If you want your computer to be able to access the internet in your home, you need to connect it to a router.
The same applies to your home network. you need to connect your computer to your router if you want it to be able to communicate with other devices on your home network.
Reading: How to connect desktop to router
There are two ways to accomplish this. you can connect your computer to your router directly through a wired connection, or you can connect the two devices wirelessly.
The good news is that both procedures are quite simple. each should take you less than a few minutes to complete.
You should know the two ways to connect your computer to a router. there are situations where one way of connecting to your router will give you better performance than the other connection method.
When you connect to your router with a wired connection, you only need an ethernet cable. The ethernet cable connects your computer and the router so they can communicate directly with each other.
all you have to do is connect the ethernet cable to the correct ports on your computer and router.
In a wireless connection, your computer will connect to your router via Wi-Fi. this allows them to communicate without an ethernet cable.
For this type of connection, you will need to connect to the wireless signal coming from your router. you won’t be able to do this without your router’s wireless network password.
In this post, I will go into detail about the procedures to connect your computer to your router. I’ll also explain the benefits of each type of connection.
why you need to connect to a router
You may be wondering: why does my computer need to connect to a router in the first place?
To answer that question, we need to look at what a router does.
the purpose of a router
I’ll keep this on a high level.
Your router is responsible for directing traffic between the devices on your home network. If you have an internet plan (as I’m assuming you do if you’re reading this), your router also manages the traffic between your internet and internet devices. when your devices request information from the internet, your router makes sure the requests get to the right place.
when it returns a response from the internet with the requested information (such as a web page), your router ensures that the device that requested the information is the one that receives it.
A common analogy for your router is the post office. Just like a post office makes sure your letters get to the right destination, your router does the same for your internet requests.
Without a router, your devices wouldn’t be able to connect to the internet in the first place.
benefits of a router
Okay, now we can get back to the question at hand.
why can’t your computer access the internet without a router?
Although it is possible to gain access to the Internet without a router by connecting your computer directly to your modem, it is neither safe nor smart to do so.
Your router makes your devices more secure on the internet because it has built-in security features.
Also, your router allows you to connect multiple devices to the internet at the same time.
how do you do this?
your router is connected to your modem (or they are combined into one device). These two devices provide you with a connection to your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
in turn, your isp provides your internet connection.
here is a diagram to help you visualize your home network connections:
The important thing here is that your ISP provides you with only one connection to the internet as part of your internet plan.
If you didn’t have a router, you could only connect one device to the internet at a time because you only have one internet connection available.
Can you imagine how painful that would be?
This is the main reason you need to connect your computer to a router. Simply put, it’s because your router allows all your internet devices to share an internet connection.
In today’s society, everyone has multiple devices connected to the internet at the same time. this is normal thanks to your router.
Without a router, you couldn’t do that.
I hope you now have a good understanding of why your computer needs to connect to a router.
With this basic information, let’s walk through the procedures for connecting your computer to your router.
Connecting a computer directly to a router
The first way you can connect your computer to your router is through a direct connection.
A direct connection involves the use of a cable to connect the computer and the router. this allows the two devices to communicate over the cable.
benefits of directly connecting a computer and router
connecting your computer and router with one cable provides multiple benefits.
On the one hand, it is the most direct way for the two devices to communicate.
Using a cable to communicate reduces the latency in your connection. this means that data moves faster between the two devices when they communicate.
In other words, when you request a website, you will receive it a little faster from your router with a wired connection.
This is also very important in online games. every millisecond counts.
when you press a key on your keyboard, the game will respond faster when you have your computer connected directly to your router. faster reactions give you an advantage over other players who have more latency on their internet connection.
Lastly, a wired connection will provide better performance during uploads compared to a wireless connection. this is important when uploading large files to the internet or during video conferences.
more reliable connection
connecting your computer directly to your router provides another important benefit.
a more reliable connection.
When you use a cable to connect these two devices, it is unlikely that the connection between the two will drop.
on the other hand, if you try to connect to your router wirelessly, you are much more likely to lose the connection.
I’m sure this has happened to every person who reads this.
Like that time you went out of range of your Wi-Fi signal and lost your internet connection?
yes, that has happened to me too.
You don’t have to worry about that when you connect your computer and router with a cable.
The only way to lose the connection between the two is if something goes wrong with the cable. that’s not a likely scenario since the cables are built to be very reliable.
very rarely you will have problems with them.
what you’ll need to connect your computer to your router
The only thing you will need to connect your computer to your router is a cable.
These cables are called ethernet cables.
The only thing you need to worry about is making sure you get the right cable for your internet connection.
Fortunately, this is an easy exercise because there is one type of cable to suit all your needs. If you don’t have an ethernet cable handy, grab a snagless cat5e ethernet cable of the length you need. I would suggest a seven to ten foot cord, but you may need longer depending on your home design.
a cat5e ethernet cable will fit your needs here, regardless of what internet plan you have. On top of that, ethernet cables are cheap, so it won’t cost you much to implement a wired connection.
how to connect your computer to your router with an ethernet cable
Once you have an ethernet cable to connect your computer to your router, it’s a fairly easy process.
In this example I will use my yellow ethernet cable.
Connect the ethernet cable to your router
First, let’s find where the ethernet cable connects to your router.
Depending on the type of router you have, you will have a certain number of ports that you can directly connect your devices to.
these are called lan ports. lan stands for local area network, and in this case lan is used to describe your home network.
In most cases, there will be four LAN ports on your router.
As you can see, my router has four lan ports that are labeled “ethernet”.
All you have to do is plug one end of your ethernet cable into an open port. The beauty is, it doesn’t matter which port you use or which end of the cable you plug in. Any open port will do.
To prove my point, I’ll connect my ethernet cable to port 4.
Connect your ethernet cable to your computer
okay, we’re halfway there.
now we just need to connect the other end to our computer.
what does that look like?
If you look at your computer, you should have a port that looks like one of your router’s lan ports.
On my laptop, the lan port is on the side.
As you may have guessed, we just need to plug the other end of our ethernet cable into this port.
Congratulations. You’ve connected your computer and router together.
The wired connection is complete and your computer and router can now communicate over the ethernet cable.
If the wired connection works, there should be an indicator in the corner of your computer indicating that you have a wired network connection.
As long as your router has an internet connection, you can now use the internet with a faster and more reliable wired connection.
what if my computer doesn’t have an ethernet port?
Recently, I’ve seen a trend of computers not having an ethernet port.
If your computer doesn’t have an ethernet port, don’t worry. all is not lost.
You can still connect an ethernet cable to your computer. you just need an adapter.
what you are looking for is a usb connector with an ethernet cable adapter. this will basically take one of your computer’s usb ports and turn it into an ethernet port.
As a reminder, your computer’s usb ports will look like this:
Your computer will most likely have multiple USB ports, so hopefully you have an open USB port to use.
When looking for a usb to ethernet adapter, there are many options online. I recommend this one from uni. It has all the latest technology in terms of usb and ethernet connections, so you don’t have to worry about it limiting your connection.
grab one of those and voila. just plug the adapter into one of your computer’s usb ports and then plug the ethernet cable into the adapter.
It doesn’t get any easier than that.
connect a computer to a router via wifi
OK, now we’ve covered connecting your computer to a router with an ethernet cable.
Let’s look at the other option: connecting your computer to a router wirelessly.
a wireless connection allows you to connect to your router and access the internet without an ethernet cable. this happens over wifi.
Don’t let the term confuse you. Wi-Fi is simply the technology used to connect devices wirelessly.
Your router broadcasts a wireless network signal to all of your wireless internet devices. your devices receive the signal and can establish a connection with your router through this wireless network.
once a connection has been created, your router and devices can communicate as if they were connected to each other with an ethernet cable. the only difference is that they send data to each other over the air.
benefits of connecting a computer to a router via wifi
How is a wireless connection different from a wired connection? Are there any benefits to wireless communication?
I bet there is.
freedom of your router
The main benefit of connecting to your router wirelessly is the most obvious.
You don’t need a cable between the two devices for them to communicate. In other words, connecting to your router wirelessly can be much more convenient.
in fact, you don’t even have to be in the same room as your router to connect to it. it also has the ability to move with your computer without losing connection.
On the other hand, if you tried to move around with a wired connection to your router, you would look like a fish at the end of a line. not the easiest thing to do.
easier to connect multiple devices to your router at the same time
Wireless connections also allow you to connect more devices to your router at the same time. As we saw earlier, most routers only have 4 ethernet ports. If you have a lot of internet devices that you want to connect to your router with a wired connection, things can get complicated.
Even with an ethernet switch, there’s only a limited number of devices you can connect to your router before the wiring gets really confusing.
For those concerned with appearances, this is another benefit of connecting to your router wirelessly. The fewer ethernet cables you have from your router, the cleaner your house will look.
You don’t have to worry about trying to hide the rat’s nest of ethernet cables coming from the back of your router. for some, this is more important than others.
Last thing I’ll say is that while a wireless connection may have higher latency than a wired connection, this doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t have a fast internet experience.
we’re talking about a difference of milliseconds here. unless you’re measuring it, you probably won’t be able to tell.
what you’ll need to wirelessly connect your computer and router
Compared to a wired connection, you need even less to connect your computer and router wirelessly.
all you need is a computer and a router.
The only situation where you may need another item is if your computer does not have Wi-Fi capability.
this is unlikely as your computer would have to be very old not to have wireless technology.
If for some reason this is the case, you just need a wireless adapter. It plugs into one of your computer’s USB ports and allows your computer to communicate with other devices over Wi-Fi.
If you need a wireless adapter, check this one out. it should provide you with everything you need to connect wirelessly to your router. It’s also compatible with any internet plan so you don’t have to worry about your internet speed slowing down.
how to connect your computer and router via wifi
Let’s say your computer and router are powered on and ready to go.
Now what? How do we make them connect to each other?
determine the ssid you want to connect to
To make things easier for you, the remaining steps can be done from your computer.
all you have to do is connect to your router’s wireless network. another name for your router’s wireless network is its service set identifier, or ssid.
your ssid will be the custom name you chose for your network when you set up your router.
If you haven’t created a custom ssid, your router’s ssid will be the default one it came with. you should be able to find the default ssid information in a label on your router.
for example, here is the default ssid information in my router tag.
Once you’ve determined the SSID you’re looking for, you need to find it in your computer’s Network and Internet settings.
find the desired ssid in your computer’s internet settings
As a disclaimer, the following instructions are for windows computers. the steps will be slightly different for mac users.
Okay, let’s find the network and internet settings on your computer.
First, click on the little window icon in the corner of your computer. this will open a list of options. select “settings”.
In the window that opens, you need to select Network & Internet. This’ll show you all your network options and settings.
A new window will open. Select “Wi-Fi” in the side toolbar. Clicking it will show you all your WiFi options.
On the wifi settings page, the last thing you need to do is select “show available networks”.
When you select “Show available networks”, a list of available wireless networks will be listed for your computer.
Make sure your computer is close to your router at this time so its SSID shows up in the list of available options.
if you see your router’s ssid in the list of available networks, select it and you will be prompted to enter the network password.
enter the password for your ssid
If you’ve set up a custom ssid for your network, you’ve probably also created a custom password. enter this custom password here to connect to your wireless network.
If you haven’t created a custom ssid and password for your router’s network, you can find the password for the default ssid on your router’s label. may appear as “wireless password”, “wireless pin” or “wireless access code”.
This is what it looks like on my router.
Upon correctly typing in the SSID’s password, you’ll be connected to your router’s WiFi network.
well done! You have successfully connected your computer to your router via wifi.
You’ll know you have a wireless connection if you can see the little Wi-Fi icon in the corner of your computer near the date and time information.
You are now armed with the ability to connect your computer to your router. you can connect the two devices directly with an ethernet cable or you can connect them wirelessly.
If you have any trouble connecting to your router or if you have any questions about the information I’ve provided, please leave a comment below. I’d love to help.
If you find this information interesting, check out other posts I’ve written on similar topics:
what do the lights on my router mean?
can I use a router without a modem?
can i move my wifi router to another house?
what is the wan port for in a router?
does a router affect your wifi speed?