Here are some of the most commonly received router/modem related questions we receive at our Micro Center stores:
Q: What is a router?
A: A router is a device that allows multiple devices to connect to the same internet connection offered by an internet service provider (ISP).
Q: Is that the device my provider gave me?
A: No. The device offered by your provider is called a modem. However, some modems do offer the same features of a router and are called cable modem routers.
Q: Do I have to use what the ISP gave me?
A: No. The ISP may have a list of devices that are compatible with their network, but you can purchase and use your own device. You want to make sure to get something that is compatible with your ISP.
Q: Do I need a router, or can I just use the modem?
A: If you only have one or a handful of devices that connects to the internet, then you can use just the modem. Keep in mind that a lot of modems do not have wireless capabilities, so extra ethernet cables may be required.
Q: Do all routers include wireless?
A: No, but the most common home routers do. Bigger companies may need a router without wireless for security purposes.
Q: How can I protect my wireless network?
A: Wireless networks can be protected by adding a security key or password. Other security features may be available such as MAC address filtering but information on this is usually provided in the manual.
Q: Which wireless security option do I choose?
A: Many routers offer a few selections including WEP, WPA, and WPA2. The recommended option is the WPA2 standard. Encryption may be a separate field, these typically include either AES or TKIP, the best option in this case would be AES.
Q: Doesn’t a switch connect multiple devices as well?
A: Yes. However, switches only provide a connection between the devices whereas routers manage the internet connection so each device can use it.
Q: Why does the router separate one port from the rest of them?
A: The separate port is where the modem needs to be connected and is programed differently so the rest of the devices can access the internet. It is an input port whereas the other are output ports.
Q: How do I make the wireless signal from the router stronger?
A: The strength of the wireless signal is determined by the interference in the area. Most routers allow you change the channel to one that has less interference from other networks in the area in the router configuration page.
Q: I changed the channel, but the signal isn’t strong enough to cover my entire building. What can be done?
A: Another option would be to get a wireless extender as these devices can be added or bridged to routers to provide more coverage.
Q: What happens if I forget the password and cannot make changes to my router?
A: Most routers have a button on the back with all the ports labeled. Look for the Reset button. If you hold this button for 30 seconds, the router will reset back to the default settings. You can then use the admin password to log into the router configuration page and make changes.
Q: What is WPS?
A: WPS stands for Wi-Fi Protected Setup, which allows devices to communicate the wireless key without typing it in. When the button on the router is pressed once, and then pressed on another device, these two will talk to each other passing the information. It is an easier setup for connecting two wireless devices to each other.
Q: Can WPS be turned off?
A: Yes, most routers will have an option on the wireless settings page.
Q: Does a router help protect my network?
A: Yes. Most routers have a firewall to block traffic from entering your network unless the computer requests it.
Q: Can I allow traffic to access a program I am running?
A: Yes. Routers can be configured with port forwarding to point traffic toward the computer that is running the program. If your ISP cable modem router does not have this option, reach out to your ISP to see what can be done.