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The Difference Between a Hub and a Router

For someone who needs a quick clarification on the matter, a hub combines all linked computers or workstations into a network, while router links two separate and distinct networks to each other. Hubs generally operate at layer 1 of the open system interconnection (OSI) reference model as compared to the layer 3 of the routers.

The explanation given above may be sufficient for an individual who possesses a background with the workings of an OSI reference model. But for an average Joe who has yet to trudge the intricate world of networking, the explanation may raise more questions than answers. Devoid of networking knowledge, one can easily get confused with regard to the difference between a hub and a router.

Computer Networking

When one wants to link two computer units together, he may opt to use cables and wires to physically connect the two. This is the most basic form of networking. However, what if the person requires that more than two computers and a few peripherals be connected? Will he be obligated to purchase network cards for each workstation? Certainly not. Here enters the need for a device that will receive the signals transmitted from one computer unit and transfer it to one of the few other machines linked within the network.


This is one tool that can answer one's networking problems. Basically, this is a multi-port repeater, which connotes that the signals that travel into one port get conveyed into each and every port simultaneously. This is essentially what a hub does---forwarding electrical signals. It does not distinguish electric signals or care to look into the pieces of data themselves. One can simply send a packet over a cable linked to a hub and the data will still be transmitted to all other ports.

This is a plain and straightforward device, not to mention that it is affordable and easy to use.

Why the Need For Routers?

Why not link all computers using several hubs? Unfortunately, networking is not that simple. There exists a fundamental scheme or system arranged into the networks that are being used today. This is the basic principle: only a single machine linked to a network may transfer or share data at any given time. Only one. This is due to the fact that one cannot have a bunch of electrical signals concurrently flowing in a single cable.

Imagine two individuals talking at the exact moment. Odds are, no one will understand any information disseminated. This applies in the field of networking as well, but in grander and more serious scale. The collision and corruption of packets is the consequence rooted from a synchronized transmission using a hub.

But to be fair, when two computers do send a file at the same time, the computers will inherently back off and halt (for a certain amount of time) any further transfer of data. After the temporary queue, the machine will yet again try to send off the data. This may be bearable for a small-scale network. However, at this day and age, with the amount of traffic a network may receive, a hub is definitely out of the picture.


This is practically a computer bearing a couple of network cards, thus, connecting two networks and enabling the computers within the networks to send and share data while bouncing off unsolicited transmissions coming from whichever. Usually, networks may be physically or logically split, though either way a router is still needed.

A router is also responsible for detecting a remote network path. Going into details will entail much more than a few pages of explanation. But in a nutshell, what occurs is that the router begins to construct a routing table in its internal memory where the topology of the linked networks is housed.

And as for the name, the router acquired the same because of its function - to route packets to other networks. Ergo, a router.

Benedict Yossarian is specialises in internet marketing. Benedict recommends Comm store for networking hardware and Cat5 Cable.

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