Router vs Switch - which is best?

By Archer77
Sep 24, 2005
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  1. Hi I don't know all that much about networking and was wondering if anyone could help me out with the info, or at least point me to a good forum where I could get my FAQs about setting up my network. will be for at least 8 PC...

    I'm not sure I'm aware of all the Pro/Con of getting a Switch or a Router for my networking (and broadband internet sharing)

    speed/security etc.


    thanks in advance!
  2. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,284   +262

    A router and a switch are two totally different things. Most people at home use routers as a NAT with a built in switch. Almost all home routers have a built in switch these days. If you need to or can only have 1 external IP from your ISP (most people on broadband I think) with several machines behind that on an internal network then you want to go with the router. The switch will expose all your machines to your ISP and only 1 will probably get a valid IP. You can always get a switch and put up some sort of "broadband router"/NAT in front of it.
  3. Archer77

    Archer77 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Hey LNCPapa, thanx for the reply, if u have time got one more question, as far as speed is there a difference? (ie with a hub the number of users, speeds of computers etc affects the others, while with a switch each workstation gets the same signal...is that correct?)
  4. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,284   +262

    That's pretty much it, yes. Each port on a switch will have dedicate bandwidth. For instance, you have 3 machines on a hub and all three are transferring files to other machines then you will have a theoretical cap of 33 mb/sec or less for each machine on a 100 mb hub. In reality it will be much less due to collision and other things. That wouldn't be the case for a 100 mb switch - though there are other things that can limit how much data can actually pass at one time on a switch. Collision is also not a big problem on a switch.
  5. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,336   +293

    Networks have segments and for home users, there's the WAN (Internet segment)
    and the LAN (Local network). Considering only file/print sharing via the LAN,
    a switch is a better choice (see LNCPapa's notes). When traffic starts flowing
    to/form the WAN, the modem/router becomes the limiting factor and the hub/switch
    choice doesn't matter much anymore. Classical ethernet utilization
    statics give a 70% thruput as a practical limit of the rated NIC speed or
    7/70mbit utilization for 10/100mbit nic cards respectively. The classic weakest
    link rule will be the limiting factor.
  6. Blakhart

    Blakhart Newcomer, in training Posts: 510

    You can consider switches to be routers in the sense that traffic is routed to each individual port rather than all traffic is echoed to all ports as is done in a hub.
    Therefor, switches are more secure than hubs in the sense that one port cannot see traffic for another port unless the switch allows. Some switches come with ports just so one can monitor all traffic.

    As to performance, switches have better performance than hubs in all ways save maybe one: hubs may be a few millisecs faster, latency-wise, than a switch as they simply echo all traffic to all ports. The switches take a few millisecs (maybe billionths of a sec?) to process what traffic goes to what port.
    Switches are also more or less immune to race conditions, such as found when using a hub. Say the hub has many networked gamers using it. The gamers start to see their pings all increasing till they max out the time limit in the game. This is a very common condition in hubs, but really never occurs in any other traffic load than fast/small/duplex traffic. Just using a hub to go online for browsing, or as a link to some low traffic servers should be ok.

    Just some thoughts for you.
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