Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Is it worth getting a high-speed router or switch?

I have a Versalink wireless gateway. Model 7500 that my ISP furnishes. With
it, I get 12539 down and 943 KB per second up. Now, is there any real advantage
to adding a high-speed router? Say 100 – 300 Mbs to drive my computers, and
streaming device a ROKU box, or a DVD player and my smart TV? I’m thinking I
can exceed the download/upload speeds that my ISP provided, but will I get
different bandwidth for all of my devices?

In this excerpt from
Answercast #51
, I look at the advantages of adding a high-speed router or
switch to your home network.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

High-speed router

So, typically, it’s probably a good idea to include a high-speed device as
the center of your home network.

But we need to understand, we need to be clear, that it’s not going to speed
up your internet connection. Your internet connection is completely controlled
by your ISP and the devices that your ISP provides. So, ultimately, you’re not
going to improve your ability to upload or download information from the
internet.

That’s just not going to happen. To do that, you would have to contact your
ISP and essentially pay for a faster connection than you are getting today.

In-home connections

Where a high-speed device on your local network really helps is in your own
computer-to-computer communication.

For example, even though I have a 3mbps internet connection here at home, I
actually have a gigabit switch to which all of my machines are connected. Now that
doesn’t improve their internet speed, but when I copy a file from machine A to
machine B, then that file copies significantly faster than it did with my old
100mbps router, or my old 10mbps router.

So in those kinds of situations, it can really be advantageous to have a
higher speed device if you do a lot of inter-machine communication on your own
local network.

Now it really depends on how you do things, how you use things. Sometimes, a lot of people don’t:

  • Each machine is effectively isolated from the other and there isn’t a whole
    lot of inter-machine communication.

  • Each machine is basically just communicating to the internet and that’s
    it.

In that case, a higher speed device won’t help you a lot.

Faster transfers

But if you’re like me at all, chances are you’re probably doing something
where you’re sharing information between machines. In that case, a high-speed
device (like a high-speed router or a high-speed switch) usually is the best
solution for a home network that has been provided a router by your ISP.

That can actually improve the performance of the machines locally – just not
the performance of the internet connection.

Next from Answercast 51- How do
I un-write-protect this
USB thumb drive?

+

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Tech problem solving & safety tips & a weekly confidence boost in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

10 Reasons Your Computer is Slow

Slow Computer?

Speed up with my special report: 10 Reasons Your Computer is Slow, now updated for Windows 10.

NOW: name your own price! You decide how much to pay -- and yes, that means you can get this report completely free if you so choose. Get your copy now!

4 comments on “Is it worth getting a high-speed router or switch?”

  1. Leo
    In this article you have written MB to indicate a million bits per second. I mostly see MB as indicating a million BYTES and Mb to indicate a million BITS. I haven’t checked your other articles to see whether or not you usually follow this convention – but at least in this article the original poster used Mbs and you switched to MB and there would seem to be the possibility of a lack of clarity?

    One of the perils of audio transcriptions. I’ve gone through and corrected it. Thanks for letting me know.

    Leo
    10-Sep-2012
    Reply
  2. I originally wrote he request; However I misspoke where I stated I CAN exceed the speed of my internet connection. It should have read CAN’T exceed the speed of my internet connection.

    Thanks very much for your prompt reply

    Reply
  3. What about if you don’t use equipment from your cable subscriber and you have an old modem and router that you’re using, just a 10/100. Would it speed up the connection if you update the modem and router to a gigabyte?

    Changing your local equipment isn’t likely to make your internet connection any faster.

    Leo
    12-Sep-2012
    Reply
  4. Ron,

    The general rule of thumb is that networks (inter- and intra-) always operate at the speed of the slowest device. Your ISP has already determined the maximum speed of your internet connection. So you can get a faster modem/router, but if it’s faster than the ISP’s pre-determined speed, it won’t work any faster.

    Like Leo said, there’s not much you can do about your internet speed unless you are willing to pay more money to your ISP for a faster connection. Certainly if your old modem is slower than the speed determined by the ISP, then yes, upgrade; otherwise it’s pointless as far as trying to get faster internet.

    Reply

Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.