A router is hardware device designed to receive, analyze and move incoming packets to another network. It may also be used to convert the packets to another network interface, drop them, and perform other actions relating to a network. The picture shows the Linksys BEFSR11 wireless router and is what many home routers resemble.
A router has a lot more capabilities than other network devices, such as a hub or a switch that are only able to perform basic network functions. For example, a hub is often used to transfer data between computers or network devices, but does not analyze or do anything with the data it is transferring. By contrast, routers can analyze the data being sent over a network, change how it is packaged, and send it to another network or over a different network. For example, routers are commonly used in home networks to share a single Internet connection between multiple computers.
In the above example, of a home network, there are two different types of a router: the router and the wireless router. In this example, the router allows all the computers and other network devices to access the Internet. The wireless router allows a laptop to wirelessly connect to the home network and access the Internet as well. Below are some additional examples of different types of routers used in a large network.
Short for bridge router, a brouter is a networking device that serves as both a bridge and a router.
A core router is a router in a computer network that routes data within a network, but not between networks.
For information on an edge router, see our edge device definition page.
A virtual router is a backup router used in a VRRP setup.
For information on a wireless router (Wi-Fi router), see the access point definition page.
How far can a router reach?
The typical range for a wireless router is about 150 feet when the connection is indoors and up to 300 feet outdoors. That being said, obstructions such as walls and other objects can reduce the indoor range to 75% of maximum distance or less.