The router is the term we commonly use to call a device providing our house a network. It is a network hardware which will allow your home’s local network to communicate with the Internet. For example, your personal computers can be used to access the Internet thanks to you have a router.
You can more accurately call these routers that are being used in small networks or houses as residential gateways. However, I don’t believe that you can ever see someone call them with that term.
What are routers for?
Routers serve as the first security line protecting your local network from intrusions. Remember that enabling the security level of the router to the highest is best for safekeeping your information. It is also the most optimal way to keep your own computer system clean.
In routers, there is specific software that we usually call firmware. These should be updated as soon as the manufacturer of the router release a new patch.
Most of the routers can be linked to other devices in the network only through network cables. Thus, they do not at all need drivers when operating on Windows or some other operating system.
Routers connect using FireWire or USB to computers, however, do need drivers’ help to properly operate.
More often than not, routers will act as DHCP servers for the small networks and issue some unique IP addresses.
The most major router-making companies are Cisco, TRENDnet, Motorola, D-Link, Belkin, 3Com, and Linksys. However, there still are quite a lot more small companies.
Capabilities of routers
Routers possess far more capabilities than some other networking devices like switch or hub that can only do basic stuff.
For instances, hubs can transfer information between network devices or computers, but they will not analyze or do anything else. In contrast, routers can analyze the information, change its packaging, or send it toward some different networks.
The way that routers work
Routers will serve as a link from the modem – which can be either DSL, cable, or fiber – to some other devices in the network. Thus, it will allow for communication between them and the vast world of the Internet.
The majority of the routers, even the wireless ones, often have numerous network ports. These things will be serving to link several devices simultaneously to the Internet.
Usually, a router uses physical connect through some network cable. It will be linked to the modem through the “WAN” or “Internet” port. Then, it will physically link again through some other network cable to the network interface card. The card is in the wired device of the network that you are using.
Wireless routers can link through numerous wireless standards to the devices which also have that same specific standard supported.
The “Internet” or “WAN” connection will be assigned the type of IP address that we call public IP address.
On the other hand, the local network or “LAN” connection will be assigned the kind of IP address called private IP address.
The private IP address that a router is usually assigned with is typically the default gateway. This means that it will be serving for all the network’s devices.
Wired routers that have numerous connections, as well as wireless routers, typically act as simple switches for networks. As a result, they will have the job of allowing the devices in the network to communicate with each other.
For instances, numerous computers being linked to one router can get configured to have specific traits. One of those traits is the ability to share files as well as printers with each other.
Different kinds of routers
On the market, there currently are numerous unique kinds of routers. For example, there are core routers, which is mainly ISPs’ purview. They are undoubtedly the most powerful as well as fastest.
These kinds of routers sit at the internet’s center and forward information through the major fiber optic backbone. The largest of organizations will be using the enterprise routers to connect their own networks to the core routers.
Edge routers, which we can also call access router, are devices with lower capacity located at a LAN’s boundary. They will be connecting that LAN to the external LANs, the internet, and/or a WAN. We call the routers usually used in small offices as well as houses as subscriber edge routers.
Branch routers mainly serve as the link between the remote office locations of an organization to its WAN. They will be linked to the main location network’s edge routers.
The branch routers usually have some additional features installed. For example, they may have WAN application accelerating, wireless LAN managing, or time-division multiplexing capabilities.
The potential distance that wireless routers can reach
In the normal situation, if the wireless routers are placed indoor, then it can potentially reach up to 150 feet.
On the other hand, if any wireless router is placed somewhere outside of the house, then it can reach at the maximum 300 feet.
Of course, in real life, there can be numerous obstructions like walls and other kinds of objects. In these cases, then the indoor potential range can be even more limited to 75% or even less than that.
There will always be a time when you will feel the need for making changes to your network’s working method. Then, this can be done through accessing the software already installed on your routers.
Some of the reasons that may justify you logging in to the router are: updating the router’s firmware, changing your wireless network names, changing the passwords of your Wi-Fi, setting up rules to port forwarding, encrypting your network, change the login passwords of your routers.
There are, of course, some other tasks relating to routers management. For example, you may need to reboot the router or completely reset the software of your router.
Before you buy a router
You do need to consider a multitude of things before making a router purchase. For example, you should know for sure how fast it has to be to carry the internet speed you are using. In addition, the power of the router is also necessary to know so that all the devices can have access to the Internet.
For instance, you want to purchase Wi-Fi routers that will be serving numerous devices, like phones, computers, tablets, printers, etc. In the case of your house being small, then you can get away with using only one router.
However, if your house or office is big enough, then you should use some Wi-Fi extenders or mesh networks.
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How much can router cost you?
At the moment, 802.11ac routers are usually listed as under $100 for the models that are dual-band and basic.
Of course, there are quite a lot of other models that can cost you a lot more, ranging upward to $300. However, they do indeed deliver with much better coverage.
As I have written above, if your house is quite large, then you can also consider getting the mesh routers. They can help tremendously in the covering of the whole house.
There has also been newly developed kind of routers that use the Wi-Fi 6 standard. Of course, they are also quite expensive and can sell for over $400.