What is a Modem, Firewall, Router, and Switch?

Jun 19 2015

There seems to be some confusion when it comes to describing what networking hardware one has in their location. I hope to address some of the common infrastructure confusion in this blog.

  1. Modem: this device is installed by the company who provides your internet, and in some cases, has their name on the device. (ex: PurePages, Bell) When you suspect your internet is down, this device is responsible for bringing in your connection from the outside world, and is controlled by those same people that bring you the internet.

  2. Firewall: usually an appliance that sits between a modem and a switch and houses software to scan for malware, antivirus as well as threat protection. The firewall communicates with the modem to receive information about the outside world, then makes it available to the internal network, and based on the capabilities of your firewall, will filter the data passing through to make sure what is entering your network is clean. You can also configure ports of your firewall to create V-Lans or virtual LANs in your network creating different subnets.

  3. Router: this device is usually situated just after the internet modem and from the router you can configure the ports to assign different subnets or IP addresses through specific ports on the router or just pass through the signal from the modem. The cheaper the router the lesser the capabilities. The router will read the data packets being received and direct the data packets to the proper destination.

  1. Switch: this device is generally used as a signal pass-through, which takes your data and sends it to where it is going (kind of like a train roundhouse.) Most companies from small to medium with a simple network will use an unmanaged switch, which will just pass the data through the ports. Larger companies will use a managed switch which allows more technical functioning of the ports.

I hope that this helps readers to better understand the functioning of the equipment that is within your network infrastructure.  If you find you are missing some of these items, or wish to upgrade your hardware, please give us a call at Mantralogix at 1-866-320-8922 and one of our team members would be happy to speak with you about options available to best suit your business needs.

Remember, your data is the lifeblood of your business and you want to do all that you can to protect it and your business.  Be smart and be safe, protect yourself.



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