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Do I Need a Switch or Router?


Sep 13, 2006
I'm embarassed to ask, but do I need a switch or router? I'm embarassed because I guess I don't really understand the difference. I thought routers joined networks while swtiches only parcelled out info. Maybe I've been using a router when all I needed was a switch?

well, here's the deal. I posted here a week or two ago complaining my internet connection wasn't quite functioning right. Ppl. here helped me diagnose the problem, and it looks like my router has gone bad (netgear fvs318 w/dhcp). Siince it looks like I'll need to replace the router, I was looking for one with more ports (beyond the 8 it already has). Couldn't really find one that didn't bust the budgie, so asked around. People wondered why I needed 10 or 12 port rotuer. I explained the various hookups I had (hard wired home netowrk), being a cable modem in, then voip phone, then two basic computers, NAS, and various ports for where we might take a notebook or xbox, etc. (most unused at any given time, but not wanting to swap in and out cables), and I was told I didn't need more than a 1 port router, but just a big swtich.

Would this work? I router, but a giant swtich. I hope so, can solve all my problems. If so, is there any advantage or disadvantage to another 8 or 10 or 12 port router?

thanks for my totally noob question, thought I was someone with my own home network, handwired, nas, etc., now I know I don't know chit.

curt j.


Sep 9, 2006
I was told I didn't need more than a 1 port router, but just a big swtich.

Would this work? I router, but a giant swtich.
Yes, it would work. A multi-port router is actually a router with a mult-port switch built in.

The router provides the WAN to LAN connection, isolates your local LAN addresses from the WAN (NAT), and provides DHCP services (assignes IP addresses to your computers, NAS, etc).

So, you can buy the router that trips your trigger, and if it does not have enough ports, then just buy a switch to add more ports. You just connect one of the LAN ports on your router to one of the ports on the switch. If you need 14 ports on your LAN, you don't need to buy a giant switch, either. You can buy multiple smaller switches and connect 'em all up either in a star arrangement or cascaded or a combination. How you wire them together may have some impact on performance, but in reality for a home network, you probably don't need to be concered with it.

I note the XboX - if you are doing on-line gaming, you may need to pay some attention to the performance impact of your LAN layout.

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