A new router may improve the speed of your Wi-Fi. A new router can't raise the speed of your internet plan, even if it's a top-of-the-line model. Even the most sophisticated router on the market can't boost your internet connection speed beyond 100 Mbps if you have a 100 Mbps internet plan.

What Is A Router And Why Do You Need One?

A router is a hardware or software that connects two or more packet-switched networks or subnetworks. It has two primary functions: traffic management between these networks, in which it forwards data packets to their intended IP addresses, and allowing multiple devices to use the same Internet connection. Want to know more about this? Then read our in-depth guide explaining everything about this topic.

Ben Grindlow

Ben Grindlow is the founder of ProXPN, a company that provides reviews about VPN products and services. Ben's interest in cybersecurity and privacy led him to start ProXPN, which has become one of the most well-respected VPN providers in the world. Ben is passionate about his work, and he is constantly exploring new ways to improve ProXPN's in-depth guides.

Last updated: 10:10AM 7/5/2022

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On a typical day, the kids might be playing online in their room, your partner might be streaming 4K movies and you might be browsing Facebook on the couch. Today it is entirely normal for the whole family to be active on the internet simultaneously, doing different activities and using both wired and wireless devices.

The thing that enables all this internet activity is often somewhere tucked away in the meter cupboard or is hidden in a small corner in the living room. This little thing ensures that everyone can use the internet at the same time, whether they are on their smartphones, personal computers or other devices. This device is your router.

Routers are crucial to home computing in several ways. Read on as we answer the question ‘what is a router?' and help you understand how the way a router functions.

A wireless router or a modem?

Many people don't understand the difference between a router and a modem. Simply explained, the modem connects your home to the internet. Originally, modems converted the analog signals on telephone lines to digital signals, but modern telephone lines now carry digital signals.

The router is a device that broadcasts the digital signal from the modem, so you can connect to the internet with various devices at the same time. Essentially, a router receives data packets and ‘routes' the data packets inside (to a connected device) or outside the house as needed using a routing table. If you want to strengthen the Wi Fi signal for your local network, buy a better router or supplement your Wi Fi network with a Wi Fi repeater. Most routers and modems function regardless of the operating system on your computer or other devices. Most routers also can manage the busy network traffic in your home's local network even when everyone is connected to the internet simultaneously.

Increasingly, internet service providers send you a box that is both a modem and router in one. These also immediately function as a Wi Fi router or access point. This box is called a Wi Fi modem, and increasingly often they use Wi Fi 6, the latest Wi Fi internet protocol.

The disadvantage of this type of router is that it must be located near the connection point in your house

That limits your range quite a bit because the modem/router combination is often forced to be hidden in the meter cupboard, which may not be a central location. A Wi Fi extender largely solves this problem if the radio signals your router puts out are weak. An extender increases your Wi Fi range for all the devices in your home, letting you connect to the internet from devices throughout its range even if the router is not as powerful as it might be.

What is a Wi Fi extender?

A Wi Fi extender is the best friend a router could have. A Wi Fi amplifier, also known as a Wi Fi extender, ensures that your router's signal is adequately amplified so that you can continue enjoying your wireless internet connection everywhere in your home and garden. It does this by picking up the Wi-Fi signal from your router and then rebroadcasting it to your wireless devices.

The speed of an extended signal is never as fast as the original signal, but at least you won't be completely without internet in entire parts of your house if you use a Wi Fi amplifier to boost your router. This is a good trade-off when you consider the annoyances of a non-working or faltering connection instead.

Access points and powerline adapters

A Wi Fi access point is similar to this. You connect the access point to your router with an Ethernet cable, so that you immediately have an extra access point for your home Wi Fi network. In contrast to a normal Wi Fi amplifier, the speed loss in this case is minimal.

Finally, there are powerline adapters. These pass the internet to your home network through sockets. They communicate through electrical signals on the copper wiring in your home. You plug one into your router (which you also connect it to), and you plug the other one in where you want to use the internet. To achieve the desired results for your home network, the plugs would ideally be located in the same electricity group.

For the most reliable results, add a separate access point.

New routers for your internet connection

Don't go shopping for a new router without being aware of how to choose a router from the range of routers on the market. Hundreds of thousands of routers are sold every year, and that number is only growing. Everything has to be faster, better and of higher quality these days. Older routers face a lot of challenges; streaming HD videos or streaming games over an internet connection requires more and more Mbps (megabits per second) and thus increasingly powerful routers.

The average number of users on a Wi-Fi or wireless network is also increasing, as nowadays almost everyone has multiple devices like a smartphone, smart lamps, a smart TV, and so on. A single router can only handle a certain number of internet connected devices. The more the router has to maintain, the slower it gets. Therefore, always make sure that you buy the best wireless router you can so that your internet connection is ready to tackle the coming years. A new router is an important investment.

The range of wireless routers is also becoming more significant, because the kids gaming in the attic naturally do not want to experience lag (slowness and stuttering of the connection). That is disastrous in online games! If there are gamers in your house, the wireless router you buy must be able to ensure that the internet connection upstairs is just as good as the one downstairs. Greater range and speed are the most common reasons for purchasing new wireless routers, or any router for that matter.

Dual-band and tri-band wireless routers

There are more and more routers on the market that can operate on two frequencies. These are called dual band routers. The two different frequency bands are 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. You may have already guessed that a tri-band router has three different frequency bands. These are usually:

  • One 2.4 GHz band and two 5 GHz bands, or
  • One 2.4 GHz band, one 5 GHz band and one 60 GHz band (for very short distances)

When buying a router, remember that the 5 GHz band has its advantages:

  • It will not suffer interference from any other equipment.
  • The 5 GHz frequency is not as busy.
  • It is always better to have two or three networks than just one.

If there are not too many walls between the router and the receiving devices (i.e. clients) and the distance between router and devices remains limited, the 5 GHz band makes a positive contribution to the speed. Check beforehand whether the client also supports dual-band or tri-band signals from your router, since devices that are a few years old no longer do this.

The security of the router

Router security is an important concern, because your router is an important barrier against internet threats. The older routers can no longer keep up with increased security needs. The WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) security model in older routers doesn't secure much anymore these days. Using WPA2 on other routers or using newer routers protects wireless connections much better against unwanted virtual visits.

A wired connection remains fastest

Those who don't like wireless internet and still have a healthy relationship with cables can get the best speed with wired routers for their internet access. An entire gigabit per second is achievable with wired connections, while wireless capacities are much slower on the same internet connection.

Blazing speed on a router is ideal if you often need to download or move very large files or create backups, so don't rule out a wired router, especially if you will connect multiple devices. With the speeds on such a router, you are at least assured that there is no lag while gaming or watching a movie. Most laptops no longer have built-in internet connections. Desktop computers, on the other hand, still do!

In conclusion

Now that you have a clearer picture of what a router is, how a router works, and how to improve the signal from your router, you can move forward with your internet service provider and make the right choice. You can probably even answer the question ‘what is a router?' for someone else. And understanding how such a device works lays the foundation for solving possible router problems in the future. Thanks for reading!

Frequently asked questions

A router connects several wired devices to the same internet connection by sharing a single connection. It acts as a center hub and firewall, with numerous ports available for computers, game consoles, media streamers, and other devices. A modem or ONT port is also included.

Routers are used to perform the same tasks as your computer. Routers connect in-home networks to one another, and they also connect to the Internet via a modem. Your router's main function is to route data from one device in your house to another, as well as between those devices and the wider Internet. When we talk about a home

You don't need a router if you're just using Wi-Fi to share an Internet connection. The typical home Wi-Fi router is actually a three-in-one device that includes a network switch, a network router, and a Wi-Fi access point.

A new router may improve the speed of your Wi-Fi. A new router can't raise the speed of your internet plan, even if it's a top-of-the-line model. Even the most sophisticated router on the market can't boost your internet connection speed beyond 100 Mbps if you have a 100 Mbps internet plan.

The stronger the processor, the faster the router will operate. A router with a single-core processor can simply handle as much data or numerous clients as one with a dual-core CPU, which is how you can tell which one is better. The more cores in the CPU, the better.

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