Network Switching : Working, Types, Differences & Its Applications

Network switching is the procedure to forward packets toward the destination. Once data approaches a port is known as ingress whereas data leaving from a port are known as egress. Generally in big networks, there are various paths from the transmitter to the receiver. So, the finest route for the transmission of data will be decided by a switching technique. This technique is simply utilized for connecting the systems to make one-to-one communication. So this article discusses an overview of network switching – types, advantages, disadvantages & applications.

What is Network Switching?

Network switching can be defined as when the process of guiding network traffic from one path to another path or one device to another device. In computer networking, network switching is an essential component that allows data to be sent very efficiently between various network devices over a network. The network switching diagram is shown below.

Network Switching
Network Switching

A network switching is a set of interconnected nodes called switches. Switches are used to establish temporary connections between many devices that are connected to the switch. In a switched network, some of the nodes are simply connected to the end devices whereas others are only used for routing. Every switch in the network is connected to the above node.

How Does Network Switching Work?

The network switching in computer networks simply assists while deciding the finest way to transmit data if there are several ways within a larger network. These networks may have various paths to connect the sender & receiver. So, whenever we transmit any data between the sender & receiver then the data will switch through various routes.

Whenever we send data from one device to another device then the data doesn’t reach that device directly because there are various intermediate nodes in the center as well as the information switch throughout these nodes.

Network Switching Types

There are three types of network switching techniques like circuit switching, message switching, and packet switching which are discussed below.


Circuit Switching

Circuit switching can be defined as; whenever two nodes are communicating with each other above a dedicated communication lane. In this type of switching, a circuit should be established for transmitting the data, so that the data transfer can occur. The circuit switching applications have to go through these phases; set up a circuit, transmit the data, and detach the circuit. This type of switching was mainly designed for voice-based applications. So, a suitable example of this switching is the Telephone.

Circuit Switching
                                    Circuit Switching

The advantages of circuit switching are; it has a dedicated communication channel and fixed bandwidth. The advantages of circuit switching are; it is expensive as compared to other switching techniques, takes much time for connection establishment and it is not efficient to use when the path is established, etc.
Please refer to this link to know more about Circuit Switching.

Packet Switching

In packet switching, the message is transmitted in one go, and although it is separated into smaller pieces & they are individually transmitted. The process of dividing messages is called packets which are specified with an exclusive number to recognize their order at the end of receiving.

Each packet includes some data in its headers like the address of the source, the address of the destination & series number. They will move across the network by taking the direct lane as possible. At the receiving end, all the packets are recollected in the correct way. If any packet is corrupted or missing, then immediately the message will be sent for resending the message. So if the right order of the packets is achieved, then the acceptance message will be immediately sent.

Packet Switching
Packet Switching

The advantages of packet switching are; cost-effective, reliable, and very efficient. The disadvantages of packet switching are; this technique cannot be executed where low delay & high-quality services are required, needs high implementation cost, the protocols utilized in this switching are extremely complex, etc.

Please refer to this link to know more about Packet Switching.

Message Switching

In message switching, a message is sent like a whole unit & routed through in-between nodes upon which it is stored as well as forwarded. In this type of switching, there is no dedicated path establishment between the transmitter & receiver. Message switching simply provides a dynamic routing when the message is routed throughout the middle nodes depending on the available data within the message.

These switches are simply programmed in such a way that they provide the most efficient routes. Each & every node in this switching simply store the whole message & after that forwards it to the next node. So this kind of network is called a store & forward network.

Message Switching
  Message Switching

The advantages of message switching are; message priority is used to handle the network, the message size which is sent above the network can be easily changed, traffic blocking is decreased because the message is stored temporarily within the nodes, etc. The disadvantages of message switching are; this should be equipped with adequate storage to allow them to store until they are forwarded, a long delay occurs because of the storing as well as forwarding facility, etc.

If we think on how to choose a Network Switching Technique ?

Each of the three types of network switching has its own advantages and disadvantages and the best one to use depends on the specific needs and characteristics of the network and the data being transmitted.

Circuit switching can provide high-quality, predictable connections, but it can also be inefficient and costly.

Packet switching is widely used in modern networks and is efficient for transmitted data in bursts, but it can vulnerable to congestion and delays.

Message switching is rare and generally used only in specialised applications, such as military or scientific networks, where reliability is more important than speed,

Therefore, there is no single “best” type of network switching and the appropriate choice depends on the context and requirements of the specific network applications.

Real time examples of switching networks

Here are some examples  of the different types of network switching used in various applications.

  1. Circuit Switching: This is commonly used in traditional telephone networks, where a dedicated circuit is established between two parties for the duration of the call.
  2. Packet Switching: This is in Internets where the data is divided into packets and send individually across the network.
  3. Message Switching: This is rate and generally used in specialised applications, such as military or scientific networks. For eg,  message switching is NASA’s Deep Space Network , which uses message switching to communicate with spacecraft in deep space, where transmission delays are significant and reliability is critical.

Difference b/n Network Switching and Routing

The difference between network switching and routing are discussed below.

Network Switching


Network switching is mainly used for switching data packets between devices on a similar network. Routing is used to Route packets between various networks.
There are three types of network switching circuits, packet & message. There are two types adaptive and non-adaptive.
It works within the data link layer. It works within the network layer.
There is no sharing port for bandwidth within network switching. The bandwidth is shared dynamically in routing.
It is used only by LAN. It is used by both LAN & MAN.
The data in switching is transmitted in the frame form. The data in switching is transmitted in packet form.
In switching, there is no collision occurs. In routing, less collision occurs.
It is not well-suited to NAT. It is well-suited to NAT.
It requires a network connection. It doesn’t need a network connection.
For data transmission, it uses a MAC address. For data transmission, it uses an IP address.
It is not expensive compared to the router. It is very expensive.
The maximum speed ranges from 10 to 100 Mbps. For a wireless connection, the maximum speed ranges from 1 to 10 Mbps, and for a wired connection, it is 100 Mbps.
It needs at least a single network for connecting. It requires two networks for connecting.
Network switching has only a single broadcast domain. All ports within routing have their broadcast domain.
It uses content-accessible memory tables for finding MAC addresses to arrive at their destinations. It stores IP addresses within routing tables & keeps an address on its own.
The data is transmitted in two modes like half duplex and full duplex. The data is transmitted in only full duplex mode.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The advantages of network switching are discussed below.

  • Network switching increases the available bandwidth.
  • It increases the performance of the network.
  • It supports virtual LANs & thus helps in logical segmentation.
  • They reduce frame collisions within networks that utilize them by simply making collision domains for every connection.
  • It helps in reducing the workload over individual host computers & supports centralized management.
  • This switching establishes a connection with workstations directly. In addition, they allow numerous simultaneous conversations.
  • It increases the capacity of accessible data transfer in the organization.
  • They reduce the load on each host PC.
  • It enhances the bandwidth available for the network.

The disadvantages of network switching are discussed below.

  • Compared to network bridges, these are very expensive.
  • The issues of Network connectivity over network switches are very hard to trace.
  • IP addresses can be captured by Cyber attackers or spoof Ethernet frames once the switching is within a promiscuous mode.
  • They do not function very well once used as a diversion for limiting broadcasts.
  • The issues of network availability are very hard to be followed throughout the organization switch.
  • The proper arrangement & planning are necessary to deal with multicast parcels.
  • It should have physical contact with the object to be activated.


The applications of network switching are discussed below.

  • Network switching is the procedure of channeling data received from any no. of input ports to another selected port that will send the data to its preferred destination.
  • In huge networks, there are various paths from the transmitter to the receiver. So, the switching technique will decide the finest route for the transmission of data.
  • Switching in computer networking is the data packet transmission or block of data throughout an n/w switch.
  • An n/w switch transmits data between devices, not like routers, which transmit data between n/ws.

1). Does Switch Have an Ip Address?

The network switch has IP Addresses, so in production, it needs to be a fixed address for monitoring & re-configuration purposes.

2). What is the Purpose of Switch in a Network?

The purpose of a network switch is to connect different devices in a network frequently a LAN or local area network & forwards data packets from & to those devices.

3). What is Meant by Switching in Networking?

Switching in networking is the practice of a signal directing or data element to the destination of particular hardware. It may be applied in a variety of formats & can work in different ways in a better network infrastructure.

4). What is Network Switch used for?

A network switch simply allows a minimum of two or above IT devices for communicating with each another. In addition to connecting with PCs and printers, these can also be connected to other switches, firewalls & routers to provide connectivity to extra devices.

Thus, this is an overview of network switching – working, types, differences, advantages, disadvantages & applications. Network switching simply connects devices within a network to each other by allowing them to communicate by simply exchanging data packets. Here is a question for you, what is networking?