Switches and routers are similar, but they accomplish their tasks in different ways. Switches manage data and send it to specific computers on a network. Routers allow multiple computers to share a single Internet connection. The decision between a router or switch depends on your needs.
A managed switch can be configured according to a company's needs. Certain computers on the network can have access to certain data while others do not. Switches cannot allow an Internet connection to be shared, but they are useful in an office setting for easily distributing data over a network.
A router allows multiple computers to connect to the Internet through a single connection. The router manages the flow of data so that each computer gets the right information it needs. Routers also can be used to connect multiple networks.
Switches excel at speed. They are significantly faster than routers in raw transfer of data on the network. However, they cannot manage the connection of networks or an Internet connection.
Both switches and routers come in wireless models. Wireless switches work well for networks that span multiple floors and rooms where running wires might be a headache. Wireless routers also are useful for setting up an Internet hot spot. Many coffee houses and restaurants use routers to provide Wi-Fi Internet access to their customers.