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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What are Routers, Switches, Hubs — Is There a Difference between them ?

Each device has its own function in a network environment. Two reasons confusion exists are
(1) all three are simple boxes with several plugs that accept cables and
(2) at times the functions of each device are rolled into one single device.

A hub, also known as a repeater, is a simple device used for years to connect all nodes, or computers, on a network to a central location. Each node on a network has a unique hardware address called a MAC address. A hub is known as a repeater because when a packet of data, or frame, is sent through the hub, it is repeated to each and every computer on the network.

A switch-based network is one that utilizes switches instead of hubs. A switch is a major upgrade to a hub. Instead of sending all network data to each and every network node, the switch will analyze the MAC address and determine where to send the data. Network bandwidth is not wasted by sending every frame to every port.

Routers not only provide connections to the internet, they also protect the LAN from the Internet. The router could block any Packet that has a destination address outside of the LAN. In short, a router can perform many of the same functions as switches and hubs, but it has address translation and filtering capabilities.

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