What Is a Router Used For?

A router is a piece of hardware that networks devices such as computers, tablets and gaming consoles together and manages those devices communicating with the Internet. Routers can be wired, wireless or a combination of the two.

Newer models designed for home usage typically have four Ethernet ports for wired devices, a fifth port for connection to a modem, and a wireless networking antenna. Routers with wireless capabilities convert data received from the Internet into radio frequencies that are transmitted out to devices. Software built into routers helps transmit data to the proper location on the local network by assigning unique addresses to each device that connects. A firewall, software designed to prevent computers and devices on the local network from unwanted access from the Internet, is also standard in most home routers. Port forwarding is a router feature that tells the device to always send certain connection types to a device at a specific address.

Home routers may also have USB ports for easy way to share services such as a printer or an external hard drive storage to the network. Business routers are designed with less overall features but handle a greater amount of traffic from a larger number of devices connected at the same time. Routers used in business may have specialized uses, such as handling data for specific business servers, transferring data between other routers and providing secure connections to the Internet.