What is a Router & How Does it Work?
A router is a networking device that connects different devices to the internet or to other networks. It is a fundamental component of modern computer networking, and it plays a critical role in enabling communication between devices. Routers come in many different shapes and sizes, and they can be used in a variety of different settings, including homes, offices, and data centres.
In this article, we will explore “What is a router?” “How does it work?” and some of the key features that you should consider when choosing a router for your network.
What is a Router?
A router is a device that is used to connect different devices to a network, and it is responsible for directing traffic between these devices. It can be thought of as a traffic cop for your network, as it controls the flow of data between devices.
A router connects to a modem, which is the device that connects your network to the internet. When a device on your network sends data, such as a request for a webpage, the data is sent to the router, which then sends the data to the modem. The modem then sends the data to the internet, and the requested web page is returned to the device that requested it.
How Does a Router Work?
Many of you might be wondering, “What is a router in networking?” Well, a router works by using a protocol called the Internet Protocol (IP), which is a set of rules that govern how data is transmitted across the internet. When a device on your network sends data, the data is broken up into small packets, which are then sent to the router.
The router then examines the destination IP address of the packet to determine where it should be sent. If the destination IP address is on your network, the router sends the packet directly to the device with that IP address. If the destination IP address is not on your network, the router sends the packet to the modem, which then sends the packet to the internet.
In addition to directing traffic between devices, a router also performs other important functions, such as providing security for your network. Routers often include features such as firewalls and network address translation (NAT), which help protect your network from unauthorised access.
Key Features of a Router
When choosing a router for your network, there are several key features that you should consider:
Many modern routers include built-in wireless connectivity, which allows devices to connect to the network without the need for cables. Wireless connectivity can be a convenient feature for homes and small offices, as it allows devices such as laptops and smartphones to connect to the network from anywhere within range of the router.
Ethernet ports are used to connect devices to the network using cables. Many routers include multiple Ethernet ports, which can be used to connect devices such as desktop computers, gaming consoles, and network-attached storage (NAS) devices.
Quality of Service (QoS)
Quality of Service (QoS) is a feature that allows you to prioritise certain types of traffic on your network. For example, you may want to prioritise video streaming traffic over file downloads, as video streaming requires a more consistent and reliable connection. QoS can also help ensure that your network performs well even when multiple devices are connected and using bandwidth-intensive applications.
Guest networking is a feature that allows you to create a separate network for guests to use when they visit your home or office. This can be extremely useful as it prevents guests from accessing your primary network and protects any sensitive data that may be stored on it.
Many routers include parental controls, which allow you to restrict access to certain websites and applications. This can be a useful feature for parents who want to protect their children from inappropriate content on the internet.
Types of Routers
Routers come in many different types, each designed for specific needs and applications. Here are some of the most common types of routers:
Home routers are designed for use in residential settings, and they typically include built-in wireless connectivity and a few Ethernet ports. Home routers are usually simple to set up and use, making them a popular choice for non-technical users.
Business routers are designed for use in small to medium-sized businesses and offices. They typically include more advanced features than home routers, such as support for Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), Quality of Service (QoS), and advanced security features.
Wireless routers are routers that include built-in wireless connectivity. They are designed to allow devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets to connect to the network without the need for cables. Wireless routers are available in both home and business models.
Wired routers are routers that only include Ethernet ports for connecting devices to the network. They are typically used in business settings where wired connections are preferred for their reliability and security.
Core routers are high-performance routers designed for large networks such as data centres and Internet Service Provider (ISP) networks. They are built to handle high volumes of traffic and provide advanced features such as routing protocols and load balancing.
Edge routers are routers that are located at the edge of a network, typically at the boundary between the network and the internet. They are responsible for connecting the network to the internet and for directing traffic between the two.
Virtual routers are software-based routers that run on a virtual machine or in a container. They are often used in cloud computing environments, where they can be quickly and easily deployed as needed.
SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) routers are routers designed for use in small offices or home offices. They typically include a few Ethernet ports and built-in wireless connectivity, but they may not include the advanced features found in business routers.
Modular routers are routers that allow for the addition of modules to add more functionality. This makes them highly customizable and versatile, as they can be adapted to meet specific needs and requirements.
The type of router you choose will depend on your unique needs and preferences. Whether you need a simple office router or a high-performance core router for a large establishment, there is a router available that will meet your needs. This was everything you needed to know about what a wifi router is and what to keep in mind while investing in a router.