Basically a router is a device that joins multiple networks together. A router typically provides DHCP services to hand out IP addresses and NAT to allow many IPs to appear as one on the internet, Firewalls etc. A standalone AP does not provide these services, but in a hotspot, an AP will most likely still be connected to a router. BTW, you dont need a router to see other computers, a switch or a hub will do the same if the devices are on the same subnet. When you go to a Hotspot, everyone is allocated an IP address on the same subnet. If everyone is using the default network name of say "WorkGroup" and they have Print and File sharing enable then you are one big happy file sharing network. Even if you have a unique network name, packets can be sniffed and a few changes made to the sniffers pc and he is now a part of your network. Many APs now offer a feature called Client Isolation (most every vendor has their own name for it) and it prevents users from seeing other users pcs, although as a hotspot user, you have no idea if it is used. The best thing to do is to have a firewall and to disable Print and file sharing when at a hotspot. Since most hotspots do not use encrytion, it is wise not to check your mail and expose your userid and passwords unless it is on a secure connection. https, vpn etc
Can someone tell me what is the difference between a router and an access point ?? I us a Linksys wireless router at home but dont know the differences.
I know a router can form a LAN enabling 2 or more computers to see each other and share files either with hard wired or wirelessly. Further they can share an Internet connection.
I think an Access point can enable comptuers to share and Internet connection, but will they(the computers0 form a LAN also ??
If so, then in the case of a Public Access point such as an Hotspot, will it not be dangerous or a secuirty risk to bring your own wireleess laptop since other computers on the LAN may be able to see it plus download your files etc ??
Continuing from Airhead's good router/gateway and AP description: some AP's now do have DHCP services. My two DWL-7100AP's have built-in DHCP servers. They are capable of assigning an IP address to everything that connects to it and allow a WLAN to be easily put together, however lack a router's capability to join two networks (i.e., public internet and private WLAN) together without additional hardware or software. The DHCP table allows for both static IP's and a range of dynamic IP's to be set. They lack other features that router/gateways usually have such as port forwarding though. At home, I'm not using their built-in DHCP as my router/gateway is providing all DHCP, along with a program called "ZoneCD" (free Wifi Gateway software) for another subnet, but I have used it for quickly allowing a WLAN to be put together for multiplayer gaming. All I have to do is enable DHCP on the DWL-7100AP, throw it on a table, and everyone connected gets an IP and can talk to one another. I've done this several times as the DWL-7100AP is small enough to be easily carried along with a laptop. Convienent feature, although I don't use it for my network at home. It is great on the road though. My job takes me away from home every couple months and, as everyone I travel withs brings their laptop, we frequently get some multiplayer games going on at the hotels.
Routing/gateway doesn't necessarily have to be through a piece of hardware. It can be done with software as well. I.e., Window's "Internet Connection Sharing" and/or "ZoneCD" can take the place of a hardware router. Both software provide DHCP support. I prefer hardware over software for routing/gateway, as it doesn't require a PC to be powered up for the network to "stay alive" though. I'd prefer to swap the PC running "ZoneCD" out for a piece of hardware, but comparible hardware boxes with the same features tend to be quite expensive. "ZoneCD" is a captive gateway, like you find at many commercial hotspot locations. It allows for "logins" to be required, various internet content filtering, ect. Whenever someone connects and tries to browse an internet site, they are first directed to a local intranet html page.
Interestingly, wireless routers (with built in AP's) seem to be sold for less than stand-alone AP's. My guess is that the manufacturers realize that a wireless router is usually the first 802.11 animal that consumers purchase, so they want to get them "branded" as quickly as possible. Proprietary features (turbo's) provide an incentive to stay with a single brand.
Most wireless routers also can be used as a stand alone router (without using the built in AP) or a stand alone AP (without using the router). To use it as a just a router. just disable the radios. To use it as just an AP, disable the DHCP and plug the feed into one of LAN ports instead of the WAN port.
DHCP server allows almost everything to be settable rather than assuming that the gateway is the IP address of the access point (or router). That means that I can use it at the same time as the DHCP server on the LAN and let the wireless assign IP addresses for the wireless clients.
Duh... What's a "radio wave"?
(at the bottom of list).
Oh yes. Proprietary enhancements, product differentiation, and strange incompatibilities are the mark and trade of most wireless manufactories. However, it's the only way to currently advance the state of the art. It took far too long to hammer out IEEE 802.11g and perform damage control with WPA. WPA2 is still a proposal and 802.11n will take another 18 to 24 months. If manufacturers had to wait for the IEEE we would still be using 802.11b.
The trend is toward selling wireless device as if they were cordless phones, with "extension", "central", and "portable" devices. Access points could be sold as "extensions" but the marketing departments haven't figure that out yet.
Yep. I once needed some routers for an install, so I dived into my pile of old DI-524 wireless routers, disabled the wireless, and created an instant router. When the customer was wondering if the disabled wireless section posed a security risk, I just removed the antennas.
Yeah, thats how I'm setup now. All my wired stuff is in the 192.168.x.y range, while wireless is in 10.10.x.y range. DHCP for the wireless is coming from a box that is just spinning "ZoneCD", which one of the DWL-7100AP's is connected to. I have DHCP disabled for this AP, as "ZoneCD" is providing IP's, but I imagine I could use DHCP from the AP and it disable it on "ZoneCD" with the same results. Never tried it, but see no reason why it shouldn't work just as well.
LOL. Yeah, got a chuckle out of that too the first time I saw it.
I hear ya. Especially with "WDS". Thats more of an "extension" than anything else. After some initial frusteration, finally got the second DWL-7100AP working in both bands with the AP hooked up to the "ZoneCD" box. I really like DLink's "AP Manager" program. Its a windows client program that allows their WDS-capable to be easily configured together cohesively. Just easier to see everything together, versus doing the web/telnet configuring approach. They also support user load balancing, which is pretty cool.