What Is a Router? What Can it Do and Why Do I Need One?

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What is a router? A router is a device that handles the flow of information as it travels from one network to another. Learn how to use modern routers for home network needs.

There are many network devices that control the flow of information across different networks. However, the most important device of them all is the router.

A router is a hardware device that handles the flow of information (packets) as they travel from one network to another. Most modern routers intended for the use of home networks actually serve multiple purposes.

What is a router

A modern router with all functions:

  • It will transfer Internet traffic from a modem to your separate home network
  • A built-in switch creates your internal home network and manages your traffic [19659013] An internal firewall will filter malicious Internet attacks
  • Many routers also include parental controls to limit Internet access from home

In other words, a router that really is just a "router" will take traffic from a network, apply all the firewall and network rules that you have configured and then filter that traffic to another network.

However, modern routers tend to be multiple devices in one: a router, firewall, switch, and sometimes also a modem.

Things you can do with a router

In a typical scenario of a home network, the router can be purchased as a two in one box and includes the cable modem. The incoming wall cable (activated by the cable company) is inserted into the coaxial port on the back of the modem-router. In the router-only scenario, the coaxial cable is inserted into the modem. Then a network cable is connected from the modem to the router. This is the main Internet connection.

 connected residential router

In any case, the router provides the internal home network through several network ports on the back of the device. Once you connect the devices to the router and assume that your cable company has already enabled your Internet service, those devices will have access to the Internet.

If you have purchased a wireless router, you do not even need to connect to the Router with a physical network cable. You can simply connect to the wireless network that the router created for your home network.

And if you want Netflix to easily reach your Roku in the bedroom, you want a Wi-Fi router. In fact, virtually all modern routers for consumers in the market include Wi-Fi networks.

Configure a firewall

One of the most important features of any router is the fact that they come with a built-in firewall. These firewalls have improved over time and modern routers are very effective in filtering hackers who go through the Internet with port scanners and other tools looking for vulnerable devices connected to the Internet.

In the WAN configuration (for most routers) you will see the firewall configuration. On some routers, you can configure the firewall details, but on others, you simply have to make sure that Firewall Protection is enabled.

 Router firewall configuration

In general, you can at least tighten security by adding additional blocking functions such as deactivating the ping response and enabling elements such as Denial of Service (DoS) protection.

It is always a good idea to scan through your new router's firewall settings to ensure that security settings are set to a level that you feel comfortable with.

Block applications and services

Routers also give you the ability to customize what services and applications can communicate through your Internet connection.

You will find this in Security section in the menu Block services . Here, you will see that you can completely block specific protocols such as FTP, IRC or even specific games such as Age of Empire.

 router services block

This is especially useful if you have children in your home network who play games that you do not want them to play online. Blocking the application will prevent these applications from accessing the Internet. Your children will still be able to play the games offline, but they will not be able to consume their full Internet bandwidth.

Parental controls

While application blocking may fall under "parental controls", depending on what you do. When blocking, there are other settings that are specific to what parents are looking for when it comes to parental controls.

One of these is the ability to block Internet content. You will usually find this at Block sites .

 Block keywords on the router

With most routers, you can block specific websites by listing the entire domain. names, or you can filter pages by defining a list of keywords. If any of someone's visits to your home contains one of those prohibited keywords, the entire page will be blocked.

Another useful feature that routers offer these days is Internet access programming. Basically, this is turning off the entire Internet on specific days of the week, or between specific times of those days.

 set the schedule on the router

One of the most common uses of this is to turn off internet access during the late hours of the night at school nights. However, keep in mind that if you configure this, the Internet will be disabled for everyone in the home.

The most advanced routers will allow you to configure these programs for specific equipment by listing your MAC address and the Internet access program for that machine.

If you plan to use this parental control function, be sure to research and purchase a router that allows you to specify access times per device.

Monitoring your network

Another important thing You can use your router to monitor your network. This includes the status of your Internet connection and your internal network connections.

 monitor networks

Routers also include maintenance features that allow you to change the security password of your wireless network, or even perform a full factory reset on the router to reset everything to default settings.

You can also explore your internal network to see which devices are currently connected. This helps identify unauthorized devices, such as neighbors who may be using your wireless internet connection without your permission.

 monitor devices

You should always navigate through these status screens to ensure your security works correctly and make sure that only the devices you expect to be connected to your network really They are.

Routers are amazing!

As you can see, the router is one of the most important network devices in any home or business. . Manage and control all network traffic and protect your network from any danger that may exist. It also gives you more control over what is allowed or not in your own internal network.

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