Close this search box.

Can I Use An Old Router As A Switch? Step-By-Step Guide 

Can I Use An Old Router As A Switch

Explore the possibilities of Can I Use An Old Router As A Switch?. Learn how to transform your outdated router into a useful device, enhancing your home network’s connectivity and efficiency. This guide offers step-by-step instructions and troubleshooting tips for a seamless conversion.


Technology is constantly changing, and repurposing old devices can be a cost-effective and sustainable method of upgrading your home network. The question that frequently arises in this context is, “Can I use an old router as a switch?” This fascinating question opens the door to a number of creative networking solutions. To extend the lifespan of your hardware, using an old router as a switch also allows you to expand the capabilities of your network without the need for additional expenditures. 

In this introduction, we will explore the practicality of transforming an old router into a network switch, outline the steps involved in the conversion process, and discuss the key considerations to ensure a successful setup. Anyone who would like to improve the efficiency of their home network while being aware of their budget and the environment will benefit from this approach.

Understanding the Basics

The importance of understanding the primary functions and key differences between routers and switches can not be overstated when exploring the world of networking.

Primary Function of a Router

Its main function is to route data packets between different networks, including connecting your home network to the Internet, which is a different network from your home network. To ensure that information reaches its intended destination across multiple networks, routers utilize IP addresses in determining the best path for forwarding data packets.

Moreover, routers typically include additional features such as DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) server capabilities, which assign IP addresses to devices within a network, and firewall capabilities for ensuring the security of a network.

Primary Function of a Switch

As opposed to a router, a switch operates within a single network. Its primary function is to manage the flow of data within the network by connecting various devices, including computers, printers, and servers. To efficiently direct network traffic, switches use MAC addresses (Media Access Control). Data packets are received by them and are forwarded to the appropriate device within the local network.

Key Differences Between Routers and Switches

  • Network Layer Operation: As described in the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, routers operate at Layer 3 (the network layer), dealing with network addresses (IP addresses) and making decisions based on those addresses. Switches operate at Layer 2 (the data link layer), handling data transfer within the same network.
  • Functionality: Data enters and leaves a network through routers, which are the gatekeepers. Switches, on the other hand, are used to manage connections and data flow within a single network.
  • Traffic Handling: Switches are responsible for switching data packets between devices on the same network while routers determine which path to use for forwarding data packets across different networks.
  • Additional Features: DHCP server capabilities and firewall protection are common features of routers, which are not included with switches.
  • Port Numbers: In general, routers have fewer ports than switches. The average home router has about 2 to 8 ports, while switches can have anywhere from 4 to 48 ports.
  • Network Complexity and Scale: Switches are suitable for simpler, single-network setups where multiple devices are required to communicate with each other. Routers are typically used for larger, more complex networks with multiple networks or subnets.

As a result, while routers and switches may appear to be similar, they serve distinctly different roles within a network. Routers ensure data is transferred between different networks, acting as the backbone. On the other hand, switches are particularly adept at managing internal data traffic within a single network, making them indispensable for the creation of efficient and organized network environments within single networks. To design and manage a network that meets specific needs and ensures seamless data communication, it is essential to understand these differences.

Can I use an old router as a switch?

Yes, you can use an old router as a network switch with a few adjustments. Here’s how you can do it:

Can I use an old router as a switch
Can I use an old router as a switch
  • Reset the Router: You must first reset your old router to its factory settings in order to remove any previous configurations that may interfere with its new function as a switch.
  • Disable DHCP: By entering the router’s IP address, access the router’s settings page. Disable the DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) settings. Your primary router should be the only device in your network that assigns IP addresses.
  • Assign a Static IP (Optional): The old router should be assigned a static IP address. This step is not mandatory, but it can make managing your network easier. The static address should be within the same range as your primary router, but should not be within its DHCP range.
  • Update Firmware (Optional): Update the firmware on your router if there is an updated version available. Updating the firmware can improve the performance and security of your router.
  • Connect to the Primary Router: Using an Ethernet cable, connect one of the LAN (not WAN) ports of the old router to one of the LAN ports on your new router. This makes your old router function as a switch.
  • Disable Wireless (Optional): You may want to disable the wireless function of the old router if you do not require a Wi-Fi signal. This can be accomplished in the router’s settings under the wireless section.
  • Test Your Setup: The last step is to connect a device to one of the LAN ports of your old router to test the connection. If everything has been set up correctly, you should be able to access the internet from this device.

These steps will guide you through the process of effectively repurposing an old router as a network switch, extending your wired network or increasing your Ethernet port count.

Troubleshooting Tips

You may be able to expand your network at a lower cost by converting an old router into a network switch. However, users may encounter several common difficulties during this conversion process. In this article, we will discuss these potential challenges and propose practical solutions to address them effectively.

Common Issues and Solutions

1. Internet Connectivity Issues

  • Problem: You may discover that devices connected to the old router do not have access to the internet after setting it up as a switch.
  • Solution: Make sure DHCP is disabled on your old router. Only the primary router should be able to assign IP addresses. Also, make sure the old router is connected to the primary router’s LAN port.

2. IP Address Conflicts

  • Problem: It is possible for devices on the network to experience connectivity issues as a result of IP address conflicts.
  • Solution: The old router should be assigned a static IP address, which is within the same subnet as the primary router, but outside of its DHCP range. This prevents two devices from being assigned the same IP address.

3. Performance Issues

  • Problem: There may be a degradation in network performance, particularly in terms of data transfer speeds.
  • Solution: You should update the firmware of the old router in order to ensure that it is operating efficiently. Additionally, it is important to consider the age and capabilities of the old router, as older models may not be capable of supporting faster network standards.

4. Limited Number of Ports

  • Problem: If the router-switch has been converted, there may not be enough ports to meet your needs.
  • Solution: Consider using an actual network switch if more ports are required, or combining several old routers configured as switches if more ports are required.

5. Wireless Interference

  • Problem: Wireless signals from the old router may interfere with other Wi-Fi signals if the wireless function is not disabled.
  • Solution: You can disable the wireless functionality of your old router through its settings in order to reduce Wi-Fi interference and improve the overall performance of your network.

6. Security Concerns

  • Problem: The security features on older routers may not be as advanced as those on newer models, which may pose a security risk.
  • Solution: Ensure that the router’s firmware is updated regularly for security patches. Consider investing in a newer model or a dedicated switch if the router is too old and lacks crucial security features.

7. Physical Connection Issues

  • Problem: There is a possibility that network instability or failure may be caused by loose or improper physical connections.
  • Solution: Make sure all cables are properly connected. Use quality Ethernet cables and ensure that they are free of damage or wear.

8. Device Recognition Problems

  • Problem: There may be instances in which connected devices are not recognized or unable to communicate with one another.
  • Solution: There are times when a simple reboot can resolve recognition issues as it refreshes the network settings of the primary router and the old router that has been converted to a switch.


Is it OK to use a router instead of a switch?

The reality of Internet connectivity is that routers are the VIPs of the online world, holding the key to your online domain. By contrast, switches serve primarily to mingle devices like matchmakers, primarily connecting them together. You need a router in your cozy home or petite office in order to access the internet, but you won’t find anyone mentioning a network switch unless you are hosting a large Ethernet party.

Can I use an old router as an Ethernet splitter?

It’s true – your router will take the place of the traditional switch. Basically, you need to plug your Ethernet cable into the router’s VIP input port first. Then connect your devices to the other Ethernet ports on your router and voila! Your network setup is complete without breaking any technical ice.

Why use a router over a switch?

Using a router, multiple switches and their individual networks can be linked together to form a more comprehensive network system, serving as the connecting hub in the network. It is essential to incorporate one or more routers when constructing a network in a small business environment so that it can effectively connect and expand. This setup can span a single location or stretch across multiple locations.

Can a router be a hub?

A router represents a sophisticated and smart networking tool, capable of actively managing network traffic, whereas a hub operates as a basic, unintelligent device without active data management. The need for wireless routers is paramount in the modern and increasingly complex world of networks. In addition to enabling data transfer across different networks, these routers also facilitate communication between various layers of a network.

What cable do I need for a router to switch?

In general, straight-through cables are used for connecting different types of devices, such as routers to switches and hubs, as well as computers to switches and hubs. Conversely, cross-over cables are used to connect similar devices, such as switches between switches, routers between routers, or computers between computers. Routing and switching are commonly configured using rolled cables, which are also referred to as console cables.


You can leverage the router’s additional Ethernet ports to expand your network’s connectivity without breaking the bank by repurposing an old router as a switch, which is both feasible and a savvy move. As a result of this creative reuse, electronic waste is reduced while outdated devices are transformed into valuable networking assets. So, if you are considering the fate of your retired router, consider giving it a second chance as a switch – a simple yet effective move towards a more sustainable and cost-effective network.

5/5 - (1 vote)

Leave a Comment

Follow Us on Social Media
Top Featured Products