Connecting Multiple Routers

Introduction

So, you're in need of additional network ports. Congratulations, you're in luck. This tutorial will walk you through using a second (or third, fouth, etc.) router to give you an additional number of ports quite easily. This tutorial uses the term router to mean the typical SOHO (small office/home office) type of multi-port router/switch that is readily available at most retailers.

There are two methods of connecting routers to gain switch ports. The first few steps in both methods are exactly the same, so please excuse the repetition in the walkthrough.

Requirements

Multiple Routers (of course!)
CAT-5 cable
(optional)CAT-5 Crossover Cable
(If you'd like to build the crossover cable yourself see my How to make a crossover cable page.)

Method #1 (without a crossover cable)

Connecting Multiple Routers without a Crossover Cable
Figure 1 - Connecting Multiple Routers without a Crossover Cable

Directly connect to the second router (the router that will only be used for its ports) and access the router's setup utility (whether it be a web-based utility or locally installed software.) Within the router's setup utility, turn OFF DHCP. This is the feature that assigns a LAN IP address for any device connected to the ports. Basically this means you are only going to be using the router as a switch.

Make sure that DCHP is active on the primary router, as this will assign addresses to all the network devices (even those attached to the second router.)

Once DHCP is turned off on the secondary router, connect a standard CAT-5 cable (this is called a straight-through cable) between the two routers by plugging the cable into port 1 on the secondary router, and any of the available ports on the primary router. Since most SOHO routers have four ports, this will allow you to connect an additional two devices than using a single router alone.

Method #2 (with a crossover cable)

Connecting Multiple Routers with a Crossover Cable
Figure 2 - Connecting Multiple Routers with a Crossover Cable

Directly connect to the second router (the router that will only be used for its ports) and access the router's setup utility (whether it be a web-based utility or locally installed software.) Within the router's setup utility, turn OFF DHCP. This is the feature that assigns a LAN IP address for any device connected to the ports. Basically this means you are only going to be using the router as a switch.

Make sure that DCHP is active on the primary router, as this will assign addresses to all the network devices (even those attached to the second router.)

Once DHCP is turned off on the secondary router, connect a CAT-5 crossover cable from an available port on the primary router to the WAN (Uplink) port on the secondary router. Since most SOHO routers have four ports, this gives you an additional three switch ports for connecting network devices than using a single router alone.

Method #3 (with a crossover cable)

Connecting Multiple Routers with a Crossover Cable
Figure 3 - Connecting Multiple Routers with a Crossover Cable #2

Method #2 may only work with a select number of routers. A third option is to use a crossover cable to connect the "switch" segments of the routers. If methods 1 and 2 didn't work, method 3 should as it is probably the most "correct" in regard to connecting similar network devices.

Directly connect to the second router (the router that will only be used for its ports) and access the router's setup utility (whether it be a web-based utility or locally installed software.) Within the router's setup utility, turn OFF DHCP. This is the feature that assigns a LAN IP address for any device connected to the ports. Basically this means you are only going to be using the router as a switch.

Make sure that DCHP is active on the primary router, as this will assign addresses to all the network devices (even those attached to the second router.)

Once DHCP is turned off on the secondary router, connect a CAT-5 crossover cable from an available port on the primary router to the a switch port on the secondary router. Since most SOHO routers have four ports, this gives you an additional two switch ports for connecting network devices than using a single router alone.