Last updated on June 4th, 2021
There is a lot of technical jargon surrounding wireless routers, which can be overwhelming if you are not tech literate. There are some basic specifications to look out for, which we have broken down for beginners. Your wireless router must have a multi-core processor and 128MB RAM.
This essentially means that it can handle multiple people being online at once and that your internet connection will be relatively speedy. If you have a large budget, look for routers with a higher RAM still. Your router should be dual-band or higher. This means that the signal is sent out on more than one frequency and will be faster.
You will need to check your internet’s top speed. This information can be found by contacting your internet service provider. If your top speed is 100 Mbps, you will need a router that can handle at least this much.
We advise checking user reviews for the routers you are considering on Digital Citizen. This will give you estimates of the real-life user speeds instead of the idealized versions produced by manufacturers. Many modern wireless routers will come with an app that allows you to control the router from your phone. This is not necessary, but many people do find it useful.
Your router should come with at least one USB port. It may also come with some advanced features such as VPN, firewalls, and antivirus software.
How can I increase the range of my router?
There are many ways to increase the range of your router for little to no additional cost. One of them is as simple as changing the position of your router. Wireless signals are impeded by walls, ceilings, pipes, and metal cabinets. The more obstructions that are in between the router and the computer, the weaker the signal will be.
Try to place it in an open space away from walls. The more centrally located your router is, the better the signal will be. You should regularly check the firmware for your router. This is essentially an update to the system from the manufacturer.
They can roll out bug fixes and improve wireless performance like this. Annoyingly, many routers do not automatically update and you will likely need to manually check for them periodically. Your wireless adapter drivers are also subject to these updates.
Provided you know the make and model of your adaptor all you need to do is visit the manufacturer’s website and download any drivers. These are commonly an .exe file and will update as the program is run.
You can also check the frequency that your wireless router is transmitting at. If you have a dual-band router the signal will likely be better when on the 5GHz band instead of on the 2.4GHz band. The 5GHz frequency is faster and will likely have less interference on the signal. This is because devices do not operate on the 5GHz frequency as standard and so it is less commonly used.
Do I need both a modem and a router?
Generally speaking, you will need a modem and a router in your home. There are some devices known as hybrids that attempt to combine the two. These are generally less effective than separate devices and do not tend to be the best choice.
A modem acts as a gateway to the internet. It connects to your ISP (internet service provider) via a cable or phone line from the exterior of your home that connects to the rear of your modem. This is then connected to a router or computer using an Ethernet cable.
There are different types of modem. The one that you need will vary depending on the type of internet that you get at your home. If you connect to the internet via a phone line, you will need a DSL (digital subscriber line) modem.
If you get cable internet, you will need a cable modem. If you get fiber internet, you will need an ONT (optical network terminal). This acts to translate the light signals from fiber optics to electrical signals. This allows you to use your devices with the modem.
Modems will usually only give an internet connection to one wired device. Routers translate this wired connection into a wireless signal. This means they are essentially a device that creates a network that allows you to share the internet signal with all of your devices.
They are connected to the modem using the Ethernet cable. The signal is then translated to other devices using another Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi network.
How can I use two routers in one house?
If you feel as though your Wi-Fi signal is poor or weak across your home, you may wish to consider installing a second router. In order to achieve this, you will need to establish a special configuration on your home network.
This can be a difficult process as you need to place them in locations where you can still organize physical connections. As well as this, you must configure your DHCP (dynamic host configuration protocol) and IP (internet protocol) address settings.
Installing a second router will increase the performance and connectivity of your Wi-Fi. This will allow more devices to connect to the network and will also help to send the Wi-Fi signal out further.
You will also be able to connect more wired devices with the installation of 2 routers. This is because there will be more available ports for the wires to fit into. This is the fastest and most reliable way to connect to the internet. In a pinch, this should fix most connectivity issues that you are having.
If you do not want to deal with the hassle of the technical side of setting up 2 routers, there is another way to boost your Wi-Fi signal in your home. This is as simple as purchasing a wifi range extender. This is a device that emits the signal further around your home without having to deal with the IP address settings.