vs switch vs hub vs bridge comparison in the next section. I only identify the main points of difference in functionality of the four devices.
Router vs Switch vs Hub vs Bridge Comparison
A computer network connected to the Internet is designed to be a self regulating network that can guarantee the transmission of data to right destinations and regulate overall data transfer. The network can be primarily divided into two types of devices which are terminals (connected computers) and control elements or connecting devices. The difference in hub, switch, bridge and router presented below, first defines the basic functionality of each device.
Router vs Switch vs Hub vs Bridge: Basic Functionality
Let me maker a comparison between router, switch, hub and bridge based on the role they play in a computing network. Let us begin with the router. Two or more computing networks are connected together by a router. It is charged with the responsibility of controlling the inter network data traffic. They are highly intelligent devices with embedded software that are used to control the flow of data packets across diverse networks.
A network switch is charged with the job of connecting smaller segments of a single network into a connected whole. They are extensively used in Ethernet local area networks.
A hub connects various Ethernet devices to integrate them into a whole network segment. It is one of the most basic hardware devices that connect two or more Ethernet terminals in a network.
A network bridge is nothing more than a type of switch. While a switch has multiple connection ports, a bridge has a single connection port. In the next section, let us have a look at the features of each one of these devices in more detail.
Router vs Switch vs Hub vs Bridge: Features
Let us have a look at features of routers, switches, hubs and bridges with reference to OSI model layers. A router is functional on the network layer of the OSI model, which is also known as level 3. They integrate logical subnet together and their operation is made possible by inbuilt operating systems. They are designed to calculate the best possible path for transmission of data packets between networks. The basis for routing of data through a router is the use of Internet protocol addresses. You might want to check out the OSI model diagram to understand the functions of these devices better.
Continuing further with this router vs switch vs hub vs bridge comparison, let us know more about switches. Network switches are functional on the layer 2 of the OSI model. This layer is often referred to as the data link layer. Network switches transfer data across a network segment using MAC addresses for reference.
A hub operates only at layer 1 level of OSI model, which is the physical layer. Integrating Ethernet terminals together is its only function and it is a passive device used for data transfer. A bridge is just a type of network switch that connects two network segments together. Like switches, they too operate at the data link layer.
Hope this router vs switch vs hub vs bridge comparison has cleared your confusion. All these devices provide connectivity and help regulate Internet traffic through local and global Internet networks. A knowledge of the working of every one of these components will help you truly appreciate Internet technology and the ingenuity of its design, in a better way. It will also help you in troubleshooting computer networking related problems.