Best router for 200Mbps Internet

For people with a 200Mbps connection to the internet, congratulations. That is a pretty fast connection. It is definitely not the quickest, with services from some cable and fiber to the home based providers clocking in at 1Gig or 2Gig service, but it is also much quicker than the 2017 national average broadband rate of 18.75Mbps.

For most people, 200Mbps is plenty of bandwidth, even for large households. However, you’ll want to make sure you select the right router to go along with your new service to ensure that your router doesn’t hold you back and thus prevent you from geting the speeds you are paying for.

What to look for

Here is a short checklist of features you should look for for use with your 200Mbps Internet. The RT-AC68U supports all of them.

  • Stable Operation
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 802.11AC Wi-Fi Support
  • Dual-core CPU or better
  • Monitoring capabilities (optional, but nice to have!)
Our Pick
ASUS Whole Home Dual-Band AiMesh Router (AC1900) for Mesh Wifi System (Up to 1900 Mbps) - AiProtection Network Security by Trend Micro, Adaptive QoS & Parental Control (RT-AC68U)
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 Smart WiFi Router (R9000) - AD7200 Wireless Speed (up to 7200 Mbps) for 60Ghz WiFi Devices | Up to 2500 sq ft Coverage | 6 x 1G Ethernet, 1 x 10G SFP+, and 2 USB ports
Excellent performance at an affordable price!
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security
Linksys Dual-Band Wifi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
802.11AD
802.11AC
802.11AC
CPU
1GHz Dual Core
1.7GHz Quad Core
1GHz Dual Core
1.4GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
4 (external)
3 (external)
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1900
AD7200
AC1750
AC1900
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
Our Pick
ASUS Whole Home Dual-Band AiMesh Router (AC1900) for Mesh Wifi System (Up to 1900 Mbps) - AiProtection Network Security by Trend Micro, Adaptive QoS & Parental Control (RT-AC68U)
Router
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
CPU
1GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1900
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 Smart WiFi Router (R9000) - AD7200 Wireless Speed (up to 7200 Mbps) for 60Ghz WiFi Devices | Up to 2500 sq ft Coverage | 6 x 1G Ethernet, 1 x 10G SFP+, and 2 USB ports
Router
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AD
CPU
1.7GHz Quad Core
Number and Type of Antennas
4 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AD7200
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
Excellent performance at an affordable price!
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security
Router
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
CPU
1GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1750
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
Linksys Dual-Band Wifi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
CPU
1.4GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1900
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status

Our Pick

Our recommendation for a router for 200Mbps Internet service is:

ASUS RT-AC68U

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 we like about the ASUS RT-AC68U

ASUS Whole Home Dual-Band AiMesh Router (AC1900) for Mesh Wifi System (Up to 1900 Mbps) - AiProtection Network Security by Trend Micro, Adaptive QoS & Parental Control (RT-AC68U)

The RT-AC68U has proven itself as a flagship router that can route packets at line rate (1000Mbps) without issue. This router will easily work if you end up upgrading to a Gigabit service in the future. This is good for people that like to make future-proof electronics purchases.

It is also a very stable router – It doesn’t need to be rebooted all the time, like some routers.

We also like the monitoring capabilities that can be accessed  from the ASUS app on your smartphone. You can use the app to see what is going on on your network and who/what is using bandwidth.

Finally, we like that the router supports the ASUS AirMesh feature, which allows you to connect multiple ASUS routers to your network in order to increase Wi-Fi coverage in your home. This is helpful for people with large homes or people that have issues with dead spots in their home.

Think twice before you use that old router

Make especially sure that you get a router with Gigabit Ethernet ports. Many of the older Wireless-N (802.11N) and Wireless-G (802.11B/G) routers are only equipped with 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports.

This means that the WAN port on the router can’t pass data any faster than 100Mbps. This would mean that you could only get half of the speed you are paying for if you end up using one of these routers with your 200Mbps service!

Many people think that they can just re-use an old router and it will work fine. That may be true, but in the current environment, broadband speeds are exploding.

No one used to show any concern about using a router limited at 100Mbps because broadband speeds were only in the 25-50Mbps range. Now that broadband speeds are quickly surpassing 100Mbps, you need to pay special attention to the maximum speed of the equipment on your local network, since it could quickly become the bottleneck instead of your internet connection.

This rule also applies to other devices on your local network. If you are using switches to distribute wired Ethernet to other parts of your home or to simply expand beyond the 4 wired ports provided by your router, you need to make sure that those switches also have Gigabit support.

Otherwise, you will max out at 100Mbps on any devices that connect through them.

How to access my router from the Internet

How to access my router from the Internet

Have you ever been away from home and needed to access something on your home computer or router?

It sounds convenient, right?

It sure would be easier than driving/flying back to your home, or asking a friend or family member to go to your house to retrieve what you’re looking for.

Well, never fear. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of setting up your router for accessing it remotely via the Internet.

Here’s how to access your router from the Internet:

  • Change your router’s Administrative password to a secure password (don’t leave it at default!)
  • Enable login capability to the router’s web interface from WAN (the Internet)
  • Enable Logging/Notifications (optional)
  • Determine your public IP address, or set up Dynamic DNS (preferred)
  • Test it (optional)
  • Log in!

If you aren’t very tech savvy, be sure to stick around until the end of the article where I discuss an alternate method that works just as well, but is easier to setup.

The need for remote access

There are many reasons someone would want to access their router from the Internet. Perhaps they need to change their Wi-Fi password for a roommate, set up remote access into their home network (called a VPN), or access files on a hard drive connected to their router.

Some people may not have a specific need to access their router from the Internet today, but they want to have the flexibility to do so in the future – since they know that they may well have the need at a later date.

Procedure:

Change your router’s admin password

A Wireless-N Access Point

Most routers have two different passwords – your WiFi password (which pretty much everyone is familiar with because they need to know it on a regular basis) and your admin password.

The admin password is what grants you access to the router’s management web interface, which is where you go to make changes to the router such as change/set IP addresses, change/set your WiFi network name (SSID), change/set your WiFi password, and much much more.

Most routers come out of the box with either a default password of something like ‘admin’ or ‘password’, which is very insecure. Some routers even have a blank admin password by default!

This isn’t a huge deal, because by default, the management interface is generally only accessible from a computer inside your network. However, we are about to enable access from the Internet, so you better believe it is important to change the password to something secure.

  1. Find the private IP of your router and enter it into a web browser. This is usually 192.168.1.1, 192.168.0.1, 10.0.1.1, or something similar (depends on the brand of your router). See here for help in identifying your router’s private IP.
  2. Enter your admin username and password. If you didn’t change these when you originally installed the router, they are likely still at the defaults. The username is usually ‘admin’ or ‘administrator’ and the password is usually ‘admin’ or ‘password’ by default. Again, this totally differs depending on the router manufacturer and model. If you can’t find it, I recommend searching Google for “[router model] default password”.
  3. Once you are logged in, you need to find the password setting. Usually there will be a “General”, “Admin”, or “Administrator” area of the settings, so try looking there. You may be able to change the username in addition to changing the password. This is recommended as it will greatly increase security. Just make sure you record it somewhere – if you forget it, you will have to reset the router to defaults to get back in.

Enable login from WAN

While you are still logged in to the router’s management interface, let’s enable remote login capability:

Person using a laptop

Generally the setting will be called something like “Allow login from WAN” or “Allow login from Internet”, but it differs widely between routers. This setting will usually live in the Advanced Settings area of the management interface.

Again, if you can’t find it, try searching Google for “[router model] login from wan”.

Enable logging and notifications

This step is entirely optional and your router may or may not support this feature. While still logged in, look for “logging”, “notifications”, or a similar section. It will likely appear under the “Advanced Settings” area or the “Admin” area.

Enable any logging you desire. This will cause the router to log events, such as when someone logs in to the management interface. You may even be able to have the router email you a notification when someone logs in – again this varies wildly by model and manufacturer.

This type of information is helpful from a security standpoint – so you will know if someone else manages to log in to your router over the internet (which would be bad!).

Determine your public IP address

I say “public” IP address, because your router actually has two IP addresses, and we are looking for the public IP, not the private IP.

Your IP address is exactly that – an address. It’s like your mailing address on the Internet. Your IP address is used anytime you want to send data to, or receive data from the Internet.

Since you are wanting to access your router from the Internet, you will need to know what your IP address is.

There are a couple of ways to figure this out:

Look on your router

One way to find your public IP address, is to log in to your router and have it show you your public IP address.

Once logged in, look for a screen or tab labeled “Status”. Every router is a little bit different, so you may have to look around a bit.

The status page will usually show your router’s status, including the “WAN” or “Internet” IP address.

Ask a website

The other easy method for determining your public IP, is to query a website.

There are many “What is my IP address?” type websites out there that will examine the traffic that your computer sends to it when the page is loading, determine the IP address your traffic is originating from, and display that address for you.

Google will tell you if you simply run a search for “what is my ip”. IP Chicken will also tell you:

ipchicken screenshot

Write it down

Once you have obtained your public IP address, write it down somewhere or email it to yourself. You will need it later.

Your IP address may change

It is not uncommon for your IP address to change from time to time, or even daily. Most residential providers use DHCP instead of static addressing – this means they can change your public address allocation at any time.


Usually, this isn’t a big deal and most people don’t even notice that their IP has changed. However, when you are going to be accessing your router from the Internet, it is important to be aware that your address could change.

I’ve seen some ISP’s using DHCP and your IP address doesn’t change for months or even years. I’ve also seen some ISP’s change your address every day.

My current ISP is like this – my IP address changes every 24 hours like clockwork. Dynamic DNS is absolutely critical for me because of this.

Thus, if you are leaving for a trip and hoping to access your router from the road, it is best to record your public IP just before you leave the house to maximize your chances that that will still be the IP assigned to your router when you attempt login.

Just be aware that if your IP address changes between the time you recorded it and the time you attempt to login remotely, you will not be able to login.

Professional Router installed in a Data Rack

For this reason, it is suggested to set up Dynamic DNS (DDNS), which will update automatically when your IP address changes. Thus, you will connect to your router using a hostname like “andrewshouse.no-ip.com” instead an IP address such as 73.48.231.17.

The DDNS server will automatically update the IP address that “andrewshouse.no-ip.com” resolves to every time it changes.

DDNS is an advanced topic and is only recommended to dabble in if you are a bit of an advanced user or if you are at least feeling adventurous!

Test it

If you want to be sure that remote login will work once you are away from home, it is best to test it beforehand.

To test, you will need to access a secondary internet connection other than your regular home broadband connection. This could be a neighbor’s house, using your internet connection at work, etc.

You could also temporarily enable the hotspot on your smartphone and tether your computer to it.

Sticky note with "run a usability test" written on it

Once you are on a different Internet connection:

  1. Open a web browser and enter your router’s public IP address (or DDNS fully qualified domain name) in the address bar, then press the enter key.
  2. You should be presented with a login prompt. If you are not, try entering “http://” or “https://” before the address and press enter again. If it still doesn’t work, you may also need to append a colon and port number behind the address, such as “:8443”.
  3. Once prompted, enter your management credentials and log in!

Log in

You are now ready to log in remotely. Regardless of where you travel to, as long as you have an Internet connection, you should be able to log in.

Hopefully you already tested your ability to login as shown above. The procedure for logging in when you are actually away from home will be the same.

An easier way

If you are less techie and are simply looking for a solution that works, you may also want to research setting up remote access to a computer at your home via a service such as TeamViewer.

Teamviewer Windows App Screenshot

TeamViewer and similar services can be set up for free to access the computer in question over the internet.

The downside, is that the computer has to be left on and connected to your home network at all times in order to work.

The upside, is that it requires no special configuration on your router, and Dynamic DNS doesn’t need to be set up. Simply connect to the remote computer via the TeamViewer app on your smartphone, PC, or Mac, and TeamViewer takes care of the rest.

If you still needed to access your router, you could launch a web browser on the remote PC using TeamViewer, and then login to the router’s private IP address normally as if you were at home.

This solution is simpler, but also relies on TeamViewer to be working in order to function, so there are pros and cons for sure.

Regardless of which method you choose, 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!

What is the best Router for Google Fiber?

linksys gaming routerThe 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 Nighthawk Smart WiFi Router (R6700) - AC1750 Wireless Speed (up to 1750 Mbps) | Up to 1500 sq ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB ports | Armor Security
Supports Gigabit connection to Google Network Box
802.11AC Support
Beamforming
Processor Cores
2
Prime
Linksys Dual-Band Wifi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast 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 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.

Can you have two routers in one house?

You are decluttering the electronics bin and remember that old router that you forgot to recycle.  You begin to wonder…

Electronics resale value falls notoriously fast and it often makes more sense to repurpose or recycle equipment versus selling.

Does this old router have any use?  Is there any reason to have two routers on the same home network?

In this article, we detail the reasons two routers may improve your home network and provide some tips on making sure your two routers play nice.

What do routers do? laptop wired to router

Obviously, your router “routes” internet traffic.  What else?

Routers request and receive content from the Internet

When you use your internet browser to Google questions that led you to this article, your router sent a request out and received an answer back from the Internet, which the router then forwarded to your specific device (laptop, tablet, phone, etc).

This is the core functionality of any router and the reason for its’ name, however routers generally serve many other needs within a network that are less known and happen behind the scenes.

Routers can listen for requests and provide configuration information for your network

A router usually acts as a DHCP server. Since other devices on your network such as laptops, printers, tablets, Smart TV’s, etc don’t generally have a network configuration when they first boot up, they rely on the DHCP server for their configuration (IP address, Gateway, DNS, etc).

Routers can function as wireless access points

With the right security settings in place, your router can safely function as a wireless access point.  Relating to security, the real muscle of a firewall in today’s world is no longer handled by your operating system but by your router.  (But go ahead and keep updating your operating system!)

Routers can extend your network’s physical size

For wired devices, your routers can also “switch” it up and act as a four-port switch, thus extending the number of devices that can be physically plugged into your network.

Why might one network need two routers?

router with lan cableIn short, to improve network range (to include the man cave), bolster coverage (to fix those dead zones upstairs), ensure reliability (you never know when the router is going belly up), and increase size (more ports in the storm).

How can you ensure your two routers will improve your network?

Multiple routers can make a network “two” crowded.  Basically, you still need to think of one router as the “one in charge” and any functionality that leads to and from the outside world must go through just that router.

Choosing one of the routers to be the liaison to the outside world provides a starting point for the ways your routers should be configured the same and how they need to be different.

What functionality do you want to make sure not to duplicate?

You need to look out for WAN (wide area network) versus LAN (local area network) port connections (how the routers access the outside world), DHCP configuration (making sure both routers aren’t handing out conflicting information to devices on your network), and the routers’ channels (ensuring your routers do not talk over one another on your own network).

Most importantly, do not connect the second router via the WAN porttwo router diagram

The WAN port (sometimes called the “Internet” port) is reserved to access the outside world.  If you connect your second router on the WAN port, duplicate routing occurs because your network is now divided by a firewall and each device that connects to your new network is NAT’d twice (once by each router).

Instead, you should connect the routers together via any of the LAN ports (numbering does not matter).  Remember, only one of your routers accesses the outside world. Refer to the diagram above.

DHCP configuration

Your home network is a bit like The Highlander – there can be only one!  With two routers, you want to disable DHCP server abilities on the second router to avoid IP address conflicts.

Otherwise, devices on your network may acquire their IP address from the router that does not have access to the outside world or the device may not be known by the primary router. This would lead to that device being disconnected from the Internet.

Make sure your routers do not use the same channel

This is especially important if your two routers are in close proximity (within fifty feet or so).  Channel duplication will cause interference and degrade the Wi-Fi performance of devices.

If your routers use 2.4 GHz, use a non-overlapping channel – see this article for help with choosing the best Wi-Fi channel.

Remember that frequencies matter

Consider whether the routers use 5 GHz versus 2.4 GHz wireless frequencies.  This impacts the range and bandwidth of routers.  A 5GHz router will provide faster data rates at a shorter distance while 2.4 GHz routers may improve coverage for farther distances at slower speeds

How should your routers be configured the same?

 

router status lights

Under most circumstances, you will want your routers to have the same SSID (bonus points if it makes your neighbors laugh), the same security and encryption (WPA2) protocols, and the same key/password.

These configurations will ensure that your Wi-Fi devices can automatically connect to your network and will roam to your second router when you go out of the range of your primary Wi-Fi network.

Should you ever have different SSIDs on the same network?

You can use different SSIDs and keys/passwords for each router if you like.  This creates a second wireless network with a different name.

This configuration does not enhance security, unless your router allows you to map each SSID to a different network connection using VLAN tagging.  When a device connects to an SSID, traffic is passed to the associated VLAN which has its own security settings.

This is an advanced topic, but can be simple to set up if your router supports “guest network” functionality. Using this feature, guest traffic can be isolated from the rest of the network or limited in the services (and speeds) it has access to.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, there are several reasons having two routers on your home network may be an improvement.

Remember one router is in charge and does all the talking to the outside world, but as far as your network’s name, the routers should usually be in agreement.  Plus, you can tell all your friends that you have a new tech upcycling hobby!