Modem vs. router: The differences between the pieces of hardware that connect you to the internet, explained

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Your modem and your router may be similar in appearance, but they have distinct roles when it comes to delivering you an internet connection.

Even if you aren’t running your own server, it’s a good idea to have a basic grasp of how these two pieces of hardware work in tandem to deliver your internet. That way, you’ll have an easier time determining the best router and modem setup for your local network, and troubleshooting any internet-related issues that may arise.

Here’s a brief explainer on what you should know about your modem and router to keep them running optimally.

Modem vs. router

The essential difference between a modem and a router is that a modem connects you to the internet as a whole while the router manages and routes the internet to your devices.

A modem is your gateway to internet access

The modem authenticates and connects you to your chosen internet service provider (ISP), which might be a local provider or a national company like AT&T or Comcast.

Generally, a modem is black, with an appearance similar to a gaming console — flashing lights and a sleek, compact design. They can be as small as a smartphone or as large as a box of cereal. 

The main thing you’ll be concerned with as far as your modem though is its reliability and speed connecting to the internet.

Even if you have the newest, fastest type of modem, factors beyond your control can impact its connection. For instance, old or damaged cable lines that connect your modem to the ISP can cause slower speeds. But that’s something your ISP is on the hook to fix, not you.

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Another issue that can impact modem connectivity is provider availability. For instance, if you don’t have access to fiber internet or 5G, it won’t matter that your modem is top-notch. The modem will still be limited in its speed, and depending on the type of modem, may not even work at all.

There are also two important acronyms to know related to your modem: the ISP and IP address.

Your ISP, or internet service provider, is the company you’re likely paying to get internet service. Your modem would be a hunk of useless hardware without the ISP to communicate with it.

If you’ve ever received a copyright-related correspondence from your ISP, that’s because of your ISP’s knowledge of your computer’s IP address: The ISP, using the modem, assigns an IP address to your device when you connect to the network.

Routers give multiple devices access to the internet 

A router will look similar to the modem: generally boxy and black, though some will have antennas to help broadcast a Wi-Fi signal. 

In fact, both the router and modem might even be occupying the same piece of hardware. Yet they are still distinct devices with distinct functions.

While the modem provides the essential pipeline to the larger internet, the router acts …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Tech


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