Podcast: TechStuff’s “What is a Router?”

What is a router? It’s pretty important to everyone who uses computers to connect to the internet, or to connect to other computers. “A router is a network of networks….computers talking to computers..” routers connect us, our computers, to networks that connect to service providers which then connect to other providers and servers. So basically, without a router, we would all be lost.

This transfer of information across different layers allows us to download content and view websites. The OSI (open systems interconnection) Model was mentioned in this podcast. It houses the seven layers of communication. Check here for a more in depth look. A few of these layers really play a major part in making routers work.

Routers allow for users to communicate between devices within a LAN (local area network). You don’t necessarily need a router to do this, but this is controlled by a switch. The router controls the information from the LAN to the internet, and receives information from the internet and sends it back to the LAN to be viewed on your device. Think data transfers- downloading music from iTunes.

Another important part of a router mentioned in this podcast was the routing table. Think of this as a GPS. It gives the router directions when communicating from one computer to another. It gives packets sent between machines the fastest route, which isn’t necessarily the shortest route. In case of a problem packets can be rerouted. If packets aren’t sent, the information is tracked and then resent. But this happens so fast, you will never notice it.

Routing tables are dynamic and are always changing, because the internet is always changing. Sometimes machines are switched off and the routing table recognizes this and routes packets accordingly.

To listen to this podcast and other TechStuff podcasts, click here.