Switches, Hubs, Bridges, and Routers Explained

Computers talk to each other and the web in a variety of ways. This communication is facilitated by routers, bridges, switches, and other hardware. Tech Talker explains what these devices are, what they do, and which are best for your home's computer network.

Eric Escobar
5-minute read
Episode #101

Computers talk to each other and to the web in many different ways. This communication is facilitated by various devices such as routers and switches.

In this week's episode, I'll be cover just what these devices are, what they do, and which are best for your computing needs!.

As you probably know, there are quite a few devices that are help facilitate the communication of computers. Most of you are probably familiar with routers and modems, but there are also hubs, switches, and bridges. If you're not familiar with these, don't worry. Today, I'll go over what all of these gadgets do and hopefully clear up any confusion.

Routers and Modems

Let's start off with the most well-known of these devices, the router. Odds are, you have a router at home which allows your computers, phones, tablets, and coffeemaker to connect to the internet. Routers receive information in the form of packets, and these packets are addressed just like a letter.

Routers connect networks together, which for you probably means your home network and the internet. Routers use IP addresses to deliver the packets to the device they are intended for. What's unique about the use of IP addresses is that they can be used in different protocols (or ways of transmitting data) which make them more versatile on a network. I’ve covered routers in a previous episode, and actually just got an awesome new one for my home: Asus RT-N66U.

Many routers come with a built-in modem. Or you might have a modem separate from your router. A modem is a piece of hardware that converts one type of signal medium to another type of signal medium. In most U.S., households modems generally convert coaxial cable to ethernet or RJ11 to RJ45. Or, if you are one of the lucky few, it might convert fiber optic cable to ethernet. There are a bunch of different modems on the market, but my favorite is the Motorola Surfboard.

Now let's look at switches......


About the Author

Eric Escobar

Tech Talker demystifies technology and cutting edge devices so that even the most tech illiterate can understand what's going on with their computer or gadget — and what to do when something goes wrong.