What’s the Difference Between “Access Point” and “Repeater” Modes on Routers?

If you’ve purchased a router recently and poked around inside of its settings, you may have noticed that you can set it to one of two different modes: “Access Point” and “Repeater.” These are both very useful features of modern-day routers and can fill a niche to help enhance your networking setup. The only questions are what does each one do, and when are they used?

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To start, it’s important to know where these features come into play. If you have a setup where everyone can happily connect to a router without any issues, you may not need to use these options whatsoever. Turning a router into an access point or repeater is mainly for when you want a “middle man” method to connect to a network.

For example, you may not be able to connect your WiFi to Router A due to distance or obstacles in the way, so you want to put Router B between your computer and Router A and have it “pass along” your WiFi signal. Both of these features can be used to achieve this.

How does each one differ?

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Access Point mode is when you want to connect the router up to an Internet source via cable. This differs from the default method of connecting to the Internet; while the default method plugs directly into the Internet, using Access Point mode allows you to connect it via cable to, perhaps, another router.

Using Access Point mode is ideal if you want to extend the WiFi range, but the router you’re using to extend it isn’t too far away from the main central router. The cable will ensure you get the best possible speeds between the access point and the central hub, and you don’t have to worry about anything interfering with a WiFi signal.

This is a great choice if you want to extend your home connection past something like a solid wall that’s blocking WiFi connections. Simply connect the router to the central hub, place it on the other side of the wall, and put it in access point mode.

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Repeater mode is not too much different; it performs the same role as Access Point mode, but the key is that it talks over WiFi instead. As such, this doesn’t get around obstacles as well as an access point does. While an access point can be put in front of an obstacle, a repeater will need to be angled around it. However, the benefit of repeaters is that they don’t need a cable to connect to the central hub.

This means if the problem with your WiFi is purely tied to distance, a repeater can be placed at the halfway point to help extend your signal. If you’re signed up to an ISP that allows you access to a public-broadcast WiFi signal, you can use a router in repeater mode to pick up the signal and beam it to your household. This is particularly useful if your Internet goes down for some reason!

Which one is best for you? If you want to place the router quite close to the central hub and care about having optimum speeds, it’s best to go with the access point mode and connect the two routers via an ethernet cable. If it’s difficult to get a cable between the two routers, and you’re trying to bridge quite a long distance, repeaters will be less of a hassle to set up.

While “Access Point” and “Repeater” modes try to achieve the same goal, they do so using different methods. Each one has its benefits and drawbacks and should be considered if you’re using a router to extend a WiFi signal.

Have you put either of these to use in the past? Let us know below!

Image Credit: Cisco Linksys E4200 Wireless Router

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