Do you know the difference between a bridge and a switch? Computer networks rely on various devices to control the exchange of data. Some networks use a bridge, for instance, whereas others use a switch. Bridges and switches are both destined to regulate the flow of data on a computer network, but they work in different ways.

What Is a Bridge?

A bridge is a networking device that connects or “bridges” two or more network segments. It allows the segments to communicate with each other. Therefore, bridges are designed to create a single network from multiple network segments. Bridges operate on layer 2 of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model.

What Is a Switch?

A switch is a networking device that forwards data from one device on a network to another device on the same network. Switches essentially connect the devices on a network so that they can communicate. Communication involves the exchange of data packets. With a switch, devices can communicate with each other by exchanging data packets. Switches operate on layer 2 of the OSI model as well.

Differences Between Bridges and Switches

While they both operate on layer 2 of the OSI model, bridges and switches work in different ways. Bridges are designed to connect multiple networks or network segments. Switches, in comparison, are designed to connect multiple devices on a network with each other.

Switches also support more ports than bridges. Most bridges only support two or four ports. Switches, on the other hand, can have up to 58 ports.

There are wireless bridges. A wireless bridge is characterized by the use of a wireless bridged network segment. If one or more network segments has been bridged and is wireless, the device is classified as a wireless bridge.

Another difference between bridges and switches is that the latter supports full-duplex communication. Switches allow for full-duplex communication, meaning the connected devices can send and receive data simultaneously on different channels. Full-duplex communication eliminates collisions and improved transfer speeds.

Bridges support the MAC address-based filter. They are designed to check the MAC address to filter and forward data. MAC address-based filter reduces network congestion and optimized bandwidth usage.

In Conclusion

There are other types of networking devices besides modems and routers. Two of the most common types of networking devices, for example, are bridges and switches. Bridges connect multiple networks or network segments, whereas switches connect multiple devices on a given network so that they can communicate with each other.