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Computer 101: Wireless Routers

So you’ve heard about this thing called a router.  You know it has something to do with the Internet, and you need one for home wireless, but you have no idea what it does, or why you should even care about it.  Well you’ve come to the right place!  Geek Easy Computers is here to answer your questions and provide some insight into this technology that is rapidly becoming a standard in the average Internet-connected household!


First lets define what a router is.  In Geek-speak, a router passes traffic between two dissimilar networks. To put it very simply, a router is an electronic device that takes an incoming Internet or network signal, and distributes that signal to connected devices (i.e computers, laptops, printers, etc.) via ethernet cables.  In other words it takes the data that is coming into the router and makes that data accessible to whatever is connected to it.  A wireless router takes that operation a step further.  Not only can you connect devices to it via ethernet cables, but you also connect to it wirelessly with mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.


Wireless routers come in different “flavors” called protocols, which dictate various aspects of the router.  The majority of both residential and commercial wireless routers use protocols in the 802.11 family.  These include the original 802.11, 802.11b, and 802.11g consecutively.  Each generation improved the range and resistance to interference.  The common current standard, 802.11n,  improves upon the previous 802.11 standards by adding multiple-input multiple-output antennas (MIMO). 802.11n operates on both the 2.4GHz and the lesser used 5GHz bands. The new standard 802.11ac makes better use of the 5GHz band, but so far these routers are quite expensive. Wireless routers also come in varying speeds.  The typical residential router is 150Mbps-300Mbps but higher-end routers can be found with speeds from 450Mbps-750Mbps.


So how do you know what to get?  Well the easiest way is to let the experts at Geek Easy Computers setup a wireless solution for you!  But we know some of you are “do-it-yourself” types, and we’re here for you too.  The first thing you want to look for is the protocol.  Always make sure the router is rated for the latest protocol.  Not only will this ensure more compatibility, but also increases your options for securing your router.  Secondly choose your speed.  Our recommendation is always get the fastest you can afford.  It’s better to not need all of the speed than to need it and not be able to achieve it.


Another key consideration are single & multiple antenna models and the strength of the wireless radio. A good rule of thumb is if your signal has to travel through more than a couple of walls or more than one story then you would benefit from additional antennas and a stronger wireless radio.  More antennas and more powerful antennas can help with signal reception, and a better wireless radio will help the signal broadcast farther. We also recommend sticking with well known, major brands that have proven performance.  At Geek Easy Computers we stick to TP-Link for our residential wireless needs and Ubiquity for commercial solutions.


And there you have the basics of wireless routers.  Of course there are more detailed, and technical aspects that we greatly simplified for this post.  If you’d like more information, feel free to ask us!  We are also available to create a wireless solution for your home or business.  Just give us a call, email us, or even stop in.  We want to make your technology easier!


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