What Are the Functions of a Router on the Internet?

By Lysis

Routers direct traffic from the source to the destination machine.
i ADSL Router image by Phil2048 from Fotolia.com

Routers are devices used on a network to direct Internet traffic from the source to the destination. Routers are used in private networks and on the Internet. Routers also function to protect against outside traffic entering an internal network.


Routers are able to segment the Internet network from the internal network in a home or business. Routers send packets from the internal network to the Internet "cloud." The Internet cloud is considered any computer outside the internal network. A router functions to keep the traffic dedicated for the Internet outside the internal network as a safety feature. It also avoids the loss of data from a data packet going to the wrong network.

IP Assignment

Each computer on the Internet needs an Internet Protocol address. An IP address is the computer's address on the network, and it's a requirement to send and receive communication packets on the Internet. Dynamic host configuration protocol assigns an IP address to any computer that connects to the network. DHCP is a common option on most routers on the Internet, including routers that are used for home and office networks.


Internal networks need protection from hackers and unauthorized, malicious users. A firewall blocks traffic from an unauthorized user. It protects the corporate data by only allowing authorized users to enter the network. Firewalls can be installed on each desktop on the network, but routers located on the Internet are packaged with firewall firmware and software.

Peripherals and File Sharing

Routers also allow several users to share resources including printers, faxes, scanners and file folders on remote drives. A network administrator can set up printers and faxes on the router for an entire organization to use through the network. This eliminates costs and the space needed to have a printer for each user on the network. Shared files and folders on a user's hard drive can be shared across the network without printing or filing hard copies. This also saves the company money and resources, and users can perform functions more quickly even when they are located in separate geographic locations.