I have two different internet providers. One is comcast and the other is a dial up service. Earlier today I got bounced off the internet but chalked it up to my graphics card going wonky since I was doing a lot of graphics switching between several programs very quickly.

I decided to reboot and take a short break. When I tried to get back online, I couldn't. I called Comcast and they tried to "ping" me after having me check some things on my Dell. The Comcast guy said it was a router problem. So I tried to connect using my dialup service. No go so I called them too with the almost exact conversation happening and being told about a router problem.

An hour or so later, both ISP's called me to say that the problem was fixed and that I should be able to get online. So when I did, I tried googling for routers, internet routers, etc. All I really got for my trouble was confused. I read articles about terrorists and how something needs to be done but no real answers or solutions. Can someone please explain this stuff to me? What I really wanted to know was how the routers work and who is responsible for them and where they physically are. How often does it happen that a router won't let people on the internet? How is Big Brother (or the Anti-Christ) involved in all of this? Do viruses and worms affect these routers in a way that affects me?

I know that I have posted this in the wrong place but I didn't know where else to post it since it isn't hardware or software or web developement or coding. But I really want to know.

the idiot poster

Moved to Networking forum :)

Thanks Dani. I had no idea where to put it. I have been reading more stuff and getting even more confused.

Hi Bomba,

Very basically, routers are devices that are used to connect two different networks together; allowing computers on one network to communicate with computers on other networks. Without routers, computers on any given network can normally only communicate with other computers on that network.

It's like dialing telephone numbers- without dialing an area code, you can only connect to other numbers in your local calling area. Think of that local calling area as your local network.

To communicate with people who live outside of your local network, you have to dial an area code (or country code, for that matter) to reach them. When the phone company's system sees that you've included an area code in the number you've dialed, it knows to send your call through a certain piece of equipment which will lead outside of your local network to the specific area where the number you are trying to reach is located. For computer communications, IP addresses are the equivalent of phone numbers, and routers are (one of) the devices used to connect "calls" to their proper destination.

You can find routers in use in many places: ISPs have huge routers in their networks to connect all of their customers to the Internet. Businesses have routers in their networks to connect all of the company computers together, and also to allow those computers to connect to the Internet or other external networks. Small offices or homes with multiple computers will also have small routers in those locations to allow all of their computers to share a single DSL or cable Internet connection. Such home/small office routers, manufactured by companies like Linksys, Netgear, and D-Link, are often called "Broadband Gateway Routers".

As far as reliability goes, routers (like other complex pieces of electronic gear) are prone to freezes, crashes, burps, chokes, whatever-you-want-to-call-them. These problems can definitely cause loss of network connectivity for computers connected to them, but there's no real answer to your question of how often this happens.

Also, because routers are basically small, specialized computers, they are prone to the effects of certain viruses, worms, and other malicious attacks. Bugs and loopholes exist in the software that runs in routers, and those bugs can be, and are, exploited by "hackers". A Denial of Service (DOS) attack is one example of a common type of exploit used to overload and shut down routers.


Is it possible that it was the very same router that affected my service through two different providers? I do live in a city but it is smack dab in the middle of farmland and prairie. The nearest major city (Denver) is like 60 miles away so I would reckon that perhaps both providers would route my request for access to Denver.


Is it possible that it was the very same router that affected my service through two different providers?

Possible? I suppose. Likely? No.

Bomba, what OS (Operationg System) are you using? Win98/XP/Linux/other?