A Beginners Guide To Network Routers
Nearly every household has a router, though not everyone knows what a router does. In layman terms, a router is the hub of your home internet. Without it, you would not be able to use Wi-Fi on your phone, meaning no browsing of Youtube or Facebook.
Now, you can sit uneducated on the workings of your router, consuming the internet at the basic level your router provides out of the box. Alternatively, you can take the time to understand how a router works and what you can do to improve your internet experience significantly. Hopefully, you choose the latter, as your router is effectively the brain of your Wi-Fi network. You should know what makes a good router, understand how to secure your Wi-Fi network, and ensure you have a trouble-free experience gaining access to the internet.
The lesson begins with your router’s IP address, a chain of numbers used by computers on the router’s network to connect to the internet. You will also need to know the IP address to access the router’s interface, where nearly all changes to your network get made. Some example IP addresses include:
- 192.168 0.1
- 192.168 1.254
Your Wi-Fi Network And How Your Router Manages It
The average household has several internet capable devices. Your computer, smartphone, and even TV can connect to your Wi-Fi network, and if you have a smart home, that list of devices greatly expands. All of these devices need a router to connect to the work. Whenever a device connects to the internet, the router ensures the data from the web goes to its intended destination.
The best way to think of your router is to imagine it as a postal sorting office. Any mail you send or deliver first goes to the sorting office. When you visit a website, your computer sends a data request to your router, using the router’s private IP address to get the data request to where it needs to go, which then uses the website’s IP addressto deliver the request. The website you visit then returns the requested information to your router, using the router’s public IP address. Your router then hands the information over to the private network and uses your computer’s private IP address to get the data from the website back to your computer.
Modem Vs. Router – What’s The Difference?
Getting internet to your house requires more than just a router plugged into the power. Those who can remember back to the 90s may remember the dial-up tone that accompanied every internet session. The tone came via your modem, which your telephone line connected to. The phoneline sent an analog signal to the modem, which translates the analog signal into digital, to make it readable by a computer. This process was not instant and was interrupted whenever someone in the household made a phone call.
Those days are over, though your router still uses a modem, which generally gets built into the router unit. Your internet comes from your ISP or internet service provider, which then goes to the modem in your router. Your router then distributes the internet over your local network. It is still possible to access your router over the network without a modem, though you won’t have any access to the internet.
Wired Or Wireless?
There are two different ways to connect your computer device to your router, over Wi-Fi or with a wired connection using an ethernet cable. A wired connection creates a LAN or Local Area Network and uses the LAN ports, often found on the rear of the router. A Wi-Fi connection uses the antennas on your router. Most routers come with both types of networks, though cheaper model routers can come with only one option.
How To Get The Best Wi-Fi Coverage In Your Home
You can buy the most expensive router in the world, with all the bells and whistles, though that doesn’t mean much if you haven’t utilized the provided Wi-Fi network properly. Alternatively, you may have purchased a router that’s not powerful enough to meet your needs. There are a couple of factors to consider to ensure you are getting the most of your router’s Wi-Fi network.
How Big Is Your Home?
The size of your house will dictate the router you choose, the bigger the house, the more powerful a router you need. Alternatively, you can use a mesh router network, which uses multiple routers to distribute the Wi-Fi network over a wider area. If you don’t fancy forking out for numerous routers, you can purchase a Wi-Fi booster. As the name suggests, a Wi-Fi booster gives your network an extra kick.
How To Avoid A Wi-Fi Black Spot
No matter how powerful your router, some things can stop your Wi-Fi network from getting to where it needs to go. This lack of connection is called a Wi-Fi black spot and gets caused by thick walls, heavy mirrors, and similar surfaces in your house. When installing your router, make sure you place it high up with a clear line towards your house’s most popular areas.
Another feature on newer routers to keep an eye out for is MU-MIMO or multi-user, multi-input, multi-output. This technology allows your router to direct its Wi-Fi network to where it needs to go while prioritizing which computer devices need the internet more than others. A router with this technology can ultimately lead to an improved Wi-Fi network.
How To Keep Your Network Safe
You can’t talk about the internet without diving into cybersecurity. However, it’s not something a homeowner often thinks about. That should not be the case as an unprotected Wi-Fi network can allow even the most incompetent hacker access to the internet via your network at best, slowing down your internet, and a large amount of your personal information at worst.
Luckily, most modern routers come with preinstalled network-level security. This first line of protection gets the responsibility of ensuring none of the malicious viruses lurking on the internet can get into your home computer. Additional security features you may find on your router include:
- Parental Controls
- A Quarantine System
- Automatic Software Updates
Modern Routers Aim For User Friendliness
One of the main reasons why people don’t get to know their routers more is because the interface and systems can be intimidating for those with minimal tech experience. A router sporting a variety of additional extras and immense power is pointless if the standard consumer can’t use it. Luckily, most router manufacturers are starting to realize that.
Routers, now more than ever, are easier to set up. Some of these routers even come with mobile apps making connecting, setting up, and managing your router simple.
Technology is always improving, and routers are no exception. You might be happy with your router now, but there will come a time when it becomes obsolete. Luckily, you have the above information to help you make an informed decision on your next router purchase.