Jul 09 2010

What is a hub? switch? router? access point?

Category: Computers & Internet


These 4 devices have different capabilities but they are all used to connect a computer from one to another, one network to another, or both. With all of these network connection points, it can be confusing as to what device does what.

Hubs allow networked computers the ability to communicate with each other. Any information (packets) that is passed from hub goes to all computers connected to it. They have the ability to send and receive data; however they can they can’t do both simultaneously. A hub is typically the least expensive and least sophisticated routing device. They are also quite a bit slower since they are not smart enough to manage the flow of information being passed.

Switches are the same as hubs with a few differences. Switches have the ability to differentiate data so that only certain information is passed within the network. They also can send and receive data faster and simultaneously. So basically a switch is a smart hub.

Routers let computers and networks (the internet) communicate either through a standard ethernet cable or wirelessly. Routers will usually be equipped with a built-in firewall and will be more expensive than switches and hubs.

Access points or (WAP) wireless access points allow increased wi-fi or wireless connectivity for wired connections. Hubs, switches, and routers are often added to an access points to increase the range of the network and connection.

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