Does a better router improve Internet speed?

Question: Does a better router improve internet speed?
Answer: Sometimes. It depends. It’s complicated!

Allow me to elaborate…bandwidth speedometer

There are at least three factors that impact someone’s perception of how fast or slow an internet connection is. To help make my point, think of your internet connection as a pipeline.

The three factors that affect your speed as it relates to your pipeline are:

  1. The size of your pipeline (the amount of bandwidth you have)
  2. How quickly things flow through your pipeline (the amount of latency you have)
  3. Whether or not there are leaks in your pipeline (is data being dropped somewhere in the middle)

1. The size of your pipeline

Think of the amount of bandwidth you have. This is the number advertised by your ISP in Megabits per second (Mbps).

Some people have 1 Mbps, others have 1000 Mbps. This is the size of your pipeline.The more bandwidth you have, the more data that can flow through it at the same time and the less it gets clogged up.

Remember to also consider upload speed as well as your download speed, as they can both make a difference.

The amount of bandwidth you have is certainly important, but it is not the only factor in determining the speed of your internet connection.

2. How quickly things (data) flow through your pipeline

internet pipelineThis is referred to as latency – it is a measurement of the time it takes data to go from your computer, through the internet to a remote server (Facebook, Netflix, etc), and then all the way back (round trip).

Is the data moving slowly like sludge through the pipeline, or is it moving quickly like pure water?

If data moves back and forth quickly (low latency), it is likely that someone would perceive that connection as very fast, even if it were only a 10Mbps connection.

The reverse of this is also true – someone could have a large pipe with slow flow and they wouldn’t feel that it is a very fast connection. The best example of this is Satellite Internet, such as HughesNet.

Many satellite internet plans provide decent bandwidth (usually somewhere around 25Mbps) but are still known to be quite slow. The reason for this, is due to the added time it takes the signal to go all the way up into space and then be bounced back down to earth.

This results in a large pipe/slow flow scenario, and as such, many people with this type of service are generally unhappy with it.

3. Are there leaks in your pipeline?

This is referring to the reliability of your internet connection and all of the pathways your data takes through the internet on its way to/from a remote server.

If there is an issue, either with your ISP or somewhere upstream from them, you may experience packet loss. Packet loss will definitely slow down your internet connection.

See, your computer is very intelligent and can sense when packet loss is occuring. When this happens, it has to re-request the missing data and wait for it to arrive again.

This delay, depending on its severity, is typically noticeable to the user as lag/slowness. Alternatively, if there is no packet loss, then there is no need for data to be re-transmitted. This can result in favorable speeds and saved bandwidth.

Factors that impact your speed

Now that we’ve covered the basics of the three of the ways that speed is observed, lets discuss factors that will actually impact your speed.

router with lan cable

Congestion/Oversubscription

This is what happens when your pipeline gets full. It simply can’t move any more data simultaneously until either the size of the pipeline is increased, or the amount of existing data in the pipeline is reduced.

We’ve all noticed this before – a sudden burst of lag that occurs because someone else in the household is suddenly downloading or uploading a lot of data, like a movie or a game. This creates data contention issues, which is noticed as a slowdown.

Keep in mind that oversubscription could occur in your household (too many family members or roommates using the internet at the same time) or it could also occur at the ISP level – where there are too many customers eating up large amounts of data (usually during peak times of the day) and it ends up affecting other customers.

How well is your ISP connected to other networks/providers

cables in a datacenterThe internet is made up of thousands of pathways that connect various networks. In some instances, your data has to go through 20-30 routers before it reaches its intended destination (that is considered a lot of routers).

In other cases, maybe it only has to go through 8-10 routers. Generally speaking, the shorter the path your data has to take to reach its destination, the faster and more reliably it will get there.

These pathways are decided upon by your ISP.

If they have many connections to various upstream providers, including some direct connections (called peering arrangements) with major companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon etc – you will likely have a better experience than an ISP that only has one connection out to the internet.

Other miscellaneous issues that can impact your speed:

  • Equipment problems at your ISP or one of their upstream providers
  • Issues on the server side – if the remote server you are accessing is oversubscribed or malfunctioning, you will notice slowness
  • Local issues with your computer or your router, or perhaps a Wi-Fi issue

Here are some things that a new router could solve:

Wi-Fi environmental issues

Perhaps there are environmental issues impacting your Wireless performance. Maybe there is interference from too many people nearby on other Wi-Fi networks.

Maybe the guy next door uses a cordless phone or runs his microwave frequently (both of which can affect Wi-Fi). Or maybe the materials that your home is built out of is negatively impacting your signal.

There are technologies featured on newer routers such as beamforming, additional bands, etc that can overcome some of these environmental issues and deliver a better user experience.

New features and standards

Perhaps your old router only supports an older/slower wireless standard such as 802.11G or 802.11N, so upgrading to a newer standard such as 802.11AC will definitely give better data throughput and better range.

Additionally, many newer routers have quality of service (QoS) features that would make the internet connection feel faster/more reliable when data contention is in play.

The bottom line:laptop wired to router

You won’t know if a better router will improve your internet speed unless you do some testing:

  • You could just go out and buy a new router, plug it in, and hope everything improves
  • You could connect your computer directly to your router with a network cable to see if there is a performance issue related to your Wi-Fi (connecting directly will bypass your Wi-Fi)
  • Or you could bypass your router altogether – in some cases, you can plug a computer directly in to your modem to test

Whatever type of test you run, just make sure that you are consistent in your testing. Run speed tests before and after each change and document the results.

Be sure to use the same computer and same browser each time you test. Use the same speed test website/server each time, and try to test at the same time each day, since speeds with some providers differ depending on the time of day.

If you are testing a wired connection, make sure your computer is disconnected from the wireless network before you start testing.

Results:

If your internet speeds are identical when you bypass your router, it is unlikely that upgrading your router will have any noticeable effect. Perhaps you should contact your ISP instead to see if there is a problem with your connection.

But, if your internet speeds improve when you bypass your router, there is a good chance that a new router will give you the better performance you are craving.

Good Luck!

Why do I need a dual-band router?

Dual-band routers are all but standard nowadays (Tri-band routers even exist now), but many people don’t stop to think “why is a dual-band router is worth having?”

Some history

The FCC (and most communications authorities worldwide) have set aside certain frequencies for local area high speed wireless transmissions, aka Wi-Fi. These frequencies are 2.4GHz and 5GHz.

The original Wi-Fi standards released in 1999 – 802.11b and 802.11a (now also known as Wi-Fi version 1 and Wi-Fi version 2) only operated on single bands. 802.11b operated at 2.4GHz and 802.11a operated at 5GHz

As technology matured and Wi-Fi become more prevalent, it become obvious that using additional frequency bands was an effective way to provide additional bandwidth, support additional devices, and reduce interference.

Starting with the 802.11n (Wi-Fi version 4) standard released in 2009, both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands were included in the standard, paving the way for the first dual-band routers to be produced.

radio channel frequency

Benefits of dual-bands

Prior to the ratification of 802.11n, we had two standards (802.11b and 802.11g) using the 2.4GHz spectrum, and one standard (802.11a) using the 5GHz spectrum.

802.11b/g ended up being much more popular and widespread, likely due to the fact that it was cheaper. As a result, the 2.4GHz spectrum was much more crowded.

Compounding the issue, the following non-WiFi devices also operate (or create interference) in the 2.4GHz spectrum:

  • Microwave Ovens
  • Wireless Microphones
  • Bluetooth
  • Car Alarms
  • Baby Monitors
  • Garage Door Openers

This resulted in the 2.4GHz band being really crowded. Having the ability to use the 5GHz band with the newer 802.11n and 802.11ac standards really alleviates this congestion issue.

wifi logo

Differences between 2.4GHz and 5GHz

Aside from the obvious difference (Look, different numbers!), there are some technical differences between the two spectrums.

Range

The first difference, is range. Lower frequencies can penetrate objects better than higher frequencies, so the 2.4GHz spectrum generally results in better range than 5GHz. The difference, although noticeable, is not huge.

Speed

5GHz can generally transmit data faster (better modulation schemes) than 2.4GHz.

Number of channels, channel width

2.4GHz only has 11 channels in North America, only 3 of which are non-overlapping. Non-overlapping basically means they are channels don’t have as much interference from nearby networks, assuming everyone is playing by the same rules.

5GHz has 23 channels in North America, and all of them are non-overlapping. This makes it much easier to avoid interference in dense environments. Less interference = better speed and reliability.

Bringing it all together

So what exactly is a dual-band router?

A dual-band router is a device that is equipped with two radios operating simultaneously – one that operates at 2.4GHz, and another that operates at 5GHz.

Devices connecting to the router will then have the choice of which band to use. Some devices only have a 2.4GHz radio equipped and thus will have to connect via 2.4GHz, while others can use either band and will generally choose the 5GHz band due to the fact that it is less crowded and has more clear channels.

The main point is this: offloading some devices onto the 2.4GHz spectrum and others onto the 5GHz spectrum increases the performance for everyone.

Make sure your next router or access point is dual-band!

Best Router for 75Mbps Internet

For those with a 75Mbps Internet connection, it is important to buy a high performance router that is able to keep up with your speedy Internet service.

After all, 75Mbps is substantially faster than 46Mbps, which is the worldwide average Internet bitrate for fixed broadband as calculated by Ookla, one of the major players in the bandwidth and performance measurement space.

The study, which was conducted in 2018, is available here https://www.speedtest.net/insights/blog/2018-internet-speeds-global/.

Since you are paying probably $50 to $100 per month for 75Mbps Internet service (this obviously differs greatly depending on where you live), it is in your best interest to ensure that you are taking full advantage of the speed you are paying for.

router with lan cable
A typical consumer-grade router

In many cases, users may not be able to take full advantage of the speed they are receiving from their provider because their router is a bottleneck. In some cases, this is due to a license restriction, but in most cases it is simply due to old hardware that can’t keep up.

Regardless of reason, not being able to use the speed that you are paying your provider for month after month and year after year, is criminal.

In my opinion, it is a mistake to cheap out on the one-time expense of a router, which could result in wasted money month after month depending on how long you stick with a bad router.

Best for 75Mbps: Introducing the the TP-Link Archer AC1750

This router wins our recommendation for 75Mbps Internet users because it is the right mix of price and performance, and it is appropriate for those levels of throughput. I wouldn’t suggest this router for gigabit connections, but for 75Mbps it will do a great job without breaking the bank.

TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Routers for Home, Works with Alexa, Parental Control&QoS(Archer A7)
  • Wireless internet router works with Alexa, compatible with all Wi-Fi devices, 802.11ac and older
  • Dual band router upgrades to 1750 Mbps high speed internet(450Mbps for 2.4GHz + 1300Mbps for 5GHz), reducing buffering and ideal for 4K streaming comparable to the router Netgear R6700
  • 3 external antennas for long range wifi
  • Gigabit router with 4 gigabit LAN ports, fast access to multiple connected wired devices, ideal as a gaming router
  • Integrated USB port acts as a media server, easily share your USB drive content

The TP-Link Archer-AC1750 is a cost-effective router specifically designed for home users. It has multiple features like USB support, parental controls, multiple (4) LAN ports, guest Wi-Fi capability, and more.

Typically priced under $100, the device is definitely a good value for the money, and perfectly meets the needs of midrange bandwidth users (50Mbps-500Mbps).

What we like and what we don’t like:

A word on the ‘Cons’

Most of our dislikes regarding this router involve the optional additional features such as the USB ports (used to connect external storage) or support for a 3rd party Firmware such as DD-WRT or Tomato (which is a topic for advanced users only). We don’t feel that these cons will affect most users, since many people won’t use these additional optional features.

Dual Band? Check.

The AC1750 is a dual band router, which is a basic necessity in any router nowadays. Originally, WiFi devices only used the 2.4Ghz spectrum, but starting with Wireless-N, the 5Ghz spectrum was opened up. As a result, the 5Ghz spectrum is much less crowded and also features increased channel capacity.

The 2.4Ghz spectrum tends to penetrate walls a little better and thus reaches a little further, but the 5Ghz spectrum is higher frequency and thus (theoretically) allows for higher throughput.

Additionally, many devices still ONLY support 2.4Ghz, so buying a router that includes 2.4Ghz support is still mandatory. Thus, a dual band router that supports both bands is strongly suggested.

This router features support for the current WiFi standard – 802.11AC. It sports a fast processor, six antennas, multiple USB ports, and a host of other features. It was even named PC Magazine’s “Editor’s Choice” and J.D. Power ranked the TP-Link brand highest in customer satisfaction for routers in 2017.

Easy to setup and manage

The “Tether” app from TP-Link can be used to setup and manage the router in minutes.

This provides the capability to monitor your network and make changes either from home or remotely via the Internet.

It can literally be “plug and play” if you like. Depending on your Internet provider, you can generally just plug the “Internet” port into your modem, power up the router, and be online within minutes without configuring the router.

To be fair, most routers operating this way, however (thanks to the fact that most ISP’s provide configuration via DHCP.

Additional Pros

Latest Standards

wifi logo

The router supports many of the latest networking standards such as IPv6 and 802.11 AC. Though this product is primarily a home router, you can easily use it for a small office as well.

Integrated 4-port Ethernet switch

I was looking for the perfect router for my home, the one that suited my budget and my requirements. As I had multiple devices like the desktop PC and the laptop in addition to the mobile devices, I was looking for a router that had multiple LAN ports. To be fair, many home/small office routers come equipped with an integrated 4 port switch like this one.

Mobile Application & Quality Customer Support

One thing that I found exceptionally well is the way TP-Link treats customer support. They have a dedicated round-the-clock support team who are always ready to assist you in case you have an issue with the product or its operation.In addition, it also comes bundled with a free mobile application. I used the app for the initial setup of the device. I just connected the router to power and most of the other complex things were configurable via the app.

Guest Network Capability

I often have guests and students coming to my home and asking for the password to use the internet. On my previous router, I had no option to differentiate a guest user from a home user.

The TP-Link comes with a unique solution to this issue. A guest user can login using the guest credentials and can easily access the internet but not my private network, its devices and its data. Now, that’s very innovative of the company to include this feature at this price point.

Parental Controls

Children are increasingly getting exposed to technology. This is definitely a boon considering the usefulness it offers. However, it also brings along with it negatives.

Child abuse and other sensitive visuals need to be kept away from children. The parental control feature allows you to blacklist potentially harmful websites.

USB Ports

This is definitely one of the highlights of the product and one of the main reasons that I decided to go with this. You can easily connect two peripheral devices like printers or external hard drives and make them accessible from the network.

6 Antennas (3 external and 3 internal)

Connectivity is the core of any router and TP-Link understands that like no other. The router comes with three adjustable and removable antennas at the back and three internal antennas within the device.

This ensures better range and reception, resulting in the ability to use Wi-Fi at longer distances more reliably.

16MB Flash Memory

You can easily skip this part as a technical detail. However, believe me it does bring a lot to the table. The additional flash memory has enabled the company to add more features to the first version that was launched
way back in 2014.

Price

bandwidth speedometer

I tried hard to exclude this, but come on! For a sub $100 product, the TP-Link Archer-AC1750 does pack a punch. Years of experience and understanding the customer has enabled TP-Link to come off with a real gem at an affordable price point.

Cons

Documentation isn’t exactly user friendly

The user manual is somewhat difficult to understand and can overwhelm a newbie. I recommend using the mobile app to setup the router.

USB Ports

The USB indicator is at the back – the front panel is overloaded with potentially less useful information. However, when a device is connected via USB, the indicator is on the back side of the router, making it harder to see.

Also, thanks to USB 2.0 (instead of the newer 3.0 standard), I found the file transfer a bit on the slower side. If you are using the USB ports for a printer, however, you don’t need to worry about this.

TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Routers for Home, Works with Alexa, Parental Control&QoS(Archer A7)
  • Wireless internet router works with Alexa, compatible with all Wi-Fi devices, 802.11ac and older
  • Dual band router upgrades to 1750 Mbps high speed internet(450Mbps for 2.4GHz + 1300Mbps for 5GHz), reducing buffering and ideal for 4K streaming comparable to the router Netgear R6700
  • 3 external antennas for long range wifi
  • Gigabit router with 4 gigabit LAN ports, fast access to multiple connected wired devices, ideal as a gaming router
  • Integrated USB port acts as a media server, easily share your USB drive content

Wrapping Up

As you can see, the pros outweigh the cons. We feel the AC1750 from TP-Link is a great fit for 75Mbps Internet users. You get the performance and speed that you need, without paying more for an over-the-top router with performance and features you likely don’t need.

What is the best Router for Google Fiber?

Best router for Google Fiber

What is the best router for Google Fiber?

The need for speed

If you are part of the small percentage of Americans that are lucky enough to live in a Google Fiber coverage area, you may be wondering, what is the best router to buy for use with your new Google Fiber service?

After all, if you are going to be getting an ultra high-speed direct fiber service to your home, you want to make sure that there are no bottlenecks in your internal network, right?

This is excellent thinking, and as a network professional, I had the same thoughts when considering Google Fiber.

Traditionally, we’ve been exposed to slow internet connections such as cable and DSL services. Typically, these services run at speeds of 25Mbps to 50Mbps, or maybe something closer to 100Mbps if you are lucky.

The speed of your internet service is limited by the slowest link in the chain. Traditionally, this was always your broadband internet connection, but that is changing.

Today, with Google Fiber and similar fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) services, you can get up to 1000Mbps (1 Gig) service at your home. Suddenly, the slowest link in the chain can easily become a device on your internal network, such as your router.

Some people still run routers that max out at 100Mbps. They literally don’t support Gigabit. And many people don’t realize it.

Google Fiber includes a router

Here’s the rub for Google Fiber subscribers: Their service includes a Wi-Fi router whether they like it for not. So, some people may not wish to buy a router for their Google Fiber service. After all, you technically already have everything you need.

When Google Fiber is installed at your home, there are at least two pieces of equipment provided. A “Fiber Jack”, which is really just a micro ONT (Optical Network Terminal) which terminates the GPON signal coming from the OLT (Optical Line Terminal) port at the nearest hut, outside plant cabinet, or data center.

Your Fiber Jack then connects to a little black box which Google has affectionately dubbed a “Network Box” (who named these things?). The network box acts as your router, terminating the service and allowing you to share the connection throughout your house.

It also supports WiFi, has a firewall, allows basic port forwarding, etc. Many of the features of your average consumer-grade router are supported by the Network Box.

What’s the problem?what chat bubble

The problem, is that per Google, the Network Box is required. Unfortunately, you can’t just plug your shiny new Netgear/Linksys/TP-Link router into the Fiber Jack and get online. You must use the Network Box – which is why the selection of a new router may be unnecessary (your traffic still goes through the Network Box, regardless of what you plug in).

So, for some users, there is no real need to use a regular router with their Google Fiber service – the Network Box is enough.

What if I want to use an aftermarket router?

Google says that you can still plug your router into the Network Box and use it, and indeed you can. You can unbox your new aftermarket router and install it just as you would with any other type of broadband internet service from Comcast, Cox, Centurylink, etc.

We should note that installing a router behind the Network Box will create a scenario where all of your traffic is getting NAT’d twice. This means that your traffic is getting translated from one type of IP address to another, twice. Usually this is only done once, but most users won’t notice a difference with their traffic being double NAT’d.

What to look for in a router to use with Google Fiber

Since you are buying a service that is high-speed, low-latency, and highly reliable, we recommend that you don’t skimp if you decide to purchase an aftermarket router. Specifically, you want a router that supports a Gigabit WAN port, the newest WiFi standard (802.11AC), and has a dual-core or better processor.

The following routers are our picks for use with Google Fiber. Any of them will work well with the service, though some are pricier than others.

Great performance at an affordable price!
NETGEAR R6700 Nighthawk AC1750 Dual Band Smart WiFi Router, Gigabit Ethernet (R6700)
Supports Gigabit connection to Google Network Box
802.11AC Support
Beamforming
Processor Cores
2
Prime
Linksys Max-Stream AC1900 MU-MIMO Dual-Band WiFi Router for Home (Fast Wireless WiFi Router, Gigabit Wireless Router)
Supports Gigabit connection to Google Network Box
802.11AC Support
Beamforming
Processor Cores
2
Prime

But surely there is a way to bypass the Network Box?!

If you are a power user and feeling ambitious, there are supposedly ways to use Google Fiber’s service without a Network Box. This typically involves use of a Ubiquiti Edgerouter or setting up a PFSense box, and is completely unsupported by Google.

That information is beyond the scope of this article due to it’s advanced nature, so I’m not covering it here. But you should know that it is possible.

How to tell if a Router is bad

A broken router is no fun! After all, everything on your network depends on it – streaming, gaming, schoolwork, and real work all get impacted equally when your router stops working. Here are some steps to take (ordered from simple to advanced) to determine if your router is bad.

broken router

Start Simple:

Why do you think your router is the problem? Just because you can’t access the internet? The first, and often overlooked step, is to isolate the issue. Are all of the devices in your house affected, or just your computer? If only your computer is affected, the problem is likely not the router.

It is best to figure this out before spending time troubleshooting the wrong issue. If the problem is affecting your entire house, perhaps it is the router and you should continue troubleshooting.

Look at your router and start by checking the obvious things. Is it still plugged into the power outlet and is the outlet supplying power?

If the outlet is wired to a light switch, check to make sure that the switch is in the ‘on’ position. The same goes if the router is connected to a power strip or surge protector – make sure the power switch is on there too.

Also, check your breaker panel and verify that the breaker for that outlet hasn’t tripped.

Now check the indicator lights on the router? Do they look normal? Most routers’ lights will flash to indicate activity on the network – are they flashing?

Are the status lights for the ethernet ports on your router lit up? You should see a ‘link’ light when a device such as a laptop or printer is plugged in to a specific port only. You shouldn’t, however, see port ‘link’ lights on ports that are not plugged in. Seeing a ‘link’ light on all ports, regardless of whether or not they are plugged in, is a classic sign that the router is having issues.

Is the router generating heat? Does it seem like a normal amount?

What about noise? Generally, consumer routers don’t make any noticable noise.

These types of observations may assist you in determining the health of your router.

Intermediate Troubleshooting:router status lights

Is your router functioning (passing traffic)? Try opening up a command window and seeing if your computer currently has an IP address. This can be done by running the ‘ipconfig’ command on Windows, or the ‘ifconfig’ command on Mac and Linux.

Most networks are configured to provide IP addresses from the router, so if your computer has a valid IP address, your router might be functioning okay. Now that you have your IP address, try pinging it (ping yourself). This should always be successful – if it’s not, it could indicate that your computer’s networking components aren’t functioning correctly and, again, is not the router’s fault.

Now, try pinging the IP address of your router (this is the gateway address listed in the ‘ipconfig’ or ‘ifconfig’ commands you ran earlier). See this article for more help with finding your router’s IP address.

If that is successful, try pinging another device on your network. If that works, your router seems to be passing traffic okay. Maybe the problem is isolated to your internet service?

Try pinging Google’s primary DNS server, 8.8.8.8. If that is successful, try pinging google.com. If you can ping 8.8.8.8 but not google.com, you are experiencing a DNS issue – but if you can also ping google.com, your internet should be functioning normally.

If your router seems to be okay but your internet service isn’t working, try rebooting your DSL/Cable modem or contact your ISP for assistance.

 

broken router

Ruling out the router for good:

If you still haven’t tracked down the problem, here is a good way to test your router: bypass it and connect your computer directly to your ISP’s device (typically a DSL modem, cable modem, or fiber ONT).

To do this, unplug the cable connecting to the WAN or Internet port on your router and connect it to your computer. Can you access the internet now?

If so, your router is almost certainly the issue since bypassing it got you back online.

Keep in mind that this test method will only work for some people – it depends on how your ISP configures your service. If your ISP uses static IP addressing or PPPoE, you would need to take additional steps to use this test method – simply plugging in directly will not work.

Advanced Troubleshooting:

router with heartbeat

If at this point you’ve established that the router is bad, you can either cut your losses and replace it, or you can attempt some advanced procedures that might possibly allow you to recover your router.

If you decide to continue troubleshooting the router, the next step would be to attempt to reset the router to defaults. This will wipe the current config from the router and reboot it into the factory-default state that it was in when you first opened the package.

The process for this operation differs from router to router, but typically involves pressing and holding the ‘reset’ button on the router down for up to 40 seconds. Sometimes, you have to power cycle the router while you are holding the reset button down – be sure to check your router’s documentation.

Be advised that if this procedure is successful, you will need to re-configure your router from scratch: set up your wireless network name, password, channel setting (if previously configured), administrator password, port forwarding (if applicable), etc.

Console Cable

Some routers have a special port (called a console port) that can be accessed with a cable like this. In many cases, the router casing has to be opened in order to access the console port, so this is not for the faint of heart.

Using the console port allows you to access the routers’ pre-boot/loading environment, which can sometimes be used to fix a router that won’t boot.

Since every router is different, I recommend doing some research to see if your router brand/model is equipped with a console port and what recovery techniques can be accomplished using it before you purchase a cable.

Flash It:

If a factory reset doesn’t work, the next step would be to attempt reloading the router’s firmware, aka ‘flashing’ it.

The concept of reloading firmware is usually used to replace a bricked router that has been broken due to being tinkered with. If your router failed in service (you weren’t doing anything to it when it failed), this probably won’t work, because the router is probably broken at the hardware level, not the software level. Still, you may want to continue – what do you have to lose?

The process for reloading the firmware differs from model to model and brand to brand – the procedures are too different and vast to name them all here. I’d suggest searching for something like “reload firmware brand_name model_number router” into your favorite search engine.

This should help you find specific instructions to follow. Keep in mind that attempting to “flash” your router’s firmware can cause your router to completely stop working – again, you might not have anything to lose, but I wanted to give that disclaimer none the less.

The basic jist of reloading the firmware involves uploading a new firmware file from your computer to the router. This can either be done via TFTP, or serially by connecting a special cable to the router. In some cases, you have to partially disassemble the router in order to get to the serial port.

Again, check your router’s documentation for this process, or online. Once the new fimware file has been uploaded, reboot the router and hope that it comes back to life!

Need a new router now?

Our current pick for the best router (for most people) is the ASUS RT-AC68U. This router provides fast, stable performance, is loaded with features, and is available at a reasonable price.

ASUS RT-AC68U
  • Dual-band with the latest 802. 11AC 3x3 technology for combined speeds of up to 1900 Mbps
  • 1GHz dual-core CPU enables smart multitasking by dedicating separate lanes for Wi-Fi and USB data. Network standard: IEEE 802. 11a, IEEE 802. 11B, IEEE 802. 11G, IEEE 802. 11N, IEEE 802. 11AC, IPv4, IPv6
  • Effortless router setup with the ASUSWRT web-based interface. Dual-band connectivity for compatibility and performance
  • Monitor and manage your network with ease from your mobile device using the intuitive ASUS router app
  • A protection powered by Trend Micro provides multi-stage protection from vulnerability detection to protecting sensitive data. Please refer the installation manual and the user manual before use which is highly essential. Dc output: 19 V with max. 1. 75 a current. Guest network: 2. 4 GHz x 3, 5 GHz x 3

What is the best channel for my wireless router?

wifi logo

The best channel for your wireless router is the one that has the least amount of interference on it.

Strictly speaking, all channels are the same. Lower channels don’t have more bandwidth than higher channels or vise-versa.

In other words, if you were all alone on a desert island and it was just you, your laptop, and router, you would have the exact same experience on every channel.

This is because you would be the only device on your Wi-Fi network, and there would be no nearby Wi-Fi networks or other sources of interference.

Unfortunately, we don’t all live on islands by ourselves – free of frequency interference and bathed in high speed internet.

 How Wi-Fi works

 

tv remote channelWi-Fi is a shared communication medium. This means that all nearby wireless devices (yours, your kids or roommates, and even your neighbors) are competing for use of the same airspace.

Now within that airspace, there are multiple channels available for use – like channels on your television, each with something different going on.

Now think of the activity going on in a channel as a phone conversation. All nearby wireless devices that are on your channel (or an adjacent overlapping channel – more on this in a moment) are like a group of people that are all on a conference call. Only one person can speak at a time.

If there are only two or three people on the call, everyone can say what they need to say without much of a wait. But on a call with 50 participants for example, people are going to have to wait a long time to speak.

Wireless communication works the same way. The more devices, nearby networks, and interference there is, the slower and less reliable your Wi-Fi network will be.

Yes, the channel you pick matters, but only sometimes

Manually picking a wireless channel is becoming a thing of the past on 5GHz networks, but it still matters on your 2.4GHz network.

2.4GHz

If you are using a 2.4GHz radio, which most likely you are, (most older routers run exclusively at 2.4GHz and newer routers have dual-band 2.4GHz AND 5GHz radios) then you should be using one of the three non-overlapping channels.

This would be channel 1, 6, or 11

The reasoning for choosing 1/6/11 is complex, but suffice to say that all of the 2.4GHz channels overlap with each other to some degree.

What does overlapping mean? It means that devices in nearby channels will interfere with each other, even though they aren’t in the same channel. Kinda defeats the purpose of having channels, doesn’t it? Don’t get me started.

So why choose 1, 6, or 11? Because it is the most efficient strategy.

If you need 3 wireless routers or access points in the same room, putting one on channel 1, one on channel 6, and one on channel 11 is the best strategy. No other choice would allow all three devices to operate without interfering with each other.

Sure, there are other non-overlapping choices you could make – channel 2 and 10 don’t overlap, for example. But 1/6/11 is the only choice that will give you three independent channels.

 

2.4ghz wifi channels

 

OK I’m using a recommended channel, now what?

Using channel one, six, or eleven makes it a little easier to avoid adjacent-channel interference – but only if the other wireless networks near you are using the same strategy. The problem comes in when someone nearby is using one of the other channels (2-5 or 7-10).

For example, if you were being good and chose channel 1 or 6, but your neighbor next door is using channel 3 or 4, your neighbor’s network is still going to interfere with yours. You could try changing your router to use a different channel, but it may be difficult to find one that doesn’t interfere with someone else, especially in multifamily housing or apartments.

If everyone would only use 1, 6, or 11, the world would be a better place – but unfortunately this is not the case. Still, you can do your part by picking one of these non-overlapping channels.

5GHz

5GHz Wi-Fi is the future and you should be using it now if your router AND your devices support it. I say ‘AND’ because many devices still only support 2.4GHz networks.

For example, just thinking of a few devices in my house, my Chromecast, Sony smart TV, robotic vacuum (Roomba clone), and my laptop all lack 5GHz radios. Yep, they only operate at 2.4GHz. This means that I must leave my 2.4GHz radio enabled on my router, or I will not have connectivity with these devices.

radio channel frequency

Why is 5GHz better?

The 5GHz spectrum is wider and supports more channels. In the US, there are 25 channels in the 5GHz spectrum, and all of them are non-overlapping.

In addition to the higher availability of non-overlapping channels, 5GHz radios also support higher throughput (albeit at slightly shorter range due to the higher frequency) and technologies like multiuser-MIMO, which acts as a sort of channel bonding.

 

Disclaimer: This article applies to users in the United States. If you live in a different country, check with your national communications regulatory/authority, as the laws regarding the frequencies you can use will likely be at least a little bit different.

Why do I have to keep resetting my router?

Pretty much the first thing anyone does when they start having problems with their internet connection, is reboot their router. After all, rebooting your router usually fixes the problem – but why?

Why power cycle?

finger pushing power button

What is it about a reset (power cycle) that fixes problems? Well, there are several things.

For starters, a router is similar to a computer. It has a power supply, a processor (CPU), memory (RAM), and even an operating system (firmware).

Just like your computer needs a good reboot from time to time, so does a router.

Some routers are more well built than others and don’t require a reset as often, but for the most part any consumer-grade router is going to need a power cycle occasionally.

Consumer routers are generally built with lower quality hardware, slower speed components, and less rigorous software engineering standards compared to the routers that your ISP uses. As a result, they generally can’t go as long without a reset as their business-grade counterparts can.

Drain the electricity from circuitry

A proper power cycle involves disconnecting power from the device for 5-10 seconds, which allows for all of the circuitry in the router to fully discharge.

There are capacitors inside the router that take a few seconds to discharge, during which time, if you were to reapply power, the device would start back up but could continue to have issues since it wasn’t fully reset.

Memory in a computer system (or a router, in this case) gets fully erased when the power is cut. This is called volatile memory.

Don’t worry – there are also non-volatile memory types, which is why we don’t lose the configuration on our router as well when it is power cycled.

When power is re-applied, the router’s operating system boots from a fresh state, which fresh memory,  and is completely re-initialized so it can run at maximum capacity again.

IP address issues

After rebooting, the router also verifies that its’ current IP address from your ISP is valid (called renewing the IP) or if necessary, it requests a new IP address from your ISP.

Sometimes there is a bit of a disconnect between the IP address your ISP is providing and the IP address your router is using – the reboot will synchronize your router with your ISP again.

Bandwidth hogs are shut down (at least temporarily)

bandwidth hog

Sometimes, an internet connection is not working well because of a bandwidth hog. A bandwidth hog is defined as a person or device on your network that is uploading or downloading a large amount of data.

It could be something like a roommate downloading a new game on their Xbox, or something more systematic, like a computer downloading an automatic update.

This large upload or download creates a data contention issue, where other user’s data is slowed down because of the lack of bandwidth.

During a router reboot, bandwidth hogs lose the internet connection along with everyone else. They will usually resume their upload or download once the internet connection becomes available again, but sometimes (like in the case of a software update) they will wait a while to resume the data transfer.

Sometimes this delay is all you need to finish what you were doing online.

Wi-Fi frequencies are re-scanned

Some routers have a dynamic channel allocation feature where they survey the other nearby Wi-Fi networks to see what channels are in use, and then they pick the channel that is least populated or has the least amount of interference.

Power cycling your router will force your router to perform this adjustment as soon as the router has finished its reboot, as opposed to waiting for the router to do it on it’s own.

What are your options?

If you are otherwise fairly happy with your current router, you may wish to simply continue putting up with the minor inconvenience of occasionally resetting it. You could also automate the resets so that you don’t have to worry about doing it yourself.

keyboard reset button

Therapeutic reboots

Depending on the model of your router, you may be able to schedule it to reboot at the same time daily or weekly. I do this with my router – I have scheduled therapeutic reboots to occur every day at 2:00 AM, when everyone in the house is sleeping and won’t notice the brief interruption associated with the reboot.

If your router doesn’t support scheduled reboots, you can also get smart power switches that can turn the power off or on depending on the time of day. You could obtain one of these switches and then connect your router through it and accomplish the same goal.

Get a new router

You could also just consider getting a new router. Here is a recommendation on a router that gets overwhelmingly positive reviews and most people report that it doesn’t need rebooting.

NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 WiFi Router with 4 Ethernet Ports and Wireless speeds up to 2.6 Gbps, AC2600, Optimized for Low ping
  • Minimize ping and maximize performance with four 1-Gigabit Ethernet ports for lag-free, wired connectivity and 1.7 GHz dual-core processor network efficiency
  • Amp up your WiFi with AC2600 dual-band router that delivers blazing fast speeds up to 2.6 Gbps
  • Put your gaming traffic in a designated express lane with advanced Quality of Service, bypassing network congestion and reducing lag spikes, jumps and jitters
  • Make every millisecond count by using geo-filtering to connect to the closest servers and players so you can respond and dominate
  • Monitor your network and game ping in real time so you can see who's hogging the bandwidth by device and application

What is my IP address for my router?

Did you know that your router has two IP addresses? We’ll show you how to find out what they are.

Private vs Public IP Addressesprivate public road sign

Your home network (and most networks in general) consist of both private and public IP addresses. What’s the difference?

Public addresses can be used on the Internet, and private addresses can’t.

However, that’s not to say that private addresses don’t have their place. One of the main reasons private addresses exist, is because there are a limited number of public addresses.

In the current version of the Internet Protocol (IPv4), there are only about 4.3 billion public IP addresses. That may sound like a lot, but consider the fact that that number of addresses must provide internet access to every device on planet Earth, and suddenly its’ not such a big number.

There is a new version of the Internet Protocol coming (IPv6), which will drastically increase the number of public IP addresses available. However, global adoption of the new version has been very, very slow. It appears that the world will continue to use IPv4 for the foreseeable future.

Due to the fact that there is a shortage of pubic addresses, most people only get one public address from their ISP for their entire household. This addresses then goes on your router, and everything inside your home (computers, tablets, phones, game consoles, smart TV’s, thermostats, etc) gets a private address from your router instead of getting its’ own public address.

ip address list

Your router also gets one of these private addresses so it can communicate with the devices in your home. It then performs a function called Network Address Translation (NAT) to translate traffic to/from devices on your network to/from the Internet using a combination of its’ private and public addresses.

Without NAT, you would only be able to use the internet on one device at a time because you only have one public IP address. How inconvenient!

With NAT, it’s like your router is bi-lingual and is translating a conversation between two people that don’t speak the same language. Your router must speak both languages to ensure that communication between the two parties is successful.

In this case, the two “languages” are the routers’ public IP address and private IP address.

So, your router is actually using two IP addresses at all times. It uses its’ public IP to communicate with devices on the Internet, and it uses its’ private IP to communicate with devices on your home network.

How do you tell the difference between public and private addresses?

Public and private addresses share the same format – four numbers (0 through 255) separated by three dots, such as 192.168.0.1.

Since they look the same, is there a way to tell if an address is public or private just by looking at it?

Turns out the answer is yes. There is a standard (RFC1918) that defines IP addresses that are reserved as private. They are:

  • 10.0.0.0/8
  • 172.16.0.0/12
  • 192.168.0.0/16

Pretty much everything outside of these reserved ranges is public.

So, if you see an IP address beginning with 10, 172, or 192, chances are good that it is a private address. If it begins with any other number, it is a public IP address.

Why do you need your routers’ IP address?

Here are just a few reasons why you would need to know your routers’ IP addresses:

Reasons to need your private address

  • router admin ip address

    If you need to change the settings on your router – perhaps you want to change the name of your Wi-Fi network, modify your firewall settings, or change your Wi-Fi password. You will need to know your router’s private address in all of these cases so that you can login to your router and make the necessary changes.

  • If you need to configure a device on your network with a static IP address – in this case the device won’t be configured automatically, so you’ll need to know your router’s private IP address – which will be entered into the ‘Default Gateway’ box in your computers’ IP address settings.

Reasons to need your public address

  • If you need to access your home network remotely over the Internet – Maybe you are wanting to set up remote desktop to access your home computer from the office. Or, perhaps you are wanting to monitor a security camera in your home while you are on vacation.
  • If you are hosting a server of some type – Perhaps you are running a file server or a game server – you will need to know your public IP address so that you can give it out to someone that would need to access your server remotely.

How to find your routers’ private IP:

router with admin ip

Note: The vast majority of consumer-grade routers will use either 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 as their private address. Unless your router has been set up with a custom configuration, it is highly likely that one of these IP addresses will be assigned to your router.

Windows XP/Windows 7/Windows 10

  1. Click on the Start Menu (or press the ‘Windows’ key on your keyboard)
  2. Type ‘cmd’ (abbreviation for “command prompt”)
  3. Press ‘Enter’start button command prompt
  4. A black command prompt box will appear. Type in the word ‘ipconfig’ and press enter.

ipconfig output

You will see a bunch of information scroll by and may have to scroll back up a bit to find what you are looking for – which is the Default Gateway IP address of your current network connection. In the example above, it is 192.168.1.1.

The default gateway is the address that your computer sends data to if it needs to go out to the Internet. This is the private IP address of your router.

MacOS

  1. Click on the ‘Apple’ menu in the top left corner of your screen
  2. Select ‘System Preferences’apple menu system preferences
  3. From the System Preferences menu, click on the ‘Network’ iconsystem preferences network icon
  4. Select your active network adapter on the left side

You will see IP address information appear on the right side. Look for the section that shows ‘Router:’.

network preferences

This is the address that your computer sends data to if it needs to go out to the Internet. This is the private IP address of your router.

How to find your routers’ public IP:

This one is pretty easy. From any device on your home network, you just need to check a website that will retrieve the public IP address your traffic is coming from and report it back to you.

There are countless free sites out there that provide this service. Here are a few:

IP Chicken

What is my IP

Google – Simply run a search with the words ‘What is my IP’ and Google will tell you.

ipchicken screenshot

Best Wireless Router for HughesNet Satellite Internet

What is HughesNet?

satellite with earth reflection

HughesNet Internet service is a type of broadband that uses a satellite network to deliver Internet service to its’ subscribers.

There are many pros and cons to this service, with the main ‘pro’ being that the service is available anywhere in the continental United States and Alaska (as long as you have unobstructed access to the southern sky).

This means that HughesNet (or other satellite-based Internet services) can reach subscribers located in areas where other broadband technologies are unavailable.

Since traditional wireline providers (fiber, cable, or DSL) incur a lot of expenses with the installation and management of a broadband network, ISP’s will generally only build out their network in semi-populated areas. Often times, this leaves people that live in rural areas lacking any options for high speed internet access.

Sometimes, there are other choices available, such as T-1, fixed wireless, cellular/mobile data, and even dial-up. However, these solutions are not always available and can sometimes be quite expensive. This is where Satellite Internet comes in.

Obtainable Speeds

tech installing satellite dishHughesNet’s current service tier, dubbed ‘Gen5’ and served by their epic new “EchoStar XIX Satellite”, boasts speeds up to 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up. While impressive compared to their previous offerings, Gen5 service just barely meets (not exceeds!) the FCC’s definition of Broadband.

When looking for a router to use with HughsNet, the requirements are a bit different compared to someone looking for a router to be used on a higher speed broadband service, such as cable or DSL. Given that HughsNet tops out at 25Mbps, the bandwidth requirements are fairly low.

Even Wireless-N and Wireless-G routers are capable of pushing 25Mbps of traffic sustained. Does this mean that you should dig out that old Wireless-G router from 2005 (WRT54G, anyone)? No!

Selecting a router to use with HughesNet Satellite Internet

New 802.11AC routers provide several benefits beyond increased speed. For HughesNet subscribers, the main benefit of choosing a newer AC router would be range. 802.11AC technologies such as beamforming and MIMO result in better coverage than routers built on previous Wi-Fi standards.

You may only have 25Mbps to work with, but with the right router, you can ensure that you get those speeds in all areas of your home, not just when you’re sitting right next to the router.

Our recommendation: Netgear R6700

NETGEAR R6700 Nighthawk AC1750 Dual Band Smart WiFi Router, Gigabit Ethernet (R6700)
  • AC1750 WiFi-450+1300 Mbps speeds
  • 1GHz Dual Core Processor
  • Ideal for homes with 12 or more WiFi devices
  • Advanced features for lag-free gaming
  • Prioritized bandwidth for gaming, streaming videos, or music.System requirements:Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0, Firefox 2.0, Safari 1.4, or Google Chrome 11.0 browsers or higher

We like the R6700 because it features the speed and range improvements of the 802.11AC wireless standard at an affordable price point. Given that Hughesnet service tops out at 25Mbps, this router can easily handle those meager bandwidth demands.

This Tri-band router provides excellent speeds, even at long range. It also supports Quality of Service, which if configured, can prioritize certain traffic types over other types. Have a large download running that you don’t want interfering your Netflix streaming? Quality of Service can handle that.

Designed to provide excellent range when used in small to medium sized homes, the R6700 also features parental controls to help you keep your kids safer online.

It is also a stable router – it doesn’t need to be rebooted frequently like lots of other consumer-grade routers. It also features four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, to keep your local network running at high speeds.

It includes a USB 3.0 port, which you can use to optionally connect a USB hard drive to the router. This allows you to easily share files with other devices on your network through the router.

router with lan cable

Any Router Will Work

Speaking Frankly, most any router will work with HughsNet Internet Service, but for the best experience, you should choose one with excellent range and reliability.

We chose to recommend an economical choice in this case, because high throughput is unnecessary, given the relatively low bitrate of the Hughesnet service. The R6700 should fit the bill for most any HughsNet subscriber.

How to access my Netgear router

Accessing your Netgear router’s web interfacenetgear login page

The process for accessing a Netgear router’s configuration screen is actually a little bit easier than most other home router brands.

This is because Netgear uses the routerlogin.com (or routerlogin.net) URL to redirect you to the Netgear router on your own network. That way, you don’t have to remember the IP address of your router. Pretty slick.

To start, open your favorite web browser

  • Clear out anything and everything in the address bar
  • Type in www.routerlogin.com OR www.routerlogin.net (either one will work)
  • Press Enter

You should be directed to the router’s login screen and prompted for a username and password. If not, verify that you spelled www.routerlogin.com or www.routerlogin.net correctly.

If you spelled it correctly, try the other routerlogin varient – assuming you tried www.routerlogin.com the first time – try again, this time using www.routerlogin.net. Likewise, if you tried .net first, try switching to .com.

If it’s still not working, try a different web browser. Also, make sure the computer you are using is connected to your network, either via Wi-Fi or wired in directly.

Find the router’s IP address

If that still doesn’t work, try finding the router’s IP address. See this article for the procedure.

Once you’ve located the router’s IP address, go back to your favorite browser and clear out the address bar again. Now enter the IP address of the router and press enter.

You should finally receive a username and password prompt to login to your router.

Login Credentials

username password login prompt

Now you’ll need your router’s administrator credentials in order to login. For Netgear routers, the username is always admin. It cannot be changed to anything else.

The password is whatever you selected when you first set up the router. It is technically a different password than your Wi-Fi password, but it is possible that you used the same password for both, so give that password a try if you’re unsure.

If you still aren’t sure what the password is, try password or 1234 which are the default passwords for most Netgear devices. Perhaps you never changed the password from the default when you first set the router up.

Reset your router’s configuration to factory defaults

If you are still unsure of what your password is, and the default passwords don’t work either, your only choice is to reset your router to the factory default configuration.

Be advised that this will require you to go through the initial set up again – you will have to set up your Wi-Fi network name (SSID), the Wi-Fi password, the new administrator password, and any other special configurations you previously had in place such as static IP addresses, PPPoE usernames/passwords, port forwarding configurations, etc.

Your internet will likely stop functioning until your router is set up again. If your ISP requires you to use a username and password with their service, make sure you have that information accessible.

If you don’t have it, I recommend contacting them and requesting the information before you reset the router – that way you don’t end up without an internet connection longer than necessary.

computer router login screen

Reasons why you would need to access your router’s management interface

Below are some of the common reasons why a person would need to access the management interface on their router. It is certainly not an exhaustive list:

  • To change their Wi-Fi network name (SSID) or Wi-Fi password
  • To change the IP address of their router
  • To change the IP address of other devices on their network
  • To set up new port forwarding on their router so that they can access their home network via the internet
  • To set up a VPN connection
  • To access/change their PPPoE credentials provided by their ISP
  • To change the hostname of their router
  • To change the Wi-Fi channel their router uses
  • To enable or disable certain bands (2.4Ghz or 5.0Ghz)
  • To check their public IP address
  • To find out how many devices are connected to their network
  • To implement parental access controls
  • To view their bandwidth usage statistics
  • To upgrade their firmware or reboot their router
  • To modify their firewall settings

Remember the steps for next time

I recommend writing down the steps you used to access your router, and the working username and password.

It’s not every day that you need to change settings on your router, but the need does arise every so often. Save yourself a headache later and write the information down now while it is fresh in your head.