Why Do I Need a Router for My Home Computer?

by Matt Koble

A router is a device that allows more than one computer to connect to the same Internet connection. Through either a wired or wireless setup, the computers connect to the router, which manages the Internet signals sent and received on your connection. Differing in price and function, these devices are available both for private home use and for use by businesses.

Sharing the Internet

One of the router's biggest advantages and the basic reason behind its use is that it allows an Internet connection to be shared by multiple computers. Typically used with broadband Internet connections, routers route Internet traffic to the computer it is supposed to be sent to on a network. Without a router, only one computer can be connected to the Internet at any given time, which can be very inconvenient for households with more than one Internet user.

Wired Routers

Wired routers require physical connection to the computers on the network. These connections are typically established using Ethernet cables similar to the one that may connect your PC to your modem. Wired routers may not be ideal for some households, especially if you don't want a bunch of wires leading from each computer to your router. According to FirewallGuide.com, wired routers are more secure than their wireless counterparts.

Wireless Routers

A wireless router is the same as a wired router in most respects. The biggest difference is that wireless routers do not need to physically connect to the computers on a network to route their Internet traffic. Wireless routers are ideal for in-home use because they allow for computers to be spread out throughout the house without any messy wires leading back to the router. According to FirewallGuide.com, wireless routers are also capable of being used as wired routers.

Security Benefits

Routers add an extra level of security to your Internet connection over a setup without a router. This is due to the hardware firewall included in routers. A firewall monitors all incoming and outgoing Internet connections in an attempt to weed out any bad or potentially harmful connections, such as the kind established by hackers and malware (malicious software). Despite the hardware firewall included, FirewallGuide.com suggests also using a software firewall for an even greater level of protection.

Modem/Router

Many modem and router manufacturers are now creating hybrid devices that contain both in a single device. These devices, while generally more expensive than either a modem or a router, allow for a greater level of convenience and easier setup. The modems typically used in these hybrids are either cable or DSL, so make sure you purchase one with the correct modem type for your Internet connection.

About the Author

Matt Koble has been writing professionally since 2008. He has been published on websites such as DoItYourself. Koble mostly writes about technology, electronics and computer topics.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera wlan router 04 image by pmphoto from Fotolia.com