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Difference between Router and Gateway

Routers and Gateways are two terms that are widely used in networking. However, both terminologies are looking as synonyms to each other. But in reality, some of their features are overlapped with each other. And many times, a single device performs the features of both Router and Gateways. In this article, we are going to discuss Routers and Gateways and their major differences.

What are Routers?

A Router is a networking layer system used to manage and forward data packets to computer networks. Data packets are sent through the e-mail and web pages in the form of data packets. It is responsible for analyzing, forwarding, and receiving the data packets to other networks. The packet's destination or target IP address is determined by a router, and the best way to transmit the packet is also determined by using forwarding tables and headers.

A Router is linked to two or more data networks from different IP addresses. When a data packet comes in the line, it reads the network address data in the packet header to decide its destination. Using the routing table or routing policy directs the packet on its path to the next network. It is primarily used in Wide Area Network (WAN) and Local Area Network (LAN) domains. It is more expensive than the other network devices such as the hub, switch, and many more.

What is Gateway?

A gateway is simply a device or hardware that acts as a "gate" between the networks. We can also define it as a node that acts as an entry for other network nodes. It is also responsible for facilitating the traffic flow within the network. Gateway uses more than one communication protocol, so its activities are more complicated than a router or a switch.

A gateway is essentially a system used to communicate between networks with different protocols and are responsible for converting one protocol into another. The gateway is a computer device that's responsible for routing traffic from the primary workstation to the outside network for every workplace form. It is responsible for providing access to the internet for households, thereby serving as an internet service provider.

Main Differences between the Router and Gateway

Here, we are going to discuss the main differences between the Router and Gateway.

The complexity of the Components

The single access point in the gateway outside the network is the main difference between router and gateway. Based on the gateway's criticality, it either serves as a server with the gateway application installed or acts as a linking mechanism to others between several computer networks. The two networks should have a gateway that allows the networks to communicate as an entry and exit endpoint if any N network wants to reach the M network. Gateways are doors to the network that determine the network's boundaries and edges. In comparison, routers determine the minimum possible distance from computer M to computer N to be transported by data packets.


Routers have to be secluded from being filled with massive data and heavy traffic. It is important to ensure that congestion between the routing paths can be minimized acceptably, so several routing tables should be designed to map the network's data travel process. Whereas the gateway is important, since it is the endpoint for the network, it should be highly protected to avoid a virus attack. The data passes via the gateway could be easily accessed. If a single router is flooded or granted, the particular router can be disabled by the customer. In order to get the data over the network, another router determines the shortest possible way. However, if the user eliminates the gateway, it leads to the whole down of the network.

Components Configuration

The routers are designed with a list of IP addresses from the routing tables that can transfer the router data. While the gateway is configured by specifying the recommended internal and external IP addresses, it has two ports to iterate between routers and gateways for internal and external IPs.

Routing and Managing the Traffic Flow

The two devices are used to monitor network traffic between two or more different networks. However, a minimum of two network cards can be applied in the system if the user finds it difficult to manage traffic. The gateway handles traffic between two similar networks easily, while routers control the same network's traffic flow.

Head to Head Comparison between the Router and Gateway

Let us discuss the head to head comparison between Router and Gateway through the below tabular form.

Features Router Gateway
Definition A Router is a networking layer system used to manage and forward data packets to computer networks. A gateway is simply a device or hardware that acts as a "gate" between the networks. It could also be defined as a node that acts as an entry for other network nodes.
Working Principle Usually, routers run on the 3rd layer of the protocol and transmit the packets from one system to another. A router chooses the network's path to transport the data packets. Gateway interprets the network system as endpoints from one packet to another.
Hosting It is available only to dedicated applications. It is hosted on the dedicated application, physical servers, and virtual applications.
Networks It routes the data packets via similar networks. It connects two dissimilar networks.
Deployment It is deployed on the router hardware in a specific appliance. The gateway is deployed as the virtual or physical server or the specific appliance.
OSI Layer It can operate only on 3 and 4 layers. It can operate only on the 5 layers.
Dynamic Routing Router supports dynamic routing. Gateway doesn't support dynamic routing.
Associated terms The router is also called a wireless router and an Internet router. The gateway is also called a gateway router, proxy server, and voice gateway.
Component's Operating Process The router operates by installing different routing data for different networks, and the destination address is based on traffic. The gateway works by distinguishing between the network structure and the components available outside the network.


Since gateways and routers perform completely different functions, both are important for a network. A gateway serves as a single access point and a converter to connect dissimilar networks using different protocols, while a router sets the shortest path for the data packets to travel from source to destination.

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