What Is a Router?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn why a router is an important piece of computer hardware and what you need to know to maintain and troubleshoot it.

[Featued image] A woman is researching about the different routers on her phone while sitting at her desk.

A router is an important piece of hardware that allows devices to connect to the internet. A router allows you to access websites, play games, send emails, download documents, stream videos, and anything that requires an internet connection. It forwards packets of information from your internet provider to different devices to get connected, such as computers, laptops, and smartphones.

Read more: Information Technology (IT) Terms: A to Z Glossary

Types of routers

There are two main types of routers depending on your needs or the needs of your clients. 

Wireless router

A wireless router allows you to connect to the internet with an antenna. These antennas are built into wireless routers and devices to communicate back and forth via internet connection. The  router gets its internet connection through an Ethernet cable that is connected to a modem, a device your internet service provider places in your space to get internet.

You can operate an electronic device with Wi-Fi capabilities from anywhere in your proximity without being limited to a physical location next to the router itself.

Wired router

A wired router requires you to physically connect your device to the router using an Ethernet cable plugged into each device for a wired connection. Your router is also connected to your modem through an Ethernet cable.

A wired router allows you to have the same connection to the internet but without the freedom to move to different areas and stay connected to the internet. However, wired configurations tend to provide greater security and connection speed.

  • Server management

  • Router configurations

Learn more about routers

To learn more about routers or start your IT career, explore the Google IT Support Professional Certificate on Coursera. The Professional Certificate covers the skills you need for an entry-level IT support position, including installing routers, troubleshooting router issues and making repairs, and other day-to-day support tasks. Upon completion, gain exclusive access to career resources like resume review, interview prep, and more. 

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