Routers are a vital component of home and business network connectivity. While a simple hub or a network switch can do the job of linking your computers together into a local network (to share files, play LAN-enabled games, or share a printer), you need a router for the critical task of linking two networks together.
In order to have all the computers inside your home or office network be able to talk to another network (such as the greater Internet) you need a router to act as a crossing guard. Data packets from within your network, such as requests for a web page, first make a stop at the router. The router determines that they are destined for the outside network and passes them along. In turn when the web server sends the page data back, that data makes a very short stop at the router before passing through to the appropriate computer on the inside of the network.
Most consumers use an all-in-one device, such as the popular Linksys WRT54G series routers, that combine multiple network functions into one device including routing, switching, and basic firewall protection.
- By Jason Fitzpatrick on 01/17/13