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What are Routers, Switches, Hubs and Access Points?
Routers, Switches, Hubs and Access Points are devices that allow computers to connect to each other. Each one works a bit differently, though.

You've probably heard people mention routers when referring to broadband connections. That's because a router's main job is to route an Internet connection to multiple computers on a network. However, that's not all it does. A router can allow you to share files between computers on your home network and some even let you securely access your files from other systems outside your home. A router also protects your network from the outside with a firewall.

Switches and hubs are almost the same thing, but with one difference. When you send data over your network, a hub will poll each computer it find the right one, each time you send data. This can be slow at times. A switch gets around this by allowing computers to send data to each other directly. A switch is essentially a smart hub. Switches are what routers use to transfer files between computers on an internal network. A hub or switch by itself won't provide the firewall capabilities that a router does. They are normally used to connect or expand connections on an internal network. When used in cobination with a router, they can allow more computers to connect to the Internet than just the 4, 6 or 8 that the router has connections for.

Access points are switches without router capabilites or wired network ports. Wireless computers can connect to an access point, but without a router, an access point won't go to the Internet. Wireless routers contain internal access points. An external access point can also be used to added wireless capability to a wired network.

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