What is a router, you might ask? Well, it’s a device that connects your internet service to the devices in your home, like laptops and gaming consoles. Many people call routers switches or gateways. But whatever you call it, a router does far more than give you ways to connect different devices to your network.
This article will go over everything you need to know about routers, including what a router is, how routers work, what to look for in a router, and much more.
What Is a Router For?
A router is a device that allows you to use multiple devices in your home to access the internet. It does this by dividing your home into different sections, called “networks.” Each network has its own password, which only people with the password can access.
A router can also help you share files, printers, and other devices between computers in your home. If you have multiple computers that are connected to the same internet connection, a router will allow them all to share it.
Routers can be used in many other situations besides sharing files or accessing the internet from multiple devices. For example, wireless routers can also be used to provide wireless connectivity throughout your house, so that anyone with a Wi-Fi device can access the internet without having to plug into anything!
When Do You Need One?
You may think that you need a router when you get a new computer, but the truth is that you need one long before that. Routers are the backbone of your home network, which means they’re the most important piece of equipment in your computer setup.
Routers allow for security measures like WPA2 encryption so that only people with the right password can get onto your network. So, if you want to connect multiple devices on your network or encrypt your network, then you’ll need a router.
How Routers Work
In simple terms, a router receives data packets from one computer and sends them on to another computer on the same network or sends them out onto an external network like the internet. A wireless router also picks up signals from wireless devices within its range and sends them to computers connected to its network.
In order to direct packets, a router uses an internal routing table—a list of paths to various network destinations. The router reads a packet’s header to determine where it is going, then consults the routing table to figure out the most efficient path to that destination. It then forwards the packet to the next network in the path.
Differences Between a Wired and Wireless Router
The main difference between a wired and wireless router is the way they connect to your home network. A wired router uses Ethernet cables to connect to your devices, while a wireless router uses radio waves to create a Wi-Fi network.
A wired router is ideal if you need reliable connections and speed, but it’s not as convenient as a wireless router. You’ll need to run an Ethernet cable from your modem to your computer, which makes it difficult to move around.
A wireless router lets you connect anywhere in your house with no extra wiring needed; however, this can sometimes cause slow or dropped connections when there are too many devices connecting at once.
What Is A Mesh Router?
Mesh networking is a way to connect devices to each other wirelessly, enabling them to share information and resources in order to function as a single network. It’s a decentralized method of networking that allows for robust and resilient communication between devices, even if some are offline or disconnected.
While mesh networks can be useful in homes and small offices, they’re also important in larger organizations where the infrastructure may not be so easy to manage. This includes many industrial applications like manufacturing plants and smart cities, large-scale deployments of IoT devices, and large-scale events such as concerts or sporting events.
Mesh networking was first developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in the early 2000s as an alternative to traditional Wi-Fi networks. Since then, it has become more widely adopted across industries for its ability to provide reliable connectivity regardless of geographic location or device type.
What To Look For in a Router
Oftentimes, your internet service provider will provide you with either a wired or wireless router when you subscribe to their internet service. However, these routers are usually not the best. If you want to purchase a better router, then there are a few things that you should look out for when shopping around.
When buying a new router, you should consider the router’s Wi-Fi coverage. A router’s Wi-Fi coverage is determined by its range, which is the distance at which it can broadcast its signal. You want to make sure that you can use your new router in every room in your house and even outside if you want to.
In order to get an idea of how well a particular router will work in your home, check out the number of antennas that it has. Generally speaking, the more antennas a router has, the further it can broadcast its signal, and the better it will be at penetrating walls and barriers.
When you’re shopping for a new router, you want to make sure that it can handle all the devices in your home without slowing down or disconnecting. A router’s performance is determined by the number of bands and channels it has, as well as its technology.
A router with more bands and channels will allow you to connect more devices at once. It’s also important to know that each band has its own frequency range and uses different types of technology. Some bands are better for certain tasks than others, so make sure you understand which ones are best for your needs before making your purchase!
One of the most important things to look for in a router is its security. The most secure routers include a combination of firewalls and intrusion prevention systems that will keep you safe by stopping online attacks, plus regular and frequent updates to make sure you’re always one step ahead.
Some will provide built-in VPN services to keep your browsing private from prying eyes, and come with settings that are secure by default, so you won’t have to be a networking expert to benefit from top-notch security
You should also make sure that your router has WPA2 encryption enabled by default (or at least an option for this). This will keep your network secure and safe from hackers and malicious attacks.
The last thing you’ll want to check out before buying a new router is its controls. You want a router that has the most customizable settings, so you can make sure your Wi-Fi is working as efficiently as possible.
Some routers have more controls than others—for example, some have parental control settings so you can restrict certain sites or apps from being accessed by kids. This is especially useful if you have children who like to watch YouTube videos for hours on end!
Other routers also have network management settings that allow you to see how much bandwidth each device is using and what programs are running on it. These features make it easy to manage your home network and keep track of how much data each device uses.
Recommendation & Conclusion
Your maximum internet connection speed is determined by your service provider, but routers that offer faster speeds still bring benefits when communicating with devices on your home network.
As mentioned above, mesh systems can ensure greater coverage and more reliable performance than single routers, but they aren’t always better. Much depends on the size and construction of your home.
The minimum specs we recommend are Wi-Fi 5 (IEEE 802.11 ac) support and WPA2 security, but if you really want to splash out, fo for for Wi-Fi 6 (IEEE 802.11 ax) and WPA3 security.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that we’ve gone over what a router is, what a router does, and what to look for when shopping for a new router, let’s answer a few of the most common questions that most people have about routers and their role in networking.
Is a router the same as a modem?
No. A router and a modem are two very different things. A modem is a device that you connect to your ISP (Internet Service Provider) via an Ethernet cable or wireless connection. It allows the ISP to deliver the internet to your devices.
A router is a device that you connect to your modem and then to your other devices. Its job is to send data from one device to another, and it does this by receiving information from your ISP over the internet and then sending it out again through an Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi signal.
What is a mesh network?
A mesh network is a group of wireless devices that talk to each other and pass information through them. It’s not like a traditional network, where you have one main device that acts as the “hub” for all of your other devices. In a mesh network, all of the devices act as “hubs.” If one device stops working, the rest of the devices are still able to communicate with each other.
Mesh networks are great because they’re self-healing; you can use them in situations where you might not be able to count on having reliable internet access. Mesh networks also offer better privacy than traditional networks because there’s less risk of someone hacking into your home router and accessing your data.
What’s the difference between a router and a modem?
It’s a common misconception that your modem and router are the same thing. But they’re actually separate devices that work together to help your home network function.
A router is a hardware device that sends internet signals to connected devices throughout your house. It determines how these signals are managed and sent, as well as how they’re secured. A router’s location on your home network determines what it can do.
For example, if it’s connected to an Ethernet port on your phone line, it can handle all of your internet needs. If it’s connected directly to your cable box or DSL modem, it can just handle those specific tasks (like sending video content).
A modem is another piece of hardware that connects to your phone line or cable line and allows you access to the internet by translating data from one format into another, in most cases, from analog signals into digital ones.