How Does a Router Work?

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A lot of us have routers in our homes and use them everyday. However, have you ever stopped to wonder how these devices actually work? Most of us know they allow us to use the internet on our connected devices like cell phones, laptops, and smart TVs, but from there, things tend to get a little blurry. So, let’s break down exactly how a Cradlepoint router works.


First off, there are two types of routers: wireless and wired routers. Wireless routers connect directly to a modem by a cable. This allows the router to connect your devices to your WiFi network and then to the internet. Wired routers are a bit different. These routers connect directly to a computer through wired (as the name suggests) connections. Then, ports connected to the computer and other devices (i.e. cell phone, tablet) transfer and distribute information.

A router acts as a dispatcher of sorts for all of your devices, deciding the best route for all of the information to travel. It has the ability to transport IP packages (a package of data with an Internet protocol (IP) address) from one network to another network. It also manages all of the traffic coming in and out from all of your devices and disseminates the data to the respective networks.

Routers find the fastest “data path” to other devices and networks, and then send these data packages along specific paths in the most efficient way possible. They do this by finding the “metric value” or preference number. Should a router find two different paths to send the data, it will choose the path with the lowest metric number to send the package. All of those metric numbers are then stored in a thing called a routing table. A routing table (which is kept on your router) is a list of all various possible pathways in your network. When routers receive IP packages that need to be forwarded elsewhere in the network, the router looks at the packet’s destination IP address and then searches for the routing information in the routing table.

Those that manage routers will need to become familiar with routing tables in order to troubleshoot them when they need repairs. If one knows how to find out a packet’s destination IP address, they can determine if the package is being forwarded, how and why the package is being sent somewhere else, or whether the packet has been discarded.

When you get internet connection in your home, your internet service provider (ISP) will likely install both a router and a modem in your home. However, they will mostly likely require you to pay a subscription fee for the use of these devices. Instead, some people opt to purchase a router and modem on their own. Before doing this, it is important to consider a few important things such as the WiFi performance in your home (i.e. how strong the signal is where you live/ how close the nearest cell tower is to your home), what kind of security measures you need to put in place to protect your cybersecurity, and probably the most important: whether you can confidently control and set up the router on your own.

Overall, routers are pretty interesting little devices that help connect all of us to each other via the internet every single day. If you have a router in your home right now, it might be useful to learn a little more about how it works, the brand it’s from – like Cradlepoint, and the basics on how to troubleshoot it when it malfunctions. This could save you some money in professional repairs down the road.


Vishal Gaikar

Article by Vishal

Meet Vishal Gaikar, the tech wizard hailing from Pune, India, who's on a mission to decode the digital universe one blog post at a time. When he's not tinkering with gadgets or diving deep into the digital realm, you can find him concocting the perfect cup of chai or plotting his next adventure. Follow his tech escapades on Twitter and buckle up for a wild ride through the world of innovation and geekery!

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