Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet
Look at smaller routers, often called broadband routers that enable two or more computers to share an Internet connection.Within a business or organization, you may need to connect multiple computers to the Internet, but also want to connect multiple private networks - and these are the types of functions a router is designed for.
Not all routers are created equal since their job will differ slightly from network to network. Additionally, you may look at a piece of hardware and not even realize it is a router. What defines a router is not its shape, color, size or manufacturer, but its job function of routing data packets between computers.Wireless broadband routers look much the same as a wired router, with the obvious exception of the antenna on top, and the lack of cable running from the PCs to the router when it is all set up. Creating a wireless network adds a bit more security concerns as opposed to wired networks, but wireless broadband routers do have extra levels of embedded security. Along with the features found in wired routers, wireless routers also provide features relevant to wireless security such as Wi-Fi Protected Access and wireless MAC Address filtering. Additionally, most wireless routers can be configured for "invisible mode" so that your wireless network cannot be scanned by outside wireless clients. Wireless routers will often include ports for Ethernet connections as well. For those unfamiliar with WIFI and how it works, it is important to note that choosing a wireless router may mean you need to beef up your Wi-Fi knowledge-base. After a wireless network is established, you may possibly need to spend more time on monitoring and security than one would with a wired LAN.Wired and wireless routers and the resulting network can claim pros and cons over each other, but they are somewhat equal overall in terms of function and performance. Both wired and wireless routers have high reliability and reasonably good security (without adding additional products). However -and this bears repeating - as we mentioned you may need to invest time in learning more about wireless security. Generally, going wired will be cheaper overall, but setting up the router and cabling in the computers is a bit more difficult than setting up the wireless network. Of course, mobility on a wired system is very limited while wireless offers outstanding mobility features.There's a lot of jargon associated with the wireless router you buy. In the previous section, we discussed what 802.11g was. The 802.11 is a common standard that helps devices talk to each other. The g is an improvement to the 802.11 standard. However, as of September 14th 2009, a new standard has finally been ratified, seven years after it was first put forward! The new standard is 802.11n. This newer standard offers faster and more reliable wireless signals. You have been able to get Draft N routers for some time now. But the ratification of the treaty by manufacturers means that a wireless adaptor bought from one company should work with another's routers, and vice versa. Another bit of jargon you'll see is MIMO. This stands for Multiple-Input Multiple-Output. Which does, of course, tell you nothing! But MIMO is a technology aimed at giving you a better range for your wireless signals, and can carry more data in those signals (throughput). But you need a wireless adaptor that supports the MIMO technology, if you buy a wireless router with the words MIMO on it.f you have a 3G connection, look out for MiFi. This is a way to share computers using a 3G connection, rather than a fixed line ADSL connection, or cable broadband. With a MiFi router you insert your SIM card into, and this connects to the internet, rather than your USB dongle. The router should then let you connect several computers to the Internet at once using wireless, ethernet, or both.Manufacturers like Linksys are making it easier to set up wireless routers. Look for an Installation CD, or a Quick setup option. At the very least, there should be some instructions to follow along with. If you have an ADSL broadband connection, then you'll want to buy a wireless router with a ADSL modem built in. (It will say this on the box.) The model below, for example, is Linksys WAG200G - Wireless-G ADSL Home Gateway:.If you don't have an ADSL connection, but have a cable broadband connection, then don't buy an ADSL wireless router. You want one that you can plug your modem in to. Look for any wireless router that DOESN'T have the words ADSL in the title.The modem you got from your ISP will probably be connected to your computer via an ethernet cable. Unfortunately, you can't just plug this in to your shiny new wireless router and expect it to work! When you plug your Ethernet cable in to your computer, you're plugging it in to an ethernet card. Your ethernet card has a unique address called a MAC address. Cable providers connect you via the MAC address of your ethernet card. Your new router will have a different MAC address. So if you plug your ethernet cable in to this, your provider won't know where you are, and you won't get any web pages!The good news is that there's something called MAC address spoofing. This is when the routerpretends to be your ethernet card.If you get a wireless router then the install process will take care of this for you. The process will be fairly painless. The bad news is that some routers expect you to do all this for yourself! The manual will then explain how to get the MAC address of your ethernet card, and how to enter this information in to the router. The wireless cable routers we've chosen on our recommended pages all have easy setup options for MAC address spoofing.Each router will have what's called Configuration pages. You access these through a browser like Internet Explorer or Firefox. These don't come from the Internet, though, so you don't need an active broadband connection to see them. In the configuration pages, you can do things like set your broadband username and password, set up wireless security, set up online gaming, see the current status of your connection, and a whole lot more besides.
To get in to the configuration pages, you need to be connected to your router. This can either be with the Network cable, or via your wireless adapter. Start up your browser, and enter the address for your router. These differ, but for the Linksys router it will be:http://192.168.1.1
You will then be asked for a username and password. Routers will have a default for both of these. For the Linksys, it's admin for the username and admin for the password. (Look in your manual for the router's address and default username and password.) Click OK and you'll be in to your configuration pages.If you can't see any configuration pages then the connection from your computer to the router is not working. So don't blame your ISP! Time to pour over those manuals! Another thing you may need to do in the config pages is to set up wireless security. If you don't have security switched on, anyone within range of your wireless router will be able to connect to it. There are two forms of security that most wireless routers use, WEP and WPA. What you are doing here is encrypting your signals with a key. With wireless security turned on, the router needs your key before it will allow any traffic through it. No key means no access.
Wired Equivalent Privacy. This is an older form of security and is not as safe as WPA. There are programs around that hackers can download to crack WEP. Once they have WEP cracking software, they may be able to gain access to your router and get a free ride on the Internet At the very least!
The WEP key, though, will be either 64 bits or 128 bits in length. (128 bits is 26 characters, and will be mixture of the numbers 0 to 9 and the letters A to F.) If you have a Livebox from Orange, for example, then it comes with WEP security. When setting up the router for a wireless connection, you have type out all 26 characters. Get one wrong and it won't connect!
Wi-Fi Protected Access. WPA security is really an update to WEP. It uses different and stronger encryption, and so is harder to crack. It's easier for you to set up, as well, because you just need to set up a short pass phrase instead of typing out 26 letters and numbers! You should use WPA and not WEPA lot of wireless routers don't have security turned on by default. Your configuration pages will allow you to turn it on, and there is usually a help menu which explain the various security settings.
Posted by Doctor PC on
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