What is a router?

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Well if you don’t have a background in computers, you might just think that a router is the tool you use for woodworking. You aren’t wrong, but the kind of router, I’m talking about is the kind that you would have in your house to connect your computer and devices to the internet.

This whole post was started by a podcast on Howstuffworks.com called, “What is a router?” This very information podcast helped to fill in the blanks and teach me some new things that I never knew about router.

OK. So, let’s start with the basics of network communication before we get to what a router is. There are 7 layers of communication, but to get to understand what a router we only need to know the first three.

layer 1 – a device. the information moving around inside it
layer 2 – device to device. a direct connection between the two devices or multiple more devices locally located creating a network
layer 3 – networks talking to other networks (AKA the internet)

OK…. DUN DUN DUN the magical router. So the router is the part that connects layer 2 to Layer 3. It can act and be programmed to be a firewall, a spam blocker, or detect intrusions into your network. SOOO…. You might be saying, “Tell me what it does! Already!!!”

Well the router is basically a simple computer that takes the information from your computer and devices, tags them, breaks it down into packets, launches them out into the internet, and then when packets come flying back at it, it resembles them and send them to the proper device. That sir, is the short and simple answer of what a router was. Yes, there is more technical stuff such as routing tables that where your router and other routers are mapping out the fastest ways to send information through the internet because the fastest way maybe not be the most direct way (look at Atlanta traffic). Or the fact that your router in your house gives each device in your house a unique identifier called a mac (media access control) address. The mac address lets the router know which device information came from and where to send it to when information comes in.

That’s all for now. Below leave a comment and let me know what you think about routers and my explanation…

 

source - http://podcasts.howstuffworks.com/hsw/podcasts/techstuff/2011-08-08-techstuff-routers.mp3