Within the community, there’s a group called Homelab. There you’ll find people with one thing in common: they love setting up a network within their own home. Why? Just because! Their discussion board is full of exciting things such as pictures of recently purchased hardware, network diagrams and a wiki for introducing a newcomer to their Homelab world. Sounds stunning, right?

If you’re like many small business owners, though, you aren’t a member of this world. In fact, you may often confuse switches and routers because what IS the difference, anyway?

Setting up and running a successful business network can be daunting. Here’s a quick run down on the difference between routers and switches that may help you when working on your business’s network hardware. Did you know that some devices may serve as both a router and a switch? Because of this, even the IT techs may get the terms mixed up!

Router: Your router is your network gateway between your devices (LAN or WAN) and the outside world (ISP). When a data packet arrives from the outside world, your router is in charge of sending it to the correct destination. You could think of this like the mail carrier who delivers an envelope to your buddy on their birthday because you wrote the correct address and zip code on it. Using IP addresses (both external and internally-assigned), your router delivers your mail from the internet to your LAN or WAN.

Switch: This is like a seating chart of your devices. It knows, using the MAC addresses, which computer, printer or other device is connected to it and where it’s located. Using switches, you can send data between computers within your network and also send it along to a router for data such as internet traffic or emails. Also, managed switches allow you to prioritize network traffic. For instance, you could give Skype the top spot so whenever you use it for business calls, you have the best bandwidth speeds.

Cisco put it this way: “Switches create a network. Routers connect a network.”

Whether you need a business network for data, VOIP phone systems or video calls, it is the foundation for your communications. The status and speed of your network can improve or hinder your profitability, cyber security and customer service. If you feel like you’re having to react to issues because of your business network, you’re not alone! We recently worked with the Massachusetts Golf Association (MGA) on several IT initiatives, including improving their network.

“ORAM changed our relationship with technology from reactive to proactive,” said Becky Blaeser, Director of Communications for the MGA. “They monitor each laptop and system, which allows us to stay ahead of the technology and devices that we have. It allows us to be more efficient, and shift our focus from ‘firefighting’ to strategic growth.”

We’re here to help you focus on your business’s profitability through affordable IT solutions. Let us know how we can help you focus on strategic growth as well!