If you are trying to set up a wireless network you may be looking to compare a network bridge vs a router. The best routers are full-featured devices, but can they compete with a dedicated network bridge? Keep reading to find out.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Network bridges are the preferred method of wireless communication between intra-network devices.
  • A router, on the other hand, is the better fit for wireless communication to and from the Internet.
  • Bridges tend to be found in highly trafficked and large professional networks, whereas routers are designed for average consumers.

Differences Between a Network Bridge and a Router

A network bridge and a router feature similar feature sets, though a standard router offers the ability for more connections, as a simple bridge will not forward along any traffic that is not destined for a known address in their local data table of networking devices. Beyond this, the differences here are subtle, such as when you are comparing a client router vs a client bridge.

Insider Tip

If your router features a bridge mode, engage it for optimum intra-network communication.

Also, a bridge broadcasts traffic to single broadcast domains, whereas a router broadcasts a form of packets to multiple domains. Here are some more differences between the two wireless network interface devices.

Commercial Use

A network bridge is, essentially, a repeater used to connect various points within the same network. As such, your network bridge devices are a mainstay in large commercial enterprises that feature plenty of intra-network traffic. For your average consumer, a standard wireless router will offer all the features you need. As a matter of fact, many high-end routers include a dedicated bridge mode to mimic this functionality, if you are looking to compare bridge mode vs router mode.

LAN and WAN Connections

Routers typically feature the ability to create a wide area network (WAN) connection and a local area network (LAN) connection. The former is your standard Internet connection and the latter is best suited for intra-network devices. Network bridges, on the other hand, can include just LAN interfaces, eschewing WAN connections entirely. This is yet another reason why a regular wireless router is the better choice for average consumers.

Function Location

This bit of minutiae may not matter to your average consumer, but a network bridge operates at the data link layer of a wireless network while a router operates at the network layer of the OSI model.

Cost

Routers are more inexpensive than network bridges, as the latter is more of a specialized device for commercial and office use. As a matter of fact, Internet service providers (ISP) will often include a free router upon signup, though never a network bridge.

F.A.Q.S

Where to find your model number?

If you are looking for the model number of a router, a wireless bridge, a multiport bridge, or any bridged network or remote network device, try the back or bottom of the unit.


Can I replace a bridge with a router?

In theory you can, though a bridge will not forward on the IP address or packets of information to many intelligent devices.


When should I use bridge mode?

If you are using a second router on your Ethernet networks, entering wireless bridge mode could be a good idea.



STAT: A network bridge is a computer networking device that creates a single, aggregate network from multiple communication networks or network segments. This function is called network bridging. (source)

Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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