Most modern home and office Wi-Fi routers now come with a USB port. In fact, some wireless routers, such as Asus AC1300 and Linksys WRT3200ACM, feature a USB 3.0 port. But why exactly do Wi-Fi routers have USB ports?
Wi-Fi routers have USB ports to add more functionality to the router. A USB port allows you to use your router as a NAS(Network Attached Storage), a low-power charger, and a media server. It can also be used for installing firmware updates manually, sharing printers with devices in the network, and wireless backing up files from your computer.
Some people also use their router’s USB port to power a laptop cooler to help prevent their router from overheating. This is especially useful if you live in a hot environment since it helps improve air circulation around a router.
The video below explains the use of USB ports in Wi-Fi routers in more detail:
Possibility of Using The Internet Through A Router’s USB Port
For most routers, it’s not possible to connect devices to the internet via a USB cable. The USB port is usually for attaching devices such as printers or external hard drives that you want to be shared in the network. To use the internet via a wired connection you can use the router’s ethernet port and a USB-Ethernet adapter.
Ideal Number of USB Ports In A Router
A typical home router should have 1-2 USB ports for connecting an external hard drive and charging low-power devices. On the other hand, an office router should have 2-4 USB ports for attaching various office equipment such as printers, scanners, and backup drives that need to be shared in the network.
Using The USB Port In A Wireless Router For Phone Tethering
The USB port in a wireless router is not used for phone tethering. It is used for attaching storage and backup devices as well as charging low-power devices. However, with the right software and phone application that can set up the USB on your phone as a network port, it’s technically possible to use it for phone tethering.
Difference Between USB 2.0 And USB 3.0 In Wireless Routers
The difference between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 in a Wi-Fi router is in the design of the two ports. USB 2.0 has a total of 4 connector wires which gives it a transfer rate of 480 Mbps while USB 3.0 has a total of 9 connectors which gives it a much higher transfer rate of up to 5 Gbits/s.
It is not uncommon to find routers with one USB 3.0 port and one USB 2.0 port. In such routers, the USB 3.0 port on routers is designed for attaching a NAS (Network Attached Storage) unit since it facilitates faster data transfer rates. The USB 2.0 port can then be used for charging or connecting other devices.
Why Most Wi-Fi Routers Have Only Four Ethernet Ports
Most Wi-Fi routers come with only four ethernet ports because routers are cost-sensitive products. Adding more ports would mean adding more RAM and a powerful CPU which would increase the cost of the router. Also, most modern devices, including printers and scanners, now come with wireless capabilities making wired connections unnecessary.
However, this is not to say that wireless routers with more than four ethernet ports don’t exist. Routers such as the ASUS AC3100 come with eight Gigabit LAN ports which is twice the number of ports provided by ordinary routers.
While USB ports seem like an odd feature in a Wi-Fi router, they are very important. This is especially true if you are looking to attach other network devices such as hard drives, printers, and scanners that do not have wireless capabilities.
Besides connecting network devices, you can also use the USB ports on your router for charging low-power devices or powering cooling devices such as laptop coolers to prevent the router from overheating.