When it seems like your internet service is slow, there can be a variety of reasons why. Those can range from network congestion or weather issues to viruses, too many people on your home network to, yes, your router. And that’s the subject of today’s lesson: that dang router.
First off, know the difference between your router and your modem. The modem is the hardware that takes the signal from your satellite dish and gets it inside your house to your computer or your router. Unlike the olden days of internet, most people aren’t content to just have one Ethernet cable connecting their modem to a single computer. Instead, most of us use a wireless router, which takes that signal and broadcasts it a short distance via a radio signal. This is how you can share your signal with all of the connected devices in your home, from smartphones and TVs to gaming consoles and even connected thermostats and door cameras.
*Note: Thickening the plot of what’s-what, many internet providers, Exede included, offer modems that include a built-in wireless router. This article is primarily focused on external routers connected to the modem via an Ethernet cable.
Wireless routers, especially older ones, can be fickle things. Like that person who’s only ever comfortable if it’s exactly 74.3 degrees, routers like things just so. Here’s a rundown of things that could prompt your picky, pouty router to slow your internet:
- You’re too far away. Depending on the make and model of your router, your signal may only go 150 feet or so.
- There’s a brick wall or a wall with metal studs in the way. Routers don’t like those.
- There’s a baby monitor, a cordless phone, a microwave oven or some other kind of radio signal interfering with the router signal. Routers are jealous critters that prefer the airwaves to themselves.
- You haven’t password-protected your router and 17 of your neighbors are free-riding your signal.
- Your router is stuck on the floor next to Catsy Cline’s litterbox behind a 10-foot stack of unread National Geographics. Happy routers are placed high up, with no obstructions around them.
- You just looked at your router kinda funny. They don’t like that!
And finally, this: Your router is old! It’s so old that when your grandpappy last visited, he gestured at it with his iPhone 7 and croaked that your router looked “like something from the Eisenhower administration.” You want to protest that the internet wasn’t even around then, but you get his point. When you bought that router, the Cold War was just ending, people were doing the Macarena and the first Harry Potter books were just being released.
Yes, you admit to your grandpappy, it may be time for an upgrade. So here’s some good news about routers:
- They’re pretty cheap. Even the super-duper fanciest routers don’t go much over $200, but you can get a perfectly good one for $50-$100. Look for deals online or at places like Best Buy or Walmart.
- Routers get better every year. Like most electronic gizmos, router tech continues to improve, meaning today’s routers have better range, are less likely to be bothered by interference and have cool features like parental controls and easier-to-use interfaces.
- It’s not hard to install a new router. Plug in the power, connect to the modem with the supplied Ethernet cord and do a few simple setup things online and you’re in business.
If your router is more than five years old, it may be worth upgrading to a newer model.
For Exede customers, another other option is to upgrade to the Exede WiFi Modem, with that built-in router. The advantage here is that we support it, so if you ever need help with it, you can just ask us.
Whichever route you choose, just remember to throw a little love your router’s way. Make sure it’s got room to breathe, a clear view from up high and not too many devices connected to it. And if it’s getting a little long in the tooth, well, it may be time to put ‘er our to pasture and get something new. Here’s a PC Magazine post that rates the best routers. And if you want to go with the Exede WiFi Modem, just give us a call at 855-463-9333.