Although they both assist in getting your devices online, a modem and a router serve different (and complementary) purposes. A modem, often known as an ISP, is a device that links your home network to your internet service provider. A router is a device that enables all of your wired and wireless devices to access the internet simultaneously and to communicate with one another.
Your internet service provider may frequently supply you with a “gateway,” a single piece of equipment that functions as both a modem and a router, but these are still two distinct technologies. To have an internet connection for all of the gadgets in your house, you require the capabilities of both a modem and a router, whether they are integrated or not.
We advise utilizing a separate modem and router if at all possible for persons with an internet connection provided by a cable company (and who do not have gigabit or greater internet speeds). A modem can typically be used for years before it breaks since modem technology changes slowly. However, if you want to take advantage of the most recent advancements in Wi-Fi technology, which can change more frequently than modem standards do, you may need to replace your router.
This could be because you want better coverage, you’ve added more devices to your network and your old router isn’t keeping up, or any number of other reasons. By using your own modem and router instead of those provided by your cable company, you may typically save $5 to $15 per month on your internet costs.
If you have a DSL or fiber internet connection, your ISP probably expects you to use the modem it provides, which typically doubles as both a gateway and router. The situation is more challenging if your ISP also provides phone service.
A modem modulates and demodulates electrical impulses conveyed through phone lines, coaxial cables, or other types of wiring to convert digital information from your computer into analog signals that may travel across wires (and vice versa). The majority of standalone modems only have two ports: an Ethernet jack for connecting to a computer or router and a port for connecting to the outside world.
When setting up your service, your ISP most likely provided you with a modem (or gateway) if you use cable internet. However, if you check your statement, you’ll probably see that you have to pay a monthly fee (usually $10) for that equipment.
The system of linked devices in your home, along with the router itself, is referred to as your “home network” in this context. The main task of your router is to route data between your home’s gadgets and between those devices and the rest of the internet. All of your devices connect to the other ports on the router, or wirelessly via the Wi-Fi protocol, while your modem connects to the port on the router that is typically but not always designated “Wide Area Network” or “WAN.”
Maintaining and Troubleshooting Your Router or Gateway
Since routers are sophisticated technological devices, we are unable to provide you with all the information you’ll need to resolve any networking issues you may have. However, you should be able to maintain your network operating as efficiently and securely as possible by using these simple troubleshooting and maintenance techniques.
A solitary router or gateway should be placed as centrally as feasible in your home and in the open, and all routers and satellites should have as few impediments as possible surrounding them (especially metal ones). Avoid placing them behind your computer monitor, inside a desk, or in a distant area.
Update the firmware:
New firmware updates can enhance the functionality and security of your router while also adding new features. For details on how to check for and install firmware updates, refer to your router’s handbook as many modern routers do it automatically while others do not. If your router’s firmware hasn’t been updated in more than a year or two, it might be time to think about replacing it.
Change the default passwords:
This entails updating both the administrator password that you use to change settings and install firmware updates and the WPA2 or WPA3 passkey that you use to connect new devices to the router. The default passwords for both are typically posted on a label on the underside of the router, so changing them both lowers the possibility of someone connecting to your network and accessing your internet or making changes to the settings without your permission.
Reboot your router and modem:
Turn off or unplug your router or gateway, wait 10 seconds, then plug it back in if it frequently loses connections or you can’t access the internet at all (do the same with your modem, if you have a separate one). Every now and then needing to do this is very normal, but if you find yourself doing it every day, your network or modem may need to be fixed or replaced.
If you have a cable package that also includes landline phone service, that could be an exemption. “Telephony” or eMTA modems are more expensive, less broadly compatible, and less likely to be accepted by your ISP than standard modems.