What is a router? Router types explained

Routers are, without doubt, some of the most underappreciated computer peripheral devices of the modern era. Without them, the world would not be able to enjoy the kind of connectivity that it does today. Routers were in the news recently following reports that some of them had been hijacked by the CIA and were being used to eavesdrop into target computers.  So, what is a router and why is it important in networking?

Definition of a Router

A router is an electronic device that has the important task of receiving data packets on a network, calculating the optimal path, and forwarding them to their destinations. A router is, in essence, a special type of computer that has been designed with a specific function in mind.

Where do you find routers on a network

Routers can be found on the gateways on any network. A gateway is a place where one network meets another.

Why are routers important?

Routers enable computers to receive and send data packets between networks. Without them, traffic would not be able to flow across the internet. They work with modems to bring internet to homes, offices and mobile devices.

Types of Routers

Routers come in a wide range of types. If you have internet connectivity in your home or in your office, you probably have one;

  1. Wireless Routers: These have become popular over the past few years, as more and more people get connected to the internet through mobile devices. A wireless router actually uses a wired connection to get access to the internet. It then creates a wireless network that can be accessed by any device within range that has a wireless capabilities.  If you wish to limit access, it is necessary for you to secure access to the wireless network using a password. This way, only those people who have the password will have access.
  2. Wired Routers:  Wired Routers are another common router type that can be found out there. They connect the computer to the network directly using wired connections. A typical router will have one port that is used to connect the router to the modem, and others that are used to connect several computers to the router. All of the connections are, as we have already stated, wired. The router thus acts as a link between the computers and the modem. It, in essence, has the important task of sending data packets to the various computers. The most known type of wired router is, perhaps, the Ethernet broadband router. Wired routers can also be used for data packet distribution to phones and fax machines.
  3. Virtual Routers: The types of routers that we have just describe so far are physical in nature. Virtual routers, on the other hand, are software based, although they still have the important task of distributing data packets between connected computers.

Hope we have answered the question “What is a router?” We do have to admit that our write-up was a bit non-technical. If you need other useful tips, why not read our article on changing the password on a TP-Link Router. You can even read our article on Cloud Computing while you are at it.

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