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Router vs Windows 2003 Server


I reading in Windows 2003 Server and I found there in a great tools in (Administrative Tools) called (Routing and Remote Access), we can add a static and dynamic routing protocols and manage our server like a router.

My question is what is different between Server running with this technique (plugging with more that one NIC card) and router.



Super Bronze

Re: Router vs Windows 2003 Server

For the most basic routing, not much difference.

However, routers often offer many other features, both hardware and software. For instance, it might be difficult to find support for frame-relay (hardware) or advanced QoS features (software) on a Windows server.

Additionally, for LAN bandwidths, Windows server might not be able to support full wirespeed for even two ports, where a L3 (routing) switch may support multiple ports at wirespeed.


Re: Router vs Windows 2003 Server


I have never used a Windows server as a router, but I know there are applications in which it may be useful.

Thinking of it intuitively, I would say that a Windows server will not offer all the functionality and features that a dedicated routing appliance offers.

Similarly, a Cisco router can offer DHCP services, but it is not as robust or as flexible as a Windows or Unix box dedicated to that function.



Hall of Fame Super Blue

Re: Router vs Windows 2003 Server


I personally wouldn't be comfortable using a Windows Server for all but the simplest setups and even then i have my doubts.

Apart from the excellent points raised by Joseph and Victor one of the key issues is security. Windows 2003 Server is a full blown OS capable of running many services. It is not a specialised piece of kit, more a jack of all trades and as such is harder to secure properly.

Routers are more specialized devices. They don't need to run a graphics subsystem, they don't need a 101 different device drivers for all the possible things you could connect into them, they don't need filesharing, printing etc.. all of which may have vulnerabilities. Routers are also quite important devices in that if compromised the traffic flow within your network can be completely changed.

That is not to say there are not vulnerabilites on routers either but in general they are more secure that most OS's.


Hall of Fame Super Gold

Re: Router vs Windows 2003 Server


I recently did a project for a customer where they decided to deploy a router into an existing small network where the existing routing was provided by a Windows server with IP forwarding enabled. Some of their considerations in doing this included:

- routing and forwarding in the server is doing entirely in software and in a general purpose box. When they changed to a router they were getting a box where the routing and forwarding is in a specialized box with hardware assist for most of its forwarding. So there is a performance difference.

- they were able to implement a better security environment by doing more effective examination of traffic going in and out and filtering unwanted traffic.

- they were also concerned that since this connection was to the Internet that the Windows server was subject to more vulnerabilities than the router would be.

- the possibilities of routing protocol to use are greater on the router than on the Windows server.

As others have pointed out, if your requirements are simple and basic a Windows server can do an adequate job of routing and forwarding. But if the requirements get more sophisticated and if there is any concern about forwarding performance then a router has particular advantages over the Windows server.



Community Member

Re: Router vs Windows 2003 Server

Prior to protocols like HSRP and VRRP hosts like unix and windows boxes had RIP enabled so that they could find resilient paths out out of the network on failure of a primary router.


Re: Router vs Windows 2003 Server

For most small environments, I prefer Vyatta since it is Linux-based and can do a lot of things and with much higher performance than a Cisco 2851 or even VXR7204. Vyatta is free

my 2c

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