Would a Network Switch Work Before Your Router?

Modem/routers are not very cheap especially if you want a good quality router. One problem you will find with a traditional router is that it has only five ethernet ports. This kind of setup can be frustrating for anyone with many devices that they want to connect, and sometimes, a 24-port network switch might seem like the best option, but let’s take a look.  Can you put a network switch before a router?

You can technically set up a network where the switch goes before the router, but this creates a few problems. Firstly, your network might be unstable because a switch cannot allow multiple devices to talk to it simultaneously when it is plugged directly into your cable provider’s box. Another thing to consider is safety. A router provides something like a firewall that protects your network.

Setting up a network is not an easy thing to do, and that is why most people get professionals to come in and do the job even though that ends up costing more money. If you like to do things yourself and consider setting up a network with the switch going before the router, I highly recommend that you read this article, and hopefully, we can convince you not to.

Do you need more network ports for your home network? Check out our top pick for a switch

Can a Network Switch Work without a Router?

Technically, a network switch can work without a router, and therefore it can be placed before the router. However, this creates a few complications with your network setup. Most notably, if you try and use a network switch without a router, you will still be able to connect to the internet, and you will still be able to create and network, but it will be very unstable.

A network switch is significantly different from a router. Without getting too technical, think about the Ethernet ports on a router and those on a network switch. The router assigns a subaddress to each Port. Creating the subaddresses allows multiple devices to talk to the router at the same time.

If you put the switch before the router or if you exclude the router altogether, you will run into instances where only one device can talk to the switch at any given moment. It is a highly complex situation, but now you know why it is not advisable to use a switch or a router.

Is it Safe To Use a Network without a Router?

When we talk about the safety of not using a router in your network, we are primarily talking about how easy it becomes for people or hackers to infiltrate your network. Before we get into it, you might be thinking that it does not affect you as you have a typical residential network. Well, it is not that straightforward.

If you try and bypass using a modem router, essentially, you open yourself up to cyber-attacks. This is true even if you place the switch before your modem/router. For people connected to a small residential network, this might not seem dangerous at all. However, it would be best to consider how much valuable information you have on any device connected to that network.

If you have ever used online banking, received sensitive emails, or most notably, if you have sensitive data related to your work, a cyber attack can indeed be devastating. It is for this reason that having a good network router is essential.

A modem/router generally has a few security features that prevent people from intercepting any transmitted data on your network. Connecting your network switch directly to your cable provider can be dangerous. That is, of course, if you can successfully set it up in the first place.

3 Reasons Why You Need a Router

So, I am sure that by now, you have gathered that I advocate for people not to try and bypass having a router. I also advocate for people not to place a network switch before the router, even in technical network setups such as switch racks. The modem/router always comes first.

Because I advocate for using a modem/router, I will highlight three reasons why it is essential to use a modem/router in your setup and not try and use a network switch before the router.

  • Safety
  • Network efficiency
  • Wireless connectivity


As we have already highlighted in this article, safety should be a priority for anyone who sets up either an expansive residential network, a small one, or even an extensive office network.

If you do not take the correct safety measures to ensure that everything goes through a good router, you are essentially inviting people to try and hack your network. If someone does manage to hack into your network, you might not even know that they are doing it. They can do things such as switch on your webcams to see what you are doing.

They can read sensitive information such as your emails, financial statements, or even get into your bank account if the hacker is patient and good enough.

Better Network Setup

When you run everything through a router, you are essentially streamlining your network. Once you have set up a router, you can run ethernet cables to certain parts of your home or office and connect those cables to network switches that can extend the number of devices connected to your network.

You can also set up things such as network bridges which vastly expand the amount of wireless coverage that your home has so that every single corner of your home has a sufficiently adequate connection to the internet.

Finally, let’s say your network starts running slow, or perhaps the connection becomes unstable. Well, having a network router makes it easy to troubleshoot. And yes, the old cliché of “switch it off and back on again if it is running unstable” is actually true. It is recommended that you reset your network quite regularly, depending on how much you use it.

Because you have a modem/router, you can restart the router, and it will restart your network. In some cases, you do still have to reset your network switches but not all the time.

Wireless Connectivity

A network switch is mainly used to expand the number of devices you can connect to, but it also uses a LAN environment instead of a WAN/WLAN environment. You can technically set up a wireless router after your network switch, but as we have already discussed, that creates complications within your network, and it is best to avoid this.

Having a wireless router at the beginning of your network setup makes things a lot easier, especially when you are setting up signal boosters, bridges, and network switches.

Is a Switch Faster Than a Router?

Because the network switch does not have all the features that a router has, it is faster than a router. However, this difference is so insignificant that 99.9% of people will not notice a difference, and in that percentage, I also include competitive gamers and stock market brokers.


That brings us to the end of this article, and I must add that I am not a huge fan of trying to persuade people not to do something, but I felt that it was essential to do so in an article like this. We rely heavily on the networks within our homes and offices. We live in a world that is becoming more and more connected, and if you have an unstable network, it can cost you a lot of time, money, and stress.

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