What Are the Different Types of Routers?

By Erik Devaney

Wired and wireless routers commonly connect to cable modems via Ethernet cables.
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As Webopedia notes, routers are located at the gateways of networks. They are responsible for keeping data flowing between networks and for keeping networks connected to the Internet. Whether you are in the market for a new router, are currently relying on a router for an Internet connection or are just curious about computer networking technologies, learning about the different types of routers can be helpful.

Wired Router

Wired routers are typically box-shaped devices that connect directly to computers via "hard-lined" or wired connections. One connection port on a wired router allows the router to connect to a modem for receiving Internet data packs, while another set of ports allows a wired router to connect to computers for distributing Internet data packets. Some wired routers also provide ports for distributing data packets to fax machines and telephones. One of the most common varieties of wired router is the Ethernet broadband router. Such routers support network address translation (NAT) technology, which allows multiple computers that are plugged into a wired router to share a single Internet Protocol (IP) address. For security, wired routers typically utilize stateful packet inspection (SPI) firewalls, while for providing communication between computers within a network, the routers utilize the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP).

Wireless Router

Similar to a wired router, a wireless router connects directly to a modem via a cable for receiving Internet data packets. However, instead of relying on cables for distributing data packets to computers, wireless routers distribute data packets using one or more antennae. The routers convert the data packets, which are written in binary code -- or series of 1s and 0s -- into radio signals, which the antennae broadcast wirelessly. A computer with a wireless receiver can then receive these radio signals and convert them back into binary code. Unlike a wired router, which establishes a wired local area network (LAN), a wireless router establishes a wireless local area network (WLAN). The most common standard for WLAN is known as Wi-Fi. To protect Wi-Fi networks, wireless routers commonly employ wireless media access control (MAC) address filtering and Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) security.

Core Routers vs. Edge Routers

A core router is a wired or wireless router that distributes Internet data packets within a network, but does not distribute data packets between multiple networks. In contrast, an edge router is a wired or wireless router that distributes Internet data packets between one or more networks, but does not distribute data packets within a network.

Virtual Router

Unlike a physical wired or wireless router, a virtual router is an abstract, intangible object that acts as a default router for computers sharing a network. The router functions using the Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol (VRRP), which becomes active when a primary, physical router fails or otherwise becomes disabled.