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What is the difference between a bridge and a router?

What is the difference between a bridge and a router?

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A bridge is a product that connects a local area network (LAN) to another local area network that uses the same protocol (for example, Ethernet or Token Ring). You can envision a bridge as being a device that decides whether a message from you to someone else is going to the local area network in your building or to someone on the local area network in the building across the street.

A router is a device or, in some cases, software in a computer, that determines the next network point to which a packet should be forwarded toward its destination. The router is connected to at least two networks and decides which way to send each information packet based on its current understanding of the state of the networks it is connected to. A router is located at any gateway (where one network meets another), including each point-of-presence on the Internet. A router is often included as part of a network switch.

Note: Learn more about the difference between a bridge and a switch in this expert Q/A. 

 

This was first published in October 2004

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