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Router vs firewall, can you guess which is better?

Router vs firewall, another article that will put together two different technologies and see what they are good at. We will see another aspect of the “router vs firewall” too, which is the hardware firewall of a router vs a software firewall. Let’s begin.


A router is one of the network devices that handles network traffic. It does it by forwarding data packets between different computer networks. When the router receives the data packets, it will check it, and it will compare it with its routing table. Then it will decide to send it to the next network toward the destination of the packets or not. Most of you are probably familiar with the routers. You probably have one at home, which manages packets from the home computer to the internet.


Firewall, as the name suggests, is a barrier. Its purpose is to protect the devices behind it by filtering the data from coming to them and going from them and protecting from harmful communications like spam or viruses. It can be hardware, with router capability or just software, like the one Windows has.

Router vs firewall

To easily understand the router vs firewall topic, see this table:

Router Firewall
Purpose Directs traffic to its desire destination. Controls and limits the data.
Layer of operation Operates at the layer 3 (network), and layer 4 (transport) of the OSI model. Operates at layer 3 (network) of the OSI model.
Encryption It does not encrypt; it just directs the data. It encrypts the data before transmission.
Network sharing It can share an internet between different networks (LANs, WANs). It can’t share the networks, just protects them.

Hardware firewall vs software firewall

Now to a bit different subject, hardware firewall vs software firewall. Both protects you from malicious traffic, but they have some differences.

The hardware firewall can be a stand-alone device or a part of a router. Such a router is a simple and effective protection solution for your network. It reviews the headers of the data packets and decides if it can be trusted. If it thinks the packet is safe, it will forward it, if no, it will drop it.

A software firewall is a program that you can install on your computer. It can be a part of an antivirus suite or separate. It will protect from uncontrolled access to your computer. Depending on the software, it can keep you safe from Trojans and worms too. The difference with the hardware one, this one will protect just the device that has the firewall installed. If you need a firewall on all of your devices, you would need to install it on all of them. Another disadvantage of it is that it will run in the background, which will take some system resources and may lead to slowdowns.

We hope you understand what a router is and what is a firewall. If you like the router vs firewall article, you can see some of our previous “VS.” articles.

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Tags: , , , , , , , , , Last modified: July 26, 2021