I love routers! Do you really know all that your router can do? A modern router has multiple “cool” functions that many people don’t realize? Many of my elderly clients don’t understand what a router is or why they need one. This is what I tell them:
1) A router “pure and simple” is a device that passes data (such as web pages and email) between the home computer and the cable or DSL modem which connects to the Internet (through your Internet Service Provider). A router makes things much more secure because all Internet data must first pass through the routers firewall instead of going directly into the machine. The Internet can’t initiate communication with the computer – it’s gotta go through the router first. A router is like having a lock on a door. Don’t ever let the Internet into your machine without first passing through a router. A router can help prevent “malicious” information from entering your beloved computer! Great stuff!
2) A router can also function as a Wireless Access Point. Modern routers have a built in network adapter, antenna and radio transmitter. The router can relay data between wireless computers and printers and any wired devices on the network. The Kindle is a wireless device and the router allows it to connect to a wired network using Wi-Fi. Take your laptop anywhere in the house and connect to the Internet without wires. How awesome is that?
Also a lot of home entertainment now has built in networking. It’s hard to buy a new flat screen television nowadays that doesn’t have a wireless capability built in. If your television can connect to your network and access the Internet, you can watch movies (think Netflix) directly streamed online through your network, through your wireless, to your television. Now that is cool!
That’s not all. Do you know that you can actually get a wireless security camera that will connect to your router/Internet? This will allow you to check up on your home on any computer wherever you may be when you are away. Amazing!
3) The router can also function as a Switch. Most modern routers have physical network ports on the back that you can plug multiple systems into. Usually a home router will have four LAN (Local Area Network) ports on the back for wired connections. If you have eight systems you can just add another Switch to one of the LAN ports and you will have eight computers wired into one router. In fact you can keep adding Switches until you have over 200 systems physically interconnected. How cool is that?
Professor Randy says: Don’t ever connect to the Internet without hooking up a router to your modem. A router will protect you from malicious attacks, give you wireless capabilities, and allow you to connect more PCs to your network.