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Of the many home devices that many people become confused about, the internet router is one of the most common. Chances are, you have a router in your home, but have no idea exactly what it does or how it works with your smart devices or how long your router will last. In simple terms, a router is a machine that communicates between the internet-connected devices in your home and the internet. The name comes from the fact that it routes traffic in this way.
But you might want to get to grips with the working of your internet router a little more than that. Let’s take a look at just what a router is, and how it works.
What’s The Purpose Of A Router?
You can think of an internet router as being like a first line of defense for the network in your home. Because of the huge reliance that most of us have on the internet in our homes today, it is important to keep it secure. In the same way that you wouldn’t keep your doors and windows open, you also need to keep your internet connection protected. The router is an invaluable part of that process.
How A Router Provides Security
- With the highest security settings on a router enabled, your network has a number of security measures in place – not least, the firewall, which is an important way of guarding your computer and other devices from malicious attacks.
- Most modern routers also allow you to create a ‘secured network,’ which locks the network and assigns it a password. This is the password that you have to type into your computer the first time you log onto the network. This ensures that passers-by cannot easily log into your wireless internet network.
- However, any amateur hacker can tell you that a password alone is not necessarily all that safe. That’s why routers also give you the ability to specify the devices that are allowed to connect to the home network. This is known as ‘restricted access’.
- It is possible for hackers to install malicious code onto your device by lurking in the background of a website you visit. To help with this, most routers enable you to define an internet access policy, restricting access to specific websites.
Connecting Multiple Devices
So, a router is an important part of the process of keeping your network safe from external attacks. But that is not all a router does. Another primary function of a normal internet router is to allow you to connect more than one device to the internet in your home. These days, that might sound elementary, but it’s important to remember that you would not necessarily be aware of this as a need. In fact, there is no reason you would need a router to connect to the internet if you had only one device (and you didn’t care about security). But if you are to connect to the internet with two or more devices, a router is essential.
Allowing Wireless Connection
These days, most people want to connect to the internet wirelessly. After all, that is what we have all become used to. If you want to connect to the internet wirelessly on your laptop, then an internet router is the way to do so. You will need to ensure that your router is set up for wireless connection – although, if you are buying a router today, it almost certainly is.
What to Look For
Although most modern routers allow for wireless connection, they are not all made alike. Some will be more suitable than others, and there are a few things to look out for when you are looking for one:
- Coverage – you’ll need the router’s wi-fi coverage to be able to cover your entire home.
- Performance – there’s good wi-fi and poor wi-fi, and there’s no use spending money on the latter.
- Security – some routers are simply more secure than others when it comes to connecting to wi-fi.
- Control – you want a router that you can control easily and change the wi-fi settings at your leisure.
How Routers Work
We have so far looked at some of the purposes of a router, and how they can differ. Let’s now get into some of the more technical stuff, and discuss the issue of how exactly it is that routers function. You will probably find this fascinating if you have never looked into it before – and if you have, it might be a useful refresher.
For a router to connect to the internet, there needs to be a modem. This modem might be a fiber one, a cable one, or what is known as a DSL modem. The router connects this modem to the devices in your home that you want to connect to the internet – computers, phones, tablets, and any smart home appliances. Most modern routers have several network ports, meaning that numerous devices can connect to it at the same time.
Connections, Wired & Wireless
There are at least two physical connections in a router. One connects the router to the modem via a cable. The other connects it to the network interface card in the machine to be connected to the internet. Of course, the router is also able to connect wirelessly to any device set up with that ability.
A router is essentially a small computer. Like any other computer, it has a CPU (Central Processing Unit), and memory, in order to manage the tasks assigned to it. Routers can be managed in whatever way might be necessary for your needs via a computer, once everything is connected.
You hopefully now understand the essentials of what an internet router actually is, and some of the basics of how it operates. With a router in your home, you can connect multiple devices to the modem, ensure greater security for the network, and avoid having to pay your ISP for numerous connections for each computer. You can also connect wired and wirelessly to many kinds of devices. If you are in need of a router, you will now know a little about what to look for.