Don't forget the router

Are you hoping or planning for a tablet, eBook reader, laptop or even another desktop computer for Christmas? When you’re doing your shopping, don’t forget about the router.

Why do I need a router?

You might not. If you only have one computer and it’s located near your cable or ADSL modem, you’re fine. But if you are going to connect anything that is not a cell phone to the Internet, you need a router. A router is not the same thing as a modem. A modem provides a way to connect one device to the internet. A router joins multiple networks together, and makes it possible for your computers, tablets, and smartphones to connect to the Internet.

If you want to connect to the internet with more than one device at a time, you need a router to manage that. And if you are going to connect to the internet without actually plugging in a network cable, you need a router with WiFi capability. So your iPad, Android tablet, Blackberry Playbook, iPod Touch, eBook reader, and so on will need that wireless network to communicate with the outside world. The router then becomes that one device connected to the modem.

You might already have one!

If you are a Telus internet customer, you might have a single piece of gear that contains both a modem and a router. If not, Telus can provide you with a modem/router combination. Shaw customers can also get a modem/router combination. If the device you’ve been referring to as a “modem” has four places in the back of it where you can connect computers, it’s also a router. And it’s almost certainly a wireless router.

If you don’t have a modem/router combination and you need a router, you can find one in any computer or electronics store. You’ll need to set it up or have someone set it up for you. I do this all the time, and after awhile it got pretty easy. If you have never done it before, please, please, please read and follow the included instructions carefully. If you don’t do every step in the right order, you will frustrate yourself.

Now what?

Once you have your router installed and your wireless network configured, you can start connecting your devices to it. Remember how I mentioned in the beginning of this article that a router joins multiple networks together? This means that you can connect devices to the router with cables and with WiFi, and they will still be on YOUR network. The router then joins those devices to the huge network of networks --- the internet.

So your desktop computer can happily connect via a network cable, you can work at your laptop in the kitchen by connecting wirelessly, and your significant other can grab more books for the Kobo or Kindle over the wireless connection, all at the same time!

“What about wireless printers?” I hear you ask. That’s an excellent question! I’ll get to that in the near future.

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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