How to Connect the Router - dummies

By Dan Gookin

Though it be a technical beast, a router isn’t difficult to set up. In fact, after it’s set up, you rarely, if ever, have to reconfigure or mess with the router. It’s a solid little gizmo.

On the hardware side, the router features connections on the rear. Refer to the directions that came with the router for specifics on how things are set up, but generally the Ethernet cables from your PCs hook into the LAN connectors. A single connector is designated for the broadband modem, which also plugs into the router by using an Ethernet cable.


Some routers have On-Off switches, but mostly you just plug the thing into the wall socket to turn it on. There’s no need to turn off the router unless you’re troubleshooting the network or you plan on not using the network for an extended period; most folks leave their broadband modems and routers on all the time.

One important item to find on the router is its reset switch. It’s probably located on the back of the router. The reset switch is most likely recessed.

The front of the router is less interesting than the back. The front features a few lamps that flicker as traffic flows into and out of the router, plus perhaps a status light or three.

  • You must properly plug the modem’s cable into the router. Only connect the modem into the plug designated for the modem or for the Internet (not any of the Ethernet plugs). The modem plugs into the Internet or Modem jack on the router. Sometimes the jack is labeled WAN, for wide-area network.

  • Wireless routers have similar connectors to the wired router with the addition of one or more antennas.

  • Not all routers feature the same configuration for their connections. Some lack USB connectors. That’s okay: You can connect a printer or hard drive to the router by using an Ethernet cable.