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What router solution would be best for me ?

Hi there,

I am using NTL [1Mb] cable modem on my pc, but I also need shared access for a laptop.

Some people say I should use a normal router, some same a wireless solution ?

Can you guys shed some [un-biased] expert advice on my options and possibly some links to some good hardware.

Many thanks.
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Eternal_Student
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Eternal_Student
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1 Solution
 
ElrondCTCommented:
Do you want your laptop to be able to move around and still be connected to the Internet (rather than always being in one place, such as right next to your desktop)? If so, then you need a wireless-capable router. You'd still want to plug your desktop computer in by wire. Wired access is inherently more stable and more secure than wireless, but the freedom of wireless is really nice to have.

If you use wireless, it is absolutely essential to use encryption on the signal; if you don't, not only are you allowing anyone in the area to potentially use your signal to access the Internet (maybe you care about that, maybe you don't), but you're also opening up a pathway for people to attack your computers.

Note that when you switch the connection of your cable modem from your PC to your new router, you need to turn off the cable modem. Cable modems for some reason lock onto the equipment ID of the computer they're attached to, and they won't talk to anything else until they're turned off. On the positive side, though, you don't have to program a login sequence.

I've had good results from Linksys, D-Link, and Netgear routers. I can't keep track of the model number changes, so I won't recommend specific models. I've been less happy with Belkin (for routers; some of their other equipment seems to work better).
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Eternal_StudentAuthor Commented:
Will the laptop need anything in particular to support wireless ?

It would be ideal if the laptop could move around, so I guess wireless is a good option. Im just a bit worried about the security side of things.

So I would connect my compute to the router via a cable and still have wireless access for the laptop ?

thanks for your time.
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ElrondCTCommented:
The laptop needs to have wireless networking capability. Most recent laptops have that built in; if yours doesn't, you can get a wireless adapter that either slides into the PCMCIA slot or plugs into a USB port.

Yes, you'd connect your desktop by cable (just unplug the current cable from the desktop, plug that into the router's WAN port, then run another cable from any of the other ports to your desktop), then use wireless access for the laptop. When you first get the router, test the wireless connection without encryption enabled first, to make sure you have the basic setup correct. Then go back and choose WPA security on both the router and the laptop (for the router, you go to its setup page, using your web browser; for the laptop, you go to Control Panel, Internet Connections; the setup guide for your router should give you more details). Don't use WEP security, as it's much less secure, unless you have no choice (if you have an older laptop or router, it may not be able to do WPA).

If you want to share access to printers or disks between computers, you'll want to run the "Set up a home or small office network" wizard in Control Panel, Network Connections (Windows XP; older versions don't have it). Run it on both computers. If you only want to share Internet access, you don't need to run the wizard.
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Eternal_StudentAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the information.

A couple of questions though ..

How do I find out if the laptop has wireless capabilities ?

Will I need my current software firewall ?
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ElrondCTCommented:
If you look in Control Panel, Network Connections, you should see a "Wireless Network Connection" (assuming XP). If there is none, then either you don't have built-in wireless or it hasn't been properly set up. Another way to check would be to go to the manufacturer's web site and get the product specs for your model.

A router includes a built-in firewall protecting against external attack, so a software firewall becomes less crucial when you're behind a router. However, a good software firewall (the XP Firewall doesn't qualify) also protects against programs accessing the Internet outbound without your knowledge; a router can't protect against that. So I have ZoneAlarm on my computer even though I have a router.
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Eternal_StudentAuthor Commented:
What do you guys think of this model ?
      
Netgear WGR614 802.11g/b WiFi Wireless Router
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ElrondCTCommented:
That looks like it should work fine for your needs. You'd plug your desktop computer into one of the ports in the back, then enable wireless access for your laptop. I recommend using WPA encryption; while it slows down the network connection a bit (because encryption requires math processing power), it's a highly secure connection method. The router should include instructions on how to set WPA up.
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