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|Network Setup||Move Files||Share Internet||Share a Printer||Fixing Problems||Finding Products|
Hardware routers are generally the easiest way to share an Internet connection to a network. Typically, you spend five minutes plugging things in and checking a couple of settings from a web browser, then never touch it again. As long as you still have power and an Internet connection, the router keeps doing its job.
Most hardware routers connect as shown at right, with the hardware router acting as a bridge between the modem and hub or switch. Some routers are also an Ethernet hub or switch, combining both functions into a single unit. Most routers use dynamic network addressing (DHCP) to a create "local" Internet address for each computer. The exact details of setting up a router vary from model to model, so follow the included instructions to be sure your setup is correct.
For a sample hardware router setup and configuration, see the ATPM.com article on Setting up a Hardware Router. The article uses the SMC Barricade router/switch for the example.
Finding a Router
There are many router models out there and prices have fallen significantly over the past few years. Functionally, most routers are very similar, although there is one important feature of note for Mac users. Most routers can upgrade themselves and fix bugs through firmware updates from the manufacturer. Some routers can only upgrade their firmware via PC, so verify that your Mac can ugrade the firmware if you have a Mac-only network. See the Finding Products section for shopping help.
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