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Switch vs Router vs Modem: What Is the Difference?

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Ethernet switch, router and modem look strikingly similar if only judging by their appearance. However, they each play different roles and are deployed for various purposes in a network. So what is the key difference of switch vs router vs modem? How switch vs router vs modem each functions in a network. We would address these issues in this article by explaining switch vs router vs modem from scratch.

switch vs router vs modem

Switch vs Router vs Modem: All Are Major Network Devices

We’ll start from exploring what exactly network switch, router and modem are and the roles of switch vs router vs modem in a network.

modem router switch diagram
What Is a Modem?

A modem is often provided by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) which enables a network access to the internet. In some cases ISPs provide “hybrid” modem/router combination, this device might be power efficient to some extent, it actually limits your network potentials. So suggestion is to request a standalone modem whenever possible to increase the available resources on the network.

What Is a Router?

When connecting more than one device to a modem, a router is generally required. A router acts as the “traffic director” of a network. It takes information provided by the modem and routes it to the devices attached to the modem, then the router creates Network Address Translated ( NAT) internal private IP address to the connected devices so they can be accessed. Devices like computers, game consoles and etc can be connected to a router wirelessly or through network cables. Some advanced features of a router includes built-in firewall to help protect the network from unwanted traffic.

What Is a Switch in Networking?

A switch (such as a 10GbE switch or Gigabit PoE switch) is used to provide additional ports, expanding the capability of the router. A network switch learns the association between the MAC addresses of connected devices and its switched ports. A switch only sends data to where it needs to go, thus reducing the amount of data on the network, thereby increasing the overall performance of the connected devices while improving security. Often connected to a router, a switch will not provide routing capability and should not be connected directly to the modem unless a DHCP server is present elsewhere on the network.

Switch vs Router vs Modem: Similarities and Differences

As standard components in Ethernet networks, switch vs router vs modem bears many similarities, but there are also some key characteristics to set them apart.

Similarities:
  • Switch vs router vs modem are all small plastic/metal box-shaped electronic device
  • They all allow computers to connect to it for the purpose of enabling communication among them via Internet Protocol
  • They all have some physical ports on the front or back of them, which provide the connection points for computers, a connection for electric power, and LED lights to display working status.
Differences:
Router vs Modem

Routers work at network layer 3 of the OSI model, and it deals with IP addresses. A router is specifically used to join networks together and routes traffic between them. When used at home, your router connect the internal local network to your ISP’s network. And it can be connected to your modem (provided by ISP) on one end and to a switch on the other end (local network). Usually, the Internet port on a router will connect to your modem and the rest of the ports are for switches. A modem has a single coaxial port for the cable connection from your ISP and a single Ethernet port to link the Internet port on your router. Modem is used to connect your ISP using phone line (for DSL), cable connection or fiber (ONT).

Router vs Switch

Like we’ve mentioned, a router works at layer 3 of the OSI model, thereby it allows you to connect multiple computers to each other and also allows them to share a single Internet connection. A switch, however, works at layer 2 of the OSI model (there are also some layer 3 switches that have routing capacities), which connects one point to another in a network temporarily by turning it on and off as necessary. Note that a switch only allows you to connect multiple computers into a local network. The following chart illustrates other differences concerning router vs switch.

Router
Switch
Function
Directs data in a network. Passes data between home computers, and between computers and the modem.
Allow connections to multiple devices, manage ports, manage VLAN security settings
Layer
Network Layer (Layer 3 devices)
Data Link Layer. Network switches operate at Layer 2 of the OSI model.
Data Transmission Form
Packet
Frame (L2 Switch) Frame & Packet (L3 switch)
Used
LAN, MAN, WAN
LAN
Transmission Mode
Full duplex
Half/Full duplex
Broadcast Domain
In Router, every port has its own Broadcast domain.
Switch has one broadcast domain [unless VLAN implemented]
Speed
1-100 Mbps (Wireless); 100 Mbps – 1 Gbps (Wired)
10/100 Mbps, 1 Gbps
Address used for data transmission
IP Address
MAC address
Used for
Connecting two or more networks
Connecting two or more nodes in the same network (L2) or different network (L3)
Faster
In a different network environment (MAN/ WAN), a router is faster than an L3 switch.
In a LAN environment, an L3 switch is faster than a router (built-in switching hardware)
Features
Firewall VPN Dynamic hadling of Bandwidth
Priority rt range On/Off setting of port VLAN Port mirroring

Switch vs Router vs Modem: What’s the Connection Sequence?

The simple rule for connecting switch, router and modem is like this: modem-router-switch (access point)-multiple clients. Put the switch behind a router so all devices connected to either the switch or the router can access the internet simultaneously, while placing the switch right after the modem is just as equal to not putting it – it will waste some of your hardware and cables since all your switch ports aside from the two going between the router and modem will be useless to you.

how to connect switch, router and modem

Conclusion

Here we’ve walked you through the basic concept of switch vs router vs modem, as well as the similarities and differences concerning router vs modem and router vs switch. Hope that has clear some of your confusions. For any further solution related to fiber switch or network router, reach us via sales@fs.com.

SFlow vs NetFlow vs SNMP: What Are the Differences?

Effective network monitor and traffic management are vital for ensuring peak network performance. While SFlow, NetFlow and SNMP offer different means to monitor network traffic, a question arises from time to time: SFlow vs NetFlow vs SNMP, which is better? These article will provide some insights into the issue by addressing differences between SFlow vs NetFlow, SFlow vs SNMP and NetFlow vs SNMP. However, the best solution always depends on your network condition and the resources at hand.

network monitoring-sflow vs netflow vs snmp

SFlow vs NetFlow: SFlow for Multiprotocol, NetFlow for Better Accuracy

SFlow vs NetFlow, the debate between these two flow protocols has been around for many years. SFlow was developed by InMon Corporation. It is designed to be compatible on many different platforms of switches and network routers, which allows SFlow to grow in popularity. SFlow uses a dedicated chip that is built into the hardware, which removes the load from CPU and memory. SFlow is sample based, so accurate representation of 100% of the traffic per interface is nearly impossible.

what is sflow

Then what is Netflow? NetFlow started as a proprietary technology developed by Cisco. It is presented in Cisco switches and routers that enables the network devices to export IP Flow data to a NetFlow collector/ NetFlow analyzer to be collected, processed and further dissected. NetFlow can be nearly 100% accurate at representing who is communicating through the device while having a very small impact on CPU.

what is netflow

The most notable difference between SFlow vs NetFlow is that SFlow is network layer independent and has the ability to sample everything and to access traffic from OSI layer 2-7, while NetFlow is restricted to IP traffic only. When hesitating to choose SFlow vs NetFlow, you may have to account for these aspects:

  • If your network supports a multiprotocol environment, you might want to consider SFlow protocol and switches.
  • If your network supports only IP based traffic, a NetFlow switch will do.
  • If you want 100% accuracy on network traffic and accountability, a NetFlow capable switch could be the better fit.

SNMP vs SFlow vs NetFlow: SNMP for Standard, SFlow/NetFlow for Higher Traffic Network

What is SNMP vs xflow (SFlow/NetFlow)? We’ve known that both SFlow and NetFlow can be used to gain network visibility and to measure bandwidth usage. They are also the most powerful monitoring option for high traffic networks and advanced users. On the other hand, SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) is the basic means of gathering bandwidth and network usage data. Monitoring the bandwidth usage of routers and switches port-by-port is the most common use of SNMP, as well as monitoring device readings such as memory, CPU load etc. SNMP is commonly recommended for most standard situations, since it does not support differentiation of traffic by service/ protocol.

SNMP vs SFlow: SNMP is proved to be a very popular network management protocol, mainly being used for network monitoring. Regarding performance management on routers/switches, especially in a multiprotocol case, a layer independent SFlow should be the choice to collect, monitor and analyze data traffic.

SNMP vs NetFlow: NetFlow emerges as a more compact protocol than SNMP that scales better for performance collection and network traffic management. A couple of big difference between SNMP vs NetFlow are:

  • SNMP can be used for real-time (i.e. every second) and although NetFlow provides beginning and end times for each flow, it isn’t nearly as real-time as SNMP.
  • NetFlow tells you who and with what is consuming the bandwidth, it is also much more verbose than SNMP and therefore NetFlow exports consume much more disk space for historical information.
  • SNMP can be used to collect CPU and memory utilization and that just isn’t available yet using NetFlow.

Conclusion

SFlow vs NetFlow vs SNMP, the differences are hence clear: SNMP for standard network monitoring whereas SFlow/NetFlow for high traffic network traffic collection, monitor and analyze. As for SFlow vs NetFlow, consider SFlow enabled data switch for multiprotocol network and NetFlow for IP based traffic that demands for improved accuracy and scalability. Vendors on the market are shipping out switches that support Sflow, NetFlow and SNMP, so when purchasing your next switch, a best of breed solution is the ideal investment. FS.COM offers quality copper switch, fiber switch and Gigabit PoE switch including 10Gb Ethernet switch, 25G Ethernet switch and 40/100Gb switch. For more information, feel free to reach us via sales@fs.com.

What Is Link Aggregation and Link Aggregation Switch?

1GbE network is ubiquitous at the edge of network, but it is reaching the limits as the demand for bandwidth continue to soar. Since 10 Gigabit network is still out of reach for most homes and small businesses, it is possible to upgrade to 10GbE without piling up the cost? You can surely make it by implementing link aggregation and link aggregation switch. We’re going to share some insights on deploying link aggregation with Ethernet switch.

what is link aggregation

What Is Link Aggregation and Link Aggregation Switch

Link aggregation allows one to combine multiple network connections in parallel to increase throughput, and to provide redundancy in case one link goes down. Besides, link aggregation load balance enables the processing and communications activity to be distributed across several links in a trunk, thus not overwhelming a single link. Moreover, improvements within the link are obtained using existing hardware, so you don’t have to upgrade to higher-capacity link. To configure link aggregation, we need to apply a standard, vendor-independent link aggregation protocol that supported by IEEE 802.3ad – LACP (link aggregation control protocol).

configure link aggregation switch

Link aggregation technology can be used for core switching equipment such as link aggregation switch. Link aggregation switch, or LACP switch, is to set up or configure switch to achieve this technology. Link aggregation switch can be Gigabit Ethernet switch or 10 Gigabit switch that supported LACP.

What Are the Benefits of Link Aggregation Switch?

Before reaping the benefits of link aggregation switch, check to see if your devices can fulfill the following prerequisites.

Generally, all of the aggregated links must:

  • be in full duplex mode
  • use the same data transmission rates (at least 1 Gbit/s)
  • use parallel point-to-point connections
  • connect to precisely one endpoint on a switch or server. Link aggregation using multiple switches to one link-aggregated endpoint.

If all the above requests are fulfilled, then you would get these benefits after setting up link aggregation.

  • Increased reliability and availability. If one of the physical links in the link aggregation group (LAG) goes down, traffic is dynamically and transparently reassigned to one of the other physical links.
  • Better use of physical resources. Traffic can be load-balanced across the physical links.
  • Increased bandwidth. The aggregated physical links deliver higher bandwidth than each individual link.
  • Cost effectiveness. A physical network upgrade can be expensive, especially if it requires new cable runs. Link aggregation increases bandwidth without requiring new equipment.

How to Configure Link Aggregation Switch?

Here is a step-by-step guide for setting up link aggregation between link aggregation switches in your network. Before getting started, confirm the following aspects:

Make sure that both devices support link aggregation.

1. Configure the LAG on each of the two devices.

2. Make sure that the LAG that you create on each device has the same settings for port speed, duplex mode, flow control, and MTU size (on some devices, this setting might be called jumbo frames).

3. Make sure that all ports in a LAG have the same virtual local area network (VLAN) memberships.

4. If you want to add a LAG to a VLAN, set up the LAG first and then add the LAG to the VLAN; do not add individual ports.

5. Note which ports on each device you add to the LAG, and make sure that you connect the correct ones.

6. Use Ethernet or fiber cable to connect the ports that you added to the LAG on each device.

7. Verify that the port LED for each connected port on each switch is blinking green.

8. Verify in the admin interface for each device that the link is UP.

The video below illustrates the procedures to set up LACP between a Cisco switch and FS network switch.

Conclusion

Link aggregation is the efforts made to set up parallel network structures to provide redundancy, or to improve performance, increases bandwidth and provides graceful degradation as failure occurs. Configure link aggregation switch can be made easier if you properly perform the above instructions. FS.COM is committed to research and develop data switch and Gigabit PoE switch solutions for SMBs, enterprise networks and data centers. For more details, feel free to contact us via sales@fs.com.

Related Article: LACP vs PAGP: What’s the Difference?




Why You Need a Managed 8 Port PoE Switch

Gigabit PoE switch, or power over Ethernet switch, has seen massive adoption these days by providing improved network flexibility and performance. A Gigabit PoE switch transmits both data and power supply simultaneously to network devices such as VoIP phones, Wireless AP and network cameras without changing existing Ethernet cabling structure, which in turn, greatly reduce the cabling complexity as well as the cost of installation and maintenance. These exists 8/10/16/24/48 port PoE switches with gigabit speed and essential managing functions, among which a 8 port Gigabit PoE switch is poised as a cost-effective choice for home and business use. Let’s see what we can achieve with a 8 port PoE switch.

8 Port PoE Switch: Managed or Unmanaged?

Like choosing a standard data switch, we’ll inevitably find ourselves in a dilemma: should we choose a managed or unmanaged Gigabit PoE switch? The answer is pretty easy and straightforward – a managed PoE switch is always better. Managed switches typically offers advanced security features and allows for administrators visibility and control. Besides, a managed PoE switch also offers higher level of manageability and control, so you’re able to program each port individually while keep the network operating at peak efficiency. This results significant saving on power and cost. Additionally, a managed Gigabit PoE switch is capable of configuring, managing and monitoring the LAN – setting/disabling the link speed, limiting bandwidth or grouping devices into VLANs.

gigabit poe switch

How to Use a Managed 8 Port PoE Switch?

Managed Gigabit PoE switch has become a preferable option for enterprise networks, with dramatically decreased price, expanded feature sets and improved ease of use. Experience from those who have dealt with a managed 8 port PoE switch also demonstrates that this is a journey well worth taking. You can use a managed 8 port PoE switch to creates VLANs and limit access to specific devices, to use Layer 3 routing capability and to remotely monitor network performance.

Common applications of a managed 8 port PoE switch includes the following aspects.

Connect IP Cameras, Wireless Access Points and IP Phones

To connect this PoE enabled device, you need to know the power consumption of these device, as well as a total power/ power per port of your PoE switch. For example, you have a managed 8 port PoE switch with a power budget of 250W with the maximum power consumption per port 30W. Assume to power an IP Camera network, you’ll need a total power per port of 30W. Then you can connect all the 8 ports with IP cameras with a total power consumption of 240W (within the budget of 250W).

Voice over IP phones Enterprise can install PoE VoIP phone, and other Ethernet/non-Ethernet end-devices to the central where UPS is installed for un-interrupt power system and power control system.
Wireless Access Points Museum, sightseeing, airport, hotel, campus, factory, warehouse can intall the WAP anywhere.
IP Camera Enterprise, museum, campus, hospital, bank can install IP camera without limits of install location – no need electrician to install AC sockets.

The key applications are illustrated as following.

8 port poe switch application

Connect Non-PoE Switches and Devices

One of the frequently asked question is that whether we can mix PoE and Non-PoE devices on the same PoE network. The answer is positive. PoE will only send power if it requested by the device. Otherwise the switch just interacts with it as if it were a regular switch. When connecting a managed 8 port PoE switch to non PoE compatible devices, a PoE splitter is commonly adopted – it delivers data and DC power through separate connections.

mix poe switch with non poe switch

FS.COM 8 Port PoE Switch Solution

Managed gigabit PoE switch has become a better choice if you ever anticipate advanced network features to meet business growth. A managed 8 port PoE switch is the best fit for SMB network and home use with relatively small traffic flow. FS.COM fully understands customer expectations and offers managed 8 port PoE switch with the price starting from $159. Besides, we also provide 24 port PoE switch and 48 port PoE switch to help future-proof your network and unleash the potential of your business. Feel free to contact us via sales@fs.com for more solutions.