People all over the world use the Internet every single day, often doing so without giving a single thought to how it works. As such, many Internet users are unclear about what roles the individual devices in their networks play. One very common source of confusion is the difference between routers and modems. Though many people think these devices are the same, and the terms are often (mistakenly) used interchangeably, they are two different devices that carry out different functions. The modem is the device that connects your home to the Internet, while the router is what controls the network within your home. Understanding the difference between these two will be a great help next time your network runs into problems. In this blog, we will discuss the difference between modems and routers in detail.
To start, let’s look at the three main differences between routers and modems. The first difference is that modems bring the Internet to your network, while routers bring the Internet from your network to your devices. Second, a modem has a public IP address, while routers assign local IP addresses. Third, modems utilize a wide area network (WAN), while routers create a local area network (LAN).
The modem connects your network to your Internet service provider (ISP), usually via a coaxial cable connection. Once connected, the modem receives a signal from the ISP which is then converted to signals that your local devices can use. The modem also takes signals from your local devices and sends them back to the ISP. This connection from the network to the ISP is known as the wide area network. Each modem is given a unique public IP address that serves as an identifier for the network on the Internet.
The router, on the other hand, is what connects your devices to one another. In a hard-wired setup, the router also connects your devices to the modem, either through the use of an Ethernet cable or via a WiFi signal. Routers create a local area network, allowing your devices to share files and connect to peripheral devices. Routers manage all of the information moving between each device and the modem, while ensuring the information is directed, or routed, to the correct destination. Despite this, a router does not require connection to a modem to function. You can alternatively use a router to create a local area network without internet access. Essentially, a router can carry out four functions: it assigns a local IP address to all devices on the network, creates a firewall to prevent security breaches, manages the traffic on your network, and handles network preferences, such as parental control.
To help differentiate the two devices, think of your modem like a translator and your router like a traffic controller. They are two separate devices, though new technologies have allowed the two devices to be merged into a single machine. These multi-functional devices offer the ability for users to stream videos, browse the internet, and connect with smart devices from a single source. Additionally, despite being made with state of the art technology, they are easy and convenient to use. Whether you have a device like this or a separate router and modem, they are integral parts of any network.
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