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I have a single desktop PC here at my house, and I'm about to get a new laptop. Currently, I connect to my internet provider through a modem connected directly to my desktop, but I want to get a wireless router so that my laptop can also connect to the internet (obviously).

The thing is:
I know that some routers need to maintain a cable connection to the main desktop (which must stay on) in order to be able to provide internet connection to the other computers;
while other routers only need to be connected directly to an online modem, which means I could get a connection on my laptop even if the desktop is turned off.

I want to make sure I buy one of the latter, but I don't know how to ask (or look) for one. Is there a name for this function or something? I was just gonna ask the salesman, but I thought I'd give ait try here first.


share|improve this question
I've never heard of "routers [that] need to maintain a cable connection to the main desktop (which must stay on) in order to be able to provide internet connection to the other computers". All Wifi routers I have used provide wireless access, even if the PC connected with a cable is off. – Snark Oct 8 '09 at 6:11
@Snark: You are right. But Initialy to setup a router and configure it for wireless, you need wired connection. Else you wont be able to setup wireless connection. I know that my model netGear is like that! It specifically asked for wired connection for configuring wireless the first time. – vpram86 Oct 8 '09 at 6:16
@Snark: A friend of mine has a router that works like that. His modem needs to connect to the PC, which then connects to the router, which distributes the connection to the other computers. I do believe it's a reasonably old router, and it's not even wireless, so I really don't know if there's still any of those for sale. But since I'm really no expert in this area, I thought it was better safe than sure. – Malabarba Oct 8 '09 at 6:23
@DConnors: If one computer is directly connected to the modem, where is the router present? I think modem should be connected to router directly, and then from router you take it to all machines. Rght? – vpram86 Oct 8 '09 at 6:35
@Aviator, some ISP's set up the desktop to connect on demand only (DSL usually). Most modern routers can maintain that connection indefinitely (and spoof the desktop MAC), but it wasn't always the case. Yes, cable modem -> router -> network is the ideal setup. – hyperslug Oct 8 '09 at 22:24
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I think you're not describing a router but rather a cable modem:

Some cable modems are meant as single-computer devices and expect the login information to be sent from the computer.

The solution in such a case is to attach a router to the cable modem and have the router provide this login information. That way, the router keeps the cable modem connection alive, and it doesn't matter whether any one or more computers are on or off.

What router should you buy:

I would recommend any router that has wireless as well as (at least one) wired port, because the wired port is handy for troubleshooting when wireless fails. In particular, Linksys routers often get positive comments. Here are some that you could consider.

If you dare, there are even custom firmwares for these that enable you to control your internet connection in many good ways - see here for details.

share|improve this answer
Yeah, I'm starting to get the feeling I got it all wrong in the first place. At least now I'm more informed on what not to worry about. =) – Malabarba Oct 8 '09 at 6:38
+1 on Linksys. I think I'd put the big three in this order in terms of reliability: Linksys then D-Link then Netgear. – hyperslug Oct 8 '09 at 22:28

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