Modem vs. Router: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to setting up your home network, you’re going to need both a modem and a router. These two devices are similar in some ways, but there are also some significant differences.

While it’s true that you can use one device to do the job of the other, having both available to you offers some benefits that aren’t available if you only have one of them set up in your home network. This article will discuss what a modem vs. router are, why they’re essential, and how they differ in features and functionality.

What is a Modem?

A modem is a device that connects your computer to the internet. It allows you to access the internet, send and receive emails, and browse the web. A modem is typically provided by your ISP (internet service provider).

Some people purchase their modems because they are more expensive and may have better speeds than what the ISP provides. You can also buy wireless modems for convenience if you don’t want to use an Ethernet cable.

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  • In the market for a new modem? Check out the features offered by different models before making your purchase.
  • Some modems include Wi-Fi capabilities, while others offer security features like firewalls and anti-virus protection.
  • Depending on your needs, you may want to consider a model that offers parental controls or one with a large storage capacity.
  • Whatever your needs, research the different modem features available before buying.


  • Connects to an ISP.
  • Compatible specifically with the ISP.
  • Converts the signal from the ISP to a universal one that a computer can use.


  • Can’t create a local network.
  • Doesn’t run Wi-Fi.
  • Doesn’t connect multiple devices to the intern

What is a Router?

A router is a hardware device that connects your computer to the internet. It allows multiple devices to connect to the internet simultaneously and provides security features to keep your data safe. A router typically has four Ethernet ports, which you can use to connect devices to the internet.


The router is the centerpiece of your home network. It is the device that connects all of your devices to the internet and allows them to communicate with each other. But not all routers are created equal. Some routers have features that make them better suited for specific applications than others.

Here are some of the most common router features and what they are used for:

  • VPN: A virtual private network (VPN) allows you to connect your devices to a secure network over the internet. This can be useful for accessing sensitive data or streaming content from abroad.
  • A network-attached storage (NAS) device is a great way to store your media files so all your devices can access them. A NAS can also act as a server, allowing you to share files and folders with other users on your network.


  • Creates a local area network (LAN).
  • Splits an internet connection to several devices.
  • Hosts Wi-Fi.
  • Runs a firewall.
  • Connects to a VPN.


  • Can’t connect directly to the internet.
  • Doesn’t decode the signal from an ISP.

Difference Between a Modem and a Router

  • A modem is a device that connects your computer to the internet. A router is a device that helps direct traffic between devices on your home network.
  • Both are essential for connecting to the internet but serve different purposes. For example, when you connect to the internet from your laptop with WiFi, the WiFi signal likely travels through a router before reaching your laptop.
  • WiFi signals don’t travel very far from their source before disappearing.
  • In contrast, Ethernet cables can carry much more data than WiFi and can be up to 100 meters long or more! So if you’re using an Ethernet cable to connect to the internet from your desktop computer, there would be no need for a router. But if you want WiFi on your desktop (or any other mobile device), then a modem and a router would be needed.
  • A modem typically plugs into one of your outlets. In contrast, a router typically plugs into an outlet in addition to being connected wirelessly by ethernet cable to an additional location such as in another room or outside near where you have satellite service.
  • The modem converts information from analog to digital so it can be transmitted over telephone lines. The router takes information received over the internet. It directs it back to various destinations on your home network, including devices like laptops, smartphones, gaming consoles, smart TVs, tablets, printers, and more. It also protects your personal information by keeping outsiders off of your network.

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How do modems work?

A modem is a device that connects your computer to the internet. It does this by translating the digital data your computer sends into analog signals that can travel over the phone. The modem then translates the analog signals into digital data that your computer can understand.

Pros of using a modem

  1. A modem is typically cheaper than a router, and it’s easy to find one that meets your needs. If you only have one computer, you won’t need a router.
  2. A modem is also easier to set up than a router. And, if you have an older computer, you may not be able to use a router.
  3. Finally, if you’re only using the internet for basic tasks like browsing the web or checking email, you won’t need the extra features that a router offers.

How do routers work?

A router is a device that connects your computer to the internet. It does this by sending data through the air using radio waves. Routers also have built-in security features that protect your network from outside attacks.

When you connect to the internet, your router will assign you an IP address. This is how websites know where to send data when you request it. Routers can also be used to create a local network. This is helpful if you want to share files or printers with other devices on your home or office network.

Pros of using a router

  1. A router can connect multiple devices to the internet simultaneously, whereas a modem can only support one connection.
  2. A router offers more security features than a modem, so your data is better protected from hackers.
  3. A router can be used to create a home network so that you can share files and printers with other devices on the same network.

Common uses for each

A modem is used to connect to an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to gain access to the internet. A router is used to create a local area network (LAN), which allows devices to connect without the need for an ISP.

Comparison Chart Between Modem and Router

Modem Router
Brings Internet to your home Brings Internet to your devices
Has public IP address Assigns local IP addresses
Uses a WAN network Creates a LAN network


A modem is a device that connects your home or office to the internet, while a router is a device that allows multiple devices to connect to the internet. Both are essential for getting online, but they serve different purposes. If you’re having trouble connecting to the internet, make sure you have a modem and router.