Your Router and Network Questions Answered

Tech Talker answers reader and listener questions about last week's episode: Switches, Hubs, Bridges, and Routers Explained.

Eric Escobar
Episode #102

Your computer is the car and your network is the road. Your speed is only limited to the road you can drive on. So if you have a super fast car and a really nice track, your car can drive really fast on it. It may not go very fast on the road connecting your racetrack to the rest of the world, but for anything on the racetrack, it's lightning speed.

For example if you were backing your computer up to a hard drive on your network, it would transfer files much faster than if you were doing it over the internet.

The last reason I recommend a gigabit router has to do with future-proofing your technology. A really good router which has gigabit speeds will throw you back about $50-70, whereas a non-gigabit (oftentimes a 100 megabit) router may cost between $30-$60. So for around $20 more you get 10 times the speed.

Question #2

This next question came from numerous people posting on the Tech Talker Facebook page and through emails:

"Why do I need to restart my router every couple of days?"

I'm sure all of you have run across this at some point in your lives. Your internet stops working or slows down dramatically, until you unplug your router and plug it back in. After you do this your router comes back online and everything is back to normal.

Unfortunately, this is not an easy thing to answer as it could be caused by a number of things. If your router is more than 5 years old, I recommend checking to see if there is a firmware update available for your router. The update might fix the exact reason your router is locking up!

If that doesn't work, I would try switching out someone else's router for yours to see the culprit of the malfunction. If your second router failis the same way, you might want to check your modem and start taking devices off your network one by one to see which one is causing the issue.

One of the devices connected to your network may have something wrong with it, and might be causing a high volume of traffic on your network that is bogging your router down. I've seen old XP laptops do exactly this!

If you can't find out exactly what it is, or can't afford to buy a new router, there's a quicka nd dirty trick that you can use. Get a cheap Christmas light timer and plug your router into it. Set it to click off and on once a day. This will cause the router to restart once a day (preferably at night when you're not using your computer) and you won't have to spend time and energy unplugging and restarting.

Cutting the power to the router restarts it, which often will clear up whatever initially froze your router up in the first place! 

Question #3

"Hey Tech Talker, should I connect my gaming console over WiFi or a wired connection?" - Andy

Well Andy this is a very easy question to answer! If it is reasonable for you to get your console wired internet access, then do it! A wired internet connection is a much faster and more stable connection. Wireless internet is great because it's so easy to use, but it also has a ton of interference which may make a game lag or it might drop the connection more easily.

With that, here are your 3 Quick and Dirty answers to your most pressing questions on routers, switches, hubs, and bridges:

  1. Gigabit speeds in a router are a bit more expensive, but allow for file transfers and communication of your home devices to be much faster.
  2. If it seems like your router needs to be reset often, check to see if there's updated firmware for your router. If that's not the case. try troubleshooting to find what's causing the issue on your network. If all else fails, try the Christmas light timer trick.
  3. If you ever have to chose between gaming over WiFi or a wired connection, always chose the wire. It will be faster and more reliable.

Well that's all for today! Have a question about anything in this episode? Or a suggestion for a future podcast? Send me an email at techtalker@quickanddirtytips.com or post it on the Tech Talker Facebook wall.

As always check the shownotes to see a list of the programs I’ve mentioned in today’s episode. And go to quickanddirtytips.com/tech-talker for a full archive of episodes.

Until next time, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple!

Race car and other images courtesy of Shutterstock.



About the Author

Eric Escobar
The Quick and Dirty Tips Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.