Why Do Routers Have USB Ports?

Router Usb Featured

If you’ve looked behind a modern-day router, chances are there is a USB port there. This may seem odd, as the last thing you’d think to plug a USB device into is your router. So why do routers have USB ports, and how can you put yours to good use?

1. You Can Plug Storage into It

If you have a memory stick and/or an external HDD compatible with your router, you can access it over the Wi-Fi. Just plug it into the USB port on your router, and every device on your network should be able to access it.

Router Usb Hard Drive

Unfortunately, it may take a little bit of work to get it working. As such, you may want to do research into both your router model and your preferred storage medium to see how to set it up.

If you can’t seem to get it to work, you can instead use a Wi-Fi enabled hard disk storage. This connects to your router wirelessly, much like the other devices on your network. This has the advantage of not needing to be near your router to connect.

2. You Can Connect a Printer to It

Much like above, you can use it to connect a printer – that is if both the printer and the router play nice. If they do, you can plug the printer into the router and make it available to all the devices on your network.

Router Usb Printer

Again, much like above, you can always get a Wi-Fi enabled printer if your current one doesn’t play nice with the USB port on your router.

3. You Can Use It to Change the Firmware

Usually, routers will query update servers every so often to update their firmware. If you want to update the firmware manually or install a new one, you can do so via the USB port.

Performing this is simple: put the firmware you want onto a USB stick, then plug it into the router. Use the router’s instructions to access and run the firmware, and you’re all set.

Before You Buy …

You may have read the above and decided that you want to purchase some hardware to make it all happen. Before you put any money down for new hardware, it’s important to note that routers can be quite different from one another. Something one router supports may not be possible for another.

As such, it’s best to do some research before putting any money down. That way, you increase the chance that your planned setup will work and play the way you expect. I am sure you don’t want to spend countless hours troubleshooting it and wonder why it didn’t work.

Making Use of the USB

Modern-day routers sometimes come with USB ports on them, but it’s not obvious what they are meant for. You can do some really useful things with it, though, if you have the compatible hardware!

Do you have plans to put your router’s USB port to use now? Let us know below.

Simon Batt Simon Batt

Simon Batt is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for cybersecurity.

6 comments

  1. My Router has two (2) USB ports, one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0. The 3.0 is for a HD or SSD and the 2.0 can be used for a printer. My printer is WiFi connected.. I also have 4 LAN ports and the Router uses ww-drt Operating System. It is a Buffalo AirStation WZR-1750DHP.

  2. The profile picture for this story is not a router It a mini – NAS system. Actually it a SYNOLOGY 2 Bay NAS DiskStation DS218+ (Diskless) http://ow.ly/iYD630qpmwn

  3. This is a very specific case but some routers allow plugging in a 3g/4g cell modem. That was the only way I could get internet where I used to live. Then the router provided WiFi connection.

  4. i use a hard drive on my router to share files between devices or at least I did. for some unknown reason it stopped working on day and now it will not map. windows 10 just can not find it. I spent countless hours on this trying to get it to work . all other devices find it ok but my widows 10 laptop will not . great concept when the dam thing works

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