What is the difference between routers like Cisco routers and Cable/DSL routers?
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Well a Cisco router is a professional version of those mini ones.

The home Cable/DSL routers usually support a DHCP server (to give out IP's to the clients connected to them) and have very limited functionaliy (when compared to the cisco professional ones).  But 99.9% of what you would ever want to do can be done from one of those cable/DSL routers.  

People who have professional applications that require compliacted access lists (deny this IP, allow this certain IP only to access this port, etc, etc) use professional cisco routers that can handle all the extra functionaltiy and do it faster.

The cable/dsl ones allow you to usually forward a few ports(say 10) where a real router has unlmiited ability.

Cable/Dsl routers are degsigned for home situatuons so they provide IP's to a local network - a true router does not provide IP's it only directs/controls traffic on the internet.

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(that was not meant to be a comprehensive list of the additional features on a cisco router(myt ANY means), they use something called access lists where basically you can program them to router internet traffic however you want, wherever you want - a small cable/dsl router will only let you do a fe things it comes presetup for)
cable/DSL routers are (generally speaking) built to share a broadband connection and not do much else.  Some DSL/Cable routers provide packet filtering (basic firewall) functionality and can act as a basic VPN server.

Cisco routers have a fuller feature set and provide more of an enterprise class solution.  Additionally Cisco routers provide the ability to be upgraded so that they can connect to all types of WAN infrastructure (i.e. Frame Relay, ISDN, ATM etc).  Aditional functionality can be added by adding new modules or cards and the memory and operating system can be upgraded easially
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