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What is the difference between routers, switches and bridges ?

A router essentially determines which way is the shortest or fastest in a network, and routes packets accordingly. It works at layer 3 of the OSI model, moving packets from one port to another based on L3 addresses - ie. IP addresses, IPX addresses, etc.

A switch connects one point to another in a network temporarily by turning it on and off as necessary. It works at layer 2, with some intelligence (there are also some layer 3 switches, that essentially have routing capabilities).

A bridge connects one point to another in a network. It works at layer 1 and 2 of the OSI model. It only connects two segments of the network.

A bridge and a switch are very similar. In practice, a switch can be looked at as a multiport bridge - both have the same basic functionality. They move frames between ports based on MAC addresses. A lot of functionality can be added to switches, but the base purpose is the same. "Layer 3" switches can be looked at as a switch with a router inside.

For more information on differences, see the OSI model layers here: OSI model

  User Reviews/Comments:
by vijay - 2007-02-24 09:00
need more explanation for difference between the switches and bridges
by anonymous - 2008-03-17 11:54
what do you mean when you say one is permanent and other is temporary.
by Ayine Patric - 2012-05-15 09:23
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