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The Differences Between Hubs, Switches and Routers

July 09,2021

Hubs, switches and routers are all commonly used devices to help connect a network. Although they are often integrated into a single device, and in some cases these terms may even be used interchangeably (which is incorrect), their functions are quite different from each other. Here is a quick overview of these three devices.


A hub is a device containing multiple ports for interconnection of network devices. Its purpose is to connect all the networks within a LAN (Local Area Network).

When a data packet arrives, the hub does not filter any data and does not distinguish where the data is supposed to be sent. The only thing that a hub knows, is that it copies the data packet and send it to its other ports, so that all LAN segments can receive the data packet, even if it is not for them, which will cause waste of bandwidth. Furthermore, if a single port in the data responds, all the other ports will also receive it and must determine whether they should accept it or not.

In comparison, a hub is the least intelligent and least expensive of the three, and it is gradually being replaced by switches.


A switch, quite similar to a hub, is also a device with multiple ports for interconnection of all networks within a LAN, but it is more intelligent and efficient at passing a data packet across the network.

A switch keeps record of the MAC addresses of the connected devices within the network, so that when a data packet arrives, it reads its destination address and sends it directly to its intended device, rather than to all connected devices like a hub. If the destination address is not available, the switch sends the data packet to all the devices across the network. As a result, the use of switch can reduce unnecessary traffic on the network and thus improve network speed.

Hubs and switches are used for exchanging data within a LAN, such as home or business network. They cannot be used to exchange data on an external network, such as the internet, because they are not able to read IP address. In this case, a router is needed.


All the internal communications on a LAN can be carried out without a router. However, in most cases LANs are not isolated and need to connect to the internet, and this is where a router is needed. Essentially, a router is the gateway of a network located at the exchange point with the internet. It is designed to forward data packets and direct traffic between two or more networks. After receiving a data packet, routers are programmed to understand and route data packets based on their IP addresses. It it is meant for the network, it receives the data packet, and if not, it sends it off to another network.

In a nutshell, a hub or a switch is used to create networks within a LAN, while a router is used to connect a LAN to an outside network. If you are looking to expand your network using the above devices, it is important to source them from a reliable supplier. As a competent manufacturer with 20 years experience in fiber optic communication, GLsun offers professional network solutions and technical support.