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Routers

 
 
 
 
 



WHAT FUNCTIONS DOES A ROUTER PERFORM?

1. EXTERNAL CONNECTION: Routers are essential when a user in a company or enterprise has to send or receive data outside its Local Area Network (LAN). This could be either to connect to the Internet or connect to a remote office outside of the user's office campus or building that houses the LAN. The route or connection of a router to a point outside the LAN is said to be part of the router's Wide Area Network (WAN).
 
2. SOURCE AND DESTINATION ADDRESSING: All data packets travelling through the network have a device source and device destination address. Within a LAN, data packets go directly from the source device to the destination device primarily switched through one or more switches (e.g. data from a Computer to a Local Printer). This is  because the source and destination addresses are contained within the same LAN.
 
3. DIRECTING TRAFFIC: However, if the destination address of a data packet is outside the LAN, the sending device sends it to the router which is also within the LAN, because it knows that the router is the default device to send data. When the router receives this data packet destined for a point outside the LAN, it looks within its internal routing table to see if it has a route or connection to get the packet to the corresponding router in destination network; if it does, it will send the packet to that router in the destination network. The reverse is also true for the same router receiving data from outside the LAN.
 
4. REDUNDANCY: In an enterprise grade network, the routers would have multiple redundant WAN connections, which is essential to maintain up time, in the event that one or more WAN connections are either down or severely degraded.

5. ROUTING PROTOCOLS: Routers achieve this using routing tables that are dynamic - they are updated by routing protocols such as Routing Information Protocol (RIP) or Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) that constantly pass messages between routers. The router consults these routing tables to determine whether or not it has a route to a particular destination address.

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