It would be unclear for many to understand the differences between a hub, switch, and router.
However, the term is often misused when all three devices are integrated into a single device.
In the networking world, the hub, switch, and router plays a crucial role at various levels, but the three devices’ functionality differs.
All three, Hubs, switches, and routers, will let you connect multiple devices in a network and outside network.
Each device consists of multiple ports that let you plug the cable to establish a connection.
Here, we will look into how hub, switch, and router different from each other and when to use which device.
Understanding Hub, Switch, and Router
A network hub is a most commonly used device to connect multiple computers or devices in a network.
Moreover, a hub is the least intelligent when we compare it with switches and routers.
Its work is simple and straightforward. When the hub receives data from one device or computer, it will forward or copy the same message to all the connected devices or computers.
Also, it doesn’t matter; the message belongs to which computer.
It will forward messages or data to all the connected devices, and it is up to devices or computers to accept them or reject them.
Similarly, when any computer is connected with a hub response to the message, it will go to all the connected devices.
If your devices are connected with the hub, there would be no data privacy, and your activity will be transparent with other connected devices.
As a result, one computer can see the activity of all other computers connected with the hub.
So, any traffic or data received in one port of the hub will also receive by other hub ports.
It is used because it is quick and easy to connect and less costly than switches and routers.
The Switch is far more intelligent than Hub. Like Hub, it is also the central connection point for all the connected devices in a network.
Moreover, Switch knows each connected device’s location, and when the message receives, it will be sent to the destination address.
After reading the destination address, it will send the messages or data to the destined address.
Initially, Switch doesn’t know anything about connected devices.
So, when the switch receives the first message, it will read the sender address, to which port it belongs.
Similarly, when it receives messages or data from other connected devices, it will learn the port address of those devices.
After knowing each device’s location, it can now direct the message where it is intended to send, rather than every port.
Switches locate the port of each connected device very quickly.
Afterward, Switches read the destination address, do error checking and forward the message to the correct port.
Moreover, Hub broadcast messages to all the connected devices at once, whereas Switch determines the destination address and sends it to that device only.
This makes Switches more efficient and faster than Hub.
A router is the most intelligent and smartest device when we compare it with hubs and switches.
A router is considered a small computer designed and programmed to understand, manipulate and route internet traffic.
Moreover, the router also comes with a user interface, which helps you manage traffic and security.
A router usually connects two or more networks; two LANs, two WANs, or a LAN and ISP network.
When the router receives traffic, then it will calculate the best route to send the traffic. Additionally, communication with connected devices and the internet takes place using a network protocol.
The router’s basic functionality is somewhat the same as switches, like locating network traffic and route the traffic to the correct destination.
But, the router intelligence comes into play in the manner it routes the traffic. It uses headers and forwarding tables to determine the best path for the data packets.
Additionally, it uses an ICMP protocol (Internet Control Message Protocol), which helps in the two hosts’ communication and configuration at two ends.
An important function of the router
Other than routing, the router has some other functionality. It has two other important tasks: DHCP and NAT.
The DHCP stands for Dynamic Host Control Protocol. The functionality of this protocol is to assign a dynamically new IP address to the connected device.
This type of IP address, which DHCP assigns, is known as an Internet IP address or a Local IP address.
Similarly, when the router first connects to the internet, the ISP will assign an IP address to your router, known as a Public IP address or External IP address.
Therefore, the router is the single interface that represents your devices on the internet.
NAT stands for Network Address Translation, whose functionality is to translate the IP address when it crosses local network to internet and vice versa.
When you send data packets from your device like a computer to the router, it will then translate your local IP address to public IP address and then forward it to the internet.
Similarly, when the traffic reaches your router from the internet, it will translate the public IP address to the local IP address.
From the above process, you can say that the router acts as a firewall to all the devices on the internet because they cannot communicate directly to your device.
To enhance the router’s functionality, the most router comes with a switch and hub functionality.
Moreover, the business router has additional software to setup network firewalls and VPN (Virtual Private Server).
You will find two types of routers in the market: Wired and Wireless.
The wired router uses an Ethernet cable to connect with devices, whereas the Wireless router uses a radio signal to connect with Wi-Fi in-built devices.
Hub vs. Switch vs. Router: Differences in Transmission of traffic
In hub and switch, the transmission of traffic is in the form of the frame.
When the hub and switch receive the frame, it will direct it to the connected devices.
In Hub, the frame is sent to every port, and it doesn’t matter that the frame belongs to which port.
Additionally, it will also share bandwidth to every port, which reduces its efficiency.
In contrast, the Switches keep the record of the MAC (Media Access Control) address of each connected device.
By using this information, switches know where to send a frame. It will direct the frame to the correct port.
Unlike Hub, Switches doesn’t share bandwidth, regardless of the number of devices connected and participating in traffic.
So, the user will have access to maximum bandwidth during communication with other devices.
Unlike Hub and Switch, the router route the “packet,” not the “frame.”
Packets contain destination address along with data. The destination address contains the destination’s IP address and other information that helps to reach the destination.
Hub vs. Switch Differences
Hub is recommended over switch only because it is cheaper than switch.
The switch is superior and intelligent compare to Hub because it minimizes the traffic in a network, sends data to the intended devices, and reduces bandwidth usage.
Hub sends data to all the LAN segments, whereas Switch sends data to the intended segment of the LAN.
A hub is in the physical layer (Layer 1) of the OSI model, whereas a switch belongs to the data link layer (Layer 2) of the OSI model.
Switch vs. Router Differences
The router is smarter and more intelligent than the switch because it serves multiple networks at once.
Moreover, the router can route data packets from one network to another, whereas a switch is only applicable for the LAN (Local Area Network).
A switch can serve only a wired network, which means it can be connected with devices in a network only with Ethernet wire.
On the other hand, the router can serve both wired and wireless networks, which means you can connect the device either through wire or Wi-Fi.
Router work in the Network layer (Layer 3) of the OSI model whereas, Switch belongs to the Data Link layer (Layer 2) of the OSI model.
Hub vs. Router
Hub supports the basic functionality of moving data from one device to all the devices connected with it.
Additionally, the hub act as a passive device that has no software.
Moreover, the hub’s data transmission takes place through an electrical signal in the form of bits.
On the other hand, the router knows where the data is coming from and where it should go.
It has the intelligence to map the fastest route and to detect any error with the packets.
Besides, the router is a networking device that transmits data in the form of data packets.
Lastly, the Router comes with multiple functionalities and cost higher than Hub.
Understanding the difference between a hub, switch, and router can help you choose your network’s appropriate device.
All three devices have different functionality and can be used for different purposes.
If you are looking for performance and want to connect devices with Wi-Fi, then a Wireless router would be suitable for you.
If you are limited in budget and looking for good performance, then Switch can be the better solution.