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Neanderthal needs computer help...
Old 02-27-2012, 11:37 PM
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Red face Neanderthal needs computer help...

Keeping in my mind that I did not set up my computer equipment myself, and I know which one's the router and which is the modem.......but not much else...

I want to share my internet connection with my sister's computer (which is upstairs). My internet provider says my modem is not wireless capable and would need to be changed for one that is, which they would have to install (for $49.99).

So, how can I tell if this is true? The reason I doubt what they told is that the first tech guy told me I need to get a second router, and the sales guy told me I need a new modem. In both cases of course, they recommend buying from them.

I'm tech-dumb, here, people. Should I just go with what the second guy told me, or is there a way to do this myself with a mimimum of confusion?
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:43 PM
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I don't know all that much about routers and modems but I think you should look for a light labeled "Wireless" on the devices, as far as I know, if there's one then it can do wireless, and if there isn't, it can't.
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:52 PM
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the way our system is set up is that we have a modem and then have a wireless router that we hook up the laptops too.

Now I have just enough knowledge to be very dangerous.
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Old 02-28-2012, 02:14 AM
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Some modems are also routers. (Or inversely, some routers are also modems.)

Essentially: the modem is the unit which converts the signal along the cable OUTSIDE your house to the signal INSIDE your house, and vice versa. It's an interpreter.

The router reads the signal packages, and says 'oh, this one's for MoonCat, that one's for her sister, this one's for MoonCat again...'. It's the postman.

Sometimes the two are in the same box. Sometimes they're not.

What you're after is a router which has not just wired 'pigeonholes' to send the packages through, but wireless 'pigeonholes' as well.

This can be put in the same box as a modem. Confusingly, some salespeople (sales weasels) call those 'wireless modems'. They're not. To a technician, they're 'wireless modem-routers'.
Actually, there's no one technical term for modem/router combo units, but that's what the sales weasel who offered you a 'wireless modem' to fix the issue was offering you.

Personally, I'd go for a specialised wireless router, and hang on to your old router. Modern routers are small enough that you can just shove the old one in a cupboard someplace: if anything happens to the wireless, you can swap it out for the old one while you get it fixed.

Assuming that the units you were being offered were the same quality and price; there's no particular reason to choose one over the other.
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Old 02-28-2012, 03:55 AM
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Yes, go with the wireless router. I had Comcast and used a wired modem. The modem has a coax cable port for the connection outside, and had an Ethernet jack to be connected to a computer or router. I had this connected to the wireless router, and my main machine downstairs connected wirelessly to the router. Since we recently switched to FiOS, and the piece they give you is a modem that's built in to a wireless router.

If you were to go with a second modem, that would require you to have a second line installed so that you would have your own internet line, and your sister would have her own internet line. Totally unnecessary. A good wireless router should run you $40 or less, and I've seen refurbished ones at Big Lots for $25 before. Wireless routers go by 3 speeds: 802.11b (slow), 802.11g (faster), and 802.11n (fastest). The ones I mentioned will allow 802.11n speeds, but they're backwards compatible so that other wireless devices, like an older iPod Touch, will connect to the router at an 802.11g speed. A good benefit to this is that if your sister connects to the router using an 802.11g device (iPod Touch, iPhone, Laptop, etc), and you're on your computer surfing at the fastest speed, your surfing speed won't be slowed down to the slower 802.11g speed that's also being used.

A wireless router should have 5 Ethernet ports on the back, which look like thicker telephone ports. 4 of them are for direct wired connections to other computers, and the 5th one is for the cable or DSL modem. Even if your computer has a wireless card or dongle, you still want to connect an Ethernet cable from your computer to one of the 4 ports on the wireless router. Why? A wired connection will always be faster than a wireless connection, and since the equipment will be close together, it makes sense to add one more cable.

As far as your sister's computer, hopefully it has a wireless card or USB dongle on it to be linked to the wireless router you'll be using. If not, you can pick an 802.11n card or wireless USB dongle for $10-$20 on eBay. Once you get those connected you'll have to set up security, and that's another subject.

Old 02-28-2012, 07:03 AM
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Since Moon is, self-admittedly, not tech-savvy, may I suggest baby steps?
I know which one's the router and which is the modem.......but not much else...
Not to sound too harsh, but neither do we. We'll need to know the make and model #s of the respective items (e.g., I'm using an Ambit (now UBee) modem with a DLink DIR-615N-vE1 router). Also helpful to know is what operating system(s) you're using on the computers. Instructions for a Mac are different than Windows or Linux.

Seshat and emax4 cover the options pretty well, but I'll defer my opinion until I know what you already have, what you'll need to get, and what your budget is. I can add some basic info, though...

WiFi-B (802.11b) allows for wireless transmission of up to 11Mbps (small "b" means "bits", big "B" means "Bytes"). My current ISP is set for a maximum (cap) of 8Mbps. If you just did the math, you'll realize that even the old WiFi-B can easily handle a full-speed download. So, why go with WiFi-G or N? Well, it falls down to whether you transfer files between computers on the same network. If you have, say, a Playstation streaming music in the living room from another computer holding the files in the basement, then you really want it to handle them fast (G=54Mbps, N=108/150/300Mbps). Since I rarely need to do this, and also run many older computers that don't support G or N, I can live just fine using B.

Problem is, WiFi-B was designed to use just WEP encryption, which can be cracked in mere minutes by today's programs. In order to use newer WPA/WPA2/RADIUS encryption, you'll need G or N. If you use N, the only options are non-WEP. Yes, even WPA has been exploited lately, but a super computer took about 3 days to crack the key, and a modern laptop banging away at it will take somewhere between a week and 6 months. If someone is parked outside your house for that long, I'm pretty sure you'd notice them and call the police.

As emax4 stated, keep at least one computer wired to the router. This will:
- let you determine if any connection problems are wireless-based or router/modem/ISP-based.
- let you turn off "Wireless Remote Access" of the router. This is a big security risk having it on, and may allow a drive-by laptop user to login and change the router's settings. Keeping it to wired-only means that only a plugged-in computer physically attached to the router can change things.
- allow you to set up said computer to act as a media server for your home network, or allow further networking tools (packet sniffing, traffic flow, etc.) to be used.
- allows for an easy to make Wireless Access Point (WAP) by adding a WiFi adapter (USB "dongle" or PCI card) and enabling Internet Connection Sharing (ICS).

As I mentioned to blas in another post, networking can get pretty hairy pretty fast. So, let's start with the baby steps first, okay?

"Just the facts, ma'am"

Old 02-28-2012, 02:51 PM
sevendaysky sevendaysky is offline
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Wireless MAY not be the best option depending on house configuration. In the POS 1970s trailer I'm living in now, the router and modem live in the middle of the house, and there are two wired connections running along the ceiling to either end of the house to provide 'net for my computer and my roommate's. Depending on the total distance from your sister's computer to where your router lives, it may be possible to just buy a separate cable (you can get them at Walmart) and run it along baseboards/headboards, down the side of the stairs, etc. Like I said, it depends on distance.

Baby steps... first: determine distance. Second, look at the location of your router. Are there a lot of thick walls, electrical items, etc between you and your sister's computer? (this includes vertical and horizontal distance) If not, then a wireless may be possible, but be prepared for it to not work. If it's a relatively short distance consider dropping a cable instead. (The cables come already prepared with the ends already on the cable, so all you need to do is 'plug and play' once you have the cable laid out and secured with cable ties, bracket nails, etc.)

Old 02-28-2012, 03:07 PM
TheCheerfulTreeRat TheCheerfulTreeRat is offline
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I'll echo barcode and say that the first step is What have you got? That in itself will give you a lot of info about what you're connecting to and what your options are. and there's nearly always WAY more than one option...

Old 02-28-2012, 10:25 PM
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We need a layout - from intake of the house cable (the wall where the cable coax comes from) all the way to the router. Every time a piece of hardware changes..anything different on the wires.
outside of house--cable--splitter?--to cable box--whatever-next -thingy

Every piece of hardware @ the computer end needs to be identified. Pics are great.
house description, age, location of puter and location of sister's request.
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Old 02-29-2012, 04:25 AM
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MoonCat MoonCat is offline
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Hmm.....what comes before baby steps?

It's late and I'll have to come back to this tomorrow, but I will say that her computer is detecting my network, so the walls/floors/ceiling don't seem to be a problem.

The router has 4 ports plus the one labeled 'internet.' I can't provide pics, though.

I have to go to bed...I'll come back to this tomorrow. Thanks for the info so far, everybody!
Not sure who I am anymore, where I am, or where I'm going. I only know where I've been, and you don't get far if you spend all your time looking backwards.
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