For almost all home networks, a router connects the local network to the internet via a cable/dsl modem. Most home routers have other features such as DHCP, a firewall, a de-militarized zone (DMZ) and port forwarding. Some even have a usb port to connect a printer for easy use from any computer.
The router actually has 2 IP addresses
Yes, the router has 2 IP address. One is the public IP address. This is the IP address that shows up to the outside world. WhatIsMyIP.com is one of the many sites that can tell you what your public IP address is.
The other is the local IP address. This is on the same subnet as all the computers on your network. This usually ends with a “.1”.
Configuring the router
Most routers can be configured directly from your web browser. All you have to do is type in the local IP of the router. You should be prompted to enter a username and password. These can be found in the manual along with the subnet IP of the router. If you don’t have the manual, you can download them from the manufacturer.
DHCP hands out IP addresses automatically. Make sure this option is turned on. It makes life a lot easier. Also, make sure your computers are configured to use DHCP.
Either set up DHCP on the computers that are connected or assign them a unique IP address in the subnet. I’d suggest going DHCP, as it makes life easier. If you’re brave enough to try static IP addresses, don’t turn off DHCP in the router, in case you mess up the IP address or subnet mask.
Standard routers use ethernet cables to connect computers to it and to connect it to the cable/dsl modem. These can be hazards if running across the floor. They can also be expensive. If you want to make your own, it’s fairly simple and inexpensive. Click here for wikiHow’s How to Make a Network Cable. You can even get ethernet wall jacks, they look just like phone jacks.
Where to purchase
You can get these anywhere. You don’t need all the fancy bells and whistles. The biggest question is whether you want wireless or not. If you’re going wireless, go with the “802.11G”.
One of the best places to purchase a used router is the flea market. It sounds a bit shady, but usually honest and good people work up there, and the price is 50% off the retail version.