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Networking 101: Routers & Switches

Networking can be confusing.  With all the hardware, protocols, cabling, requirements and features, it can be easy to get confused.  Geek Easy Computers wants to make your technology easier, so we put together another informative post to hopefully clear up some of the confusion.

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Routers & Network Switches are both integral parts of a network.  Because they perform similar functions to each other, it is easy for a non-technical person to get them and their purposes mixed up.  Especially because a router can function as switch, but a switch can’t function as a router. To make matters worse, many devices nowadays are routers, with built-in switches, wireless access points, and other benefits. Confused?  Well you won’t be by the end of this article!

 

Network Switches

Of the 2 devices, the “switch” is the simpler one.  Most networks today use switches to connect computers, printers and servers within a building. A switch serves as a controller, enabling networked devices to talk to each other.

 

Unmanaged Network Switch

An unmanaged switch works simply by plugging it in. It’s not configurable, so you don’t have to worry about installing it correctly. Unmanaged switches have less network capacity than managed switches. You’ll typically find unmanaged switches in home or low traffic networks.

 

Managed Network Switch

Managed network switches are configurable, which gives more flexibility and capacity than an unmanaged switch. You can monitor and modify a managed switch locally or remotely, for greater network control.  Managed network switches are primarily used commercially.

 

Routers

There are several different types of routers but they all perform the same basic function.  Routers take information that arrives through your broadband signal via a modem, decode it, and deliver it to your computer or device, via cable or wirelessly. The router will choose the most efficient route for the data in order that you receive the information quickly.  Simple routers, such as used in homes or small offices,  pass data, such as web pages, email, IM, and videos between the computers and the Internet.  More advanced routers, typically used commercially, are also called “gateways”.   The primary function of a router is to connect networks together and keep certain kinds of broadcast traffic under control.

 

The Breakdown

In simplest terms, Switches create a network. Routers connect networks. A router links computers to the Internet (the largest network), so users can share the connection. A router is a dispatcher, choosing the best path for data to travel speedily..

 

If you are planning a network for your home or business, give the experts at Geek Easy Computers a call.  Whether it’s building a new network from scratch or upgrading/streamlining an existing network infrastructure, our network specialists can put together a solution that will fit your needs!  We want to make your technology easy to use, problem free, and efficient!

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