Applied Science / Information Technology Essay

Router: what is it, and what is it for?

The router allows communication between the local network and the Internet. Find out everything you need to know about it: definition, operation, different categories. We (almost) all use the internet, but many people don't know how this technology works. Among the various elements necessary for the proper functioning of the Internet, there is the router. The router is a device allowing communication between a local home network and the Internet. The local home network can be, for example, a personal computer or a connected object.

Routers

A router is a device that allows data (more precisely data packets) to be sent between different networks. Each package is sent with the recipient's address. Everyone already has a router at home. It's quite simply our internet box. Free, it is also able to manage the devices connected to it. It is ideal for connecting a television, printer, NAS, multimedia hard drive to enjoy it at home and even from the Internet (on some Boxes).

Routers go further than Switches:

- First of all, they can act as a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server. It is the system that assigns an IP address to each device connected to the network. This is the main function that we look for on a Router. 

- The router incorporates a NAT (Network Address Translator) system that allows you to assign a list of IP addresses on the local network (LAN). It is due to NAT, for example, that you will be able to assign an address to your Raspberry Pi or to your home automation server so that it no longer changes address during a restart. 

- Finally, it incorporates a firewall to protect the LAN.

WiFi routers

The fashion being hybrid, the router is no exception. It has even become the standard for consumer hardware. You can also use a WiFi router to add an additional access point to your network and extend the WiFi network's coverage while adding a few more Ethernet ports. In this case, it will suffice to configure the router as a gateway. WiFi achieves a theoretical speed of 300 Mbps allowing the broadcasting of HD video streams. Some models are now compatible with the Google Chromecast.

What is a router, and what is it for?

As mentioned before, a router primarily allows communication between a local home network and the Internet. A router also protects the network from possible intrusion. Thus, by activating the highest security level on the router, it is possible to protect the computer and the information it contains against cyber-attacks.

Routers contain software called "firmware." As a precaution, this software must be updated each time the router manufacturer deploys an update.

Router: how does it work?

The router connects a modem to other devices in order to allow communication between these devices and the Internet. Most routers have multiple network ports to allow multiple devices to be connected to the Internet simultaneously. Typically, a router physically connects to the modem through a network cable through an Internet or WAN port. It is then also physically connected via a cable to a network interface card of devices to be connected to the Internet. The router analyzes the destination IP address of a data packet, calculates the best route to reach its destination, and sends it.

Most routers connect to other network devices only through cables and do not require drivers to run on Windows or other operating systems. However, this is not the case with routers that connect via USB or FireWire. There are also wireless routers that can be connected using different wireless standards to devices compatible with the same standards. Wireless routers act as network switches that allow devices to communicate with each other and exchange information. The IP address assigned to the WAN or Internet connection is a public IP address. In contrast, the IP address assigned to the local area network (LAN) connection is a private IP address. The private IP addresses assigned to the router are usually the default “gateway” for the network's various devices.

Basic components of routers

Like a computer, the router consists of a CPU and memory. Several network adapters establish a connection to the networks that are connected to the router. The adapters are usually connected to the router's CPU via a system bus. The CPU, in turn, holds the routing table in the main memory of the computer. 

LAN interfaces:

Most routers have one or more LAN interfaces, depending on the topology for Token-Ring, Ethernet, 100BASE-T Fast Ethernet, FDDI, or ATM. For the connection of the corresponding media, alternatively usable ports (e.g., Ethernet AUI, BNC, RJ45) are available, or the connection is implemented as a plug-in unit and can therefore be adapted to the requirements.

Different providers at different speeds offer WAN lines. The costs and the interfaces vary accordingly. For smaller connections (e.g., workgroups), connections with a transmission speed of 64 Kbit / s are recommended. There are, of course, applications where a lower transmission rate is sufficient. If higher transmission rates are required, the E1 connection common in Europe (in principle, an ISDN primary rate connection) with a transmission rate of 2048 kbit / s is recommended. Routers have one or more WAN ports that are either permanently installed or, in the case of modular models, can be upgraded with appropriate interface modules. The usual physical interfaces for synchronous operation are RS449, V.35, and X.21; for asynchronous operation, the RS232 interface.

Router: what are the different types and the main manufacturers?

The market leaders make most routers: Linksys, 3Com, Belkin, D-Link, Motorola, TRENDnet, and Cisco, but many other manufacturers.

There are also different types of routers. The "Core" routers are the fastest and most powerful. Internet service providers use them. Located at the center of the internet, they transfer information through the main fiber optic backbone. Corporate routers allow large corporate networks to be connected to these “core” routers.

An “Edge” router, also known as an “access router,” is a lower capacity device. It is located at the edge of a local area network (LAN) and allows this network to be connected to a WAN, the Internet, or external LANs. Small office routers and home routers fall into this category.

The router in bridge mode

The idea is to keep the ISP's box for Internet access in general and add a router on the network to benefit from advanced functions: this is called bridge mode (not to be confused with the box in bridge mode, which we discuss below). Depending on the firmware options (the router's operating system), different configurations are possible, including use as a Wi-Fi repeater, as seen above. We then have access to advanced functions, such as limiting access hours for your blond heads, creating a sub-network for various reasons, etc. We will stay in basic cases; otherwise, you probably already know how it all works.

Operating principle of the router in bridge mode:

The advantages are numerous:

- the router/firewall replaces the Wi-Fi of the box or comes in addition to the latter

- it possibly replaces the 100 Mbps switch off the box (or is placed, once again, as a compliment)

- it is generally easier to configure and offers more options (that's what we pay for, usually)

You just have to find the router that will allow you to make a functional bridge mode because some models are not capable of it. Note also that this solution does not replace the limited possibilities of "firewalling" of the Internet box since this function remains the box's responsibility. Note also that the router must be properly adjusted to avoid complicating the local network with a double NAT (box + router). In general, however, the packets often regain their young, do not panic, but the router's bridge mode is used precisely to avoid the problem.

ROUTER TYPES

Not all routers are the same. DSL and WLAN routers are often used in home networks. Both devices differ in the composition of their components, the price, and the connection technology. In the business sector, high-performance routers such as software routers and backbone routers are used.

HOME NETWORK ROUTER

DSL ROUTER

A DSL router contains network switches as components. The disadvantage is that you cannot surf wirelessly with this device. However, if the devices to be integrated into the network are close together, and cables do not disturb you, then purchasing a DSL router is more cost-effective than its wireless alternative.

You also don't need any additional hardware here if the signal from the WLAN is insufficient. Even without radio, you do not have to worry that an unauthorized person can use your DSL connection without being asked.

WLAN ROUTER

This device includes a router, switch, and WLAN functionality in one which variant you choose depends on how you intend to use it later. If you want to use a network with WiFi technology at home, then the WiFi router is the ideal device. If you want to set up a network without WiFi exclusively via cable, then you should use the DSL variant. However, it is important that the WiFi signal can be dampened by thick walls or electrical appliances so that you also need a WiFi repeater. This amplifies the signal so that you can surf wirelessly throughout the house. In terms of price, a wireless router is more expensive than a DSL router.

BUSINESS ROUTER

SOFTWARE ROUTER

This type of communication system analyzes and forwards data packets not via network cards, but via software. Here the software router is somewhat similar to home routers, as these also work on the basis of software. However, the difference is that a software router has an operating system (mostly Linux or UNIX) and a computer with, for example, a firewall and e-mail servers. Administration, however, requires extensive experience in computer technology.

BACKBONE ROUTER

This device is also known as a high-speed router and is mostly used by larger companies. Due to the device's optimized operation, data packets can be analyzed and forwarded more quickly, which enables increased Internet speed. Instead of up to 300 Mbit per second, these high-end routers achieve a data flow rate of several gigabits per second.

Other routers on the market include ADSL, VDSL, ISDN, LAN, VoIP, VPN, 3G UMTS, and 4G LTE routers.

AREAS OF APPLICATION

Internet connection: 

In addition to the modem, the router (also: network router) is necessary to be able to establish a connection to the Internet. The router receives the data fed in by the Internet provider and translated by the modem in order to forward this as an Internet signal to other end devices in the network - via WLAN or LAN cable.

Local network:

With the router's help, you can also set up a local network and send data packets via VPN to other devices in the network - online from anywhere. As an interface between your own network and the Internet, the network router acts as a transmitter to other end devices, such as laptops or tablets.

Is a modem necessary in addition to the router?

Yes, because the router itself cannot receive the data that reaches you through the telephone or cable socket. This is where the modem comes in, which translates the data for the router. Only then can the router receive these signals and send them to the other devices in the network. NowadaysRouter: what is it, and what is it for?, there are many modems with integrated WLAN or DSL routers so that you no longer need an external device.

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