I need some tiny tech support

Long story short I find myself at the helm of the household technology, though ill suited to the job. Hubs was the one, all this time, alas not so much now. And I’m struggling.

I’ve pressed on and managed a couple of minor victories, but now I’m confused and could use some advice. I think I know what’s happening but I’m unsure.

We had our internet connection with one company and our tv with another, (they installed their own router for their box). I am making the switch to a box that connects to our existing internet connection.

So I simply plugged in the Ethernet cable to the new box and to the existing router. The box worked just fine. When I tried to use my desktop to print something it didn’t have a connection. I was mystified. I didn’t remove any connections and I couldn’t find an existing Ethernet connection to my desktop computer. I was more confused.

Eventually I unplugged the tv box from that router and then my desktop had no problem with a connection. I was so confused, ugh!

I thought about it a long time and thought maybe it has a wireless connection to the computer, which I think I remember something about, it was ages ago when this was set up.

So….is it the case that the router can’t be wireless and Ethernet at the same time? And am I wrong or might I be able to fix this by connecting the desktop via Ethernet cable? Like, could it be that easy? I say easy, it hurt my head all afternoon trying to figure out what’s what! Pretty sure it’s easy peasy for y’all!

Unless you have a really weird router, it should support both wired and wireless connections at the same time.

Your router probably has one ethernet port labeled WAN or Internet, then a few other ports with numbers, like 1-4. Make sure you plugged the cable for the new TV box into one of the numbered ports. The WAN/Internet port is for the incoming line from your modem. If you don’t have a WAN/Internet port, don’t worry, it probably means you have a combined modem and router.

Assuming you have the cable plugged into the right port, then you can either hard-wire your desktop using one of the empty numbered ports, or attempt to reconnect the wifi.

Let me know how this works out. If you’re still stuck, maybe post a picture of the back of your router.

When you say that:

do you mean that you were again able to print? Were you also able to get to the internet?

I think that @TroutMan showed a good place to start. If you accidentally plugged the TV box into the WAN port on the router, things could act really strange.

I didn’t try to print, but it was definitely online, it got mail. I’ll definitely look closer at the back of the router.

I plugged the tv box back in so hubs could watch something.

Thanks for the tips. Greatly appreciated.

Is the printer wireless?

Does your PC have a connection to the internet (seems so)?

Is your PC wireless (to the internet)?

What about your TV or other wireless devices? Are they working?

My (semi technical) guess would be that the two routers are on different sub nets.

The laptop picks up the one network, but its router has no knowledge of the printer’s IP on the other network so cannot resolve the request.

(There are no longer two routers, and no laptop, sorry for not being more clear.)

And, I think my desktop router IS indeed a router/modem combo AND it’s connection to my desktop computer IS wireless.

The connections on the back are, dsl, then four Ethernet ports. Which are labelled: LAN4, LAN3, LAN2, LAN1. Beneath the #1, in small letters GE, (or maybe CE?) I currently have the tvbox plugged into port 3, and it works.

I currently just checked, to see what’s working AND it’s suddenly all working! WT…??? I have no explanation. But desktop is online getting mail and printing. The tvbox works, is online and the Ethernet cable IS plugged in.

This is why tech makes my head hurt, I’m delighted it’s working but I’ve no idea why. I paid no mind to which Ethernet port I was using when plugging and unplugging the tv box, to see what worked and again so hubs could watch something last night.

Perhaps I just lucked into the right port by chance the last time? Or it has somehow self healed? Tech stuff makes my head want to explode when I’m frustrated, but I’m left completely confused when I somehow stumble into getting it right. It doesn’t feel like I learned anything, but I’m enormously relieved it works again!

I’m going to make an offering to the tech gods and count my blessings. My friend at the straight dope, among them.

I thank you all very much for you patience and your input.

Glad it’s all working. In situations like this, often the best thing to do is back away slowly, don’t touch anything, and don’t ask too many questions.

This would be my guess as well. If you plugged into the dsl/wan port, it may have totally confused the router.

As @TroutMan said, if it’s working, don’t eff with it.

Rest assured I have taken note of how it’s all currently linked up, and will NOT be messing with it again, any time soon!

(Our lives are undergoing a lot of change currently, a lot of balls in the air, a fair amount of chaos and some unsettling unknowns. Having to manage our tech is just one more thing. Every small victory is huge at this point!)

Thanks so much, to you all for lending an ear, and the advice to help me through.

Networking 101 course: the home network and router is a complex setup masquerading as something simple. For everything I say below, yes - there are exception and complexities beyond that.

The internet runs on IP Addresses. However, thanks to the foresight of people back when computers were expensive installations, they only allowed for a few billion using the original IP4 technology, which is slowly being updated to IP6. That’s not enough for a world full of PCs, printers, Ring doorbells, iPhones, smart TV’s, and Nest thermostats.

As a result, home network routers get a single world-wide (public) address; they act as a firewall - they create an internal network of IP addresses that don’t go out onto the internet, and anything that does, uses the one public address of the router. The router is the default gateway for outbound traffic.

So the router has a WAN port (WAN=Wide Area Network) that asks the rest of the world for its address, Then, inside the home network, on its LAN ports (Local Area Network) or Wifi, it is the master handing out the addresses (“DHCP Server”). As a consequence, the router must have a fixed address on the LAN; there are a few IP addresses that are designated for this purpose. These address ranges are reserved for home networks only. (typically 192.168.x.x or 10.x.x.x where X can be 0 to 255)

When a device is plugged into a network, except for a special few devices, it asks for an address. Process is called DHCP, the device broadcasts a request and a receives a reply “use this address”. It can use that address “lease” for a specific time - maybe 8 days - then renews it to be sure it is still on the right network. It also renews its address request if the network connection goes down. (Power out, unplugged for a moment, etc.) All the devices can talk to each other on the same LAN.

Side note - DHCP uses “broadcast” to obtain an address. The router stops broadcasts from going to the rest of the world, keeps them local to avoid flooding the internet. But… devices like printers will also use broadcasts to identify themselves; so you need to be on the same LAN as your printer (usually). Broadcasts is also how one PC finds another to share files.

Several things can go wrong:
The WAN port cannot be part of the LAN setup. Only plug that port into an outside connection to the internet. (Hence, sometimes, it is designated by a globe symbol). A computer on that port will not get an IP address.

You can plug one router into the other, using the WAN port of one into the LAN port of the other, to get cascading networks. But now you have two different LANs that may or may not have the same address range (its debatable which is worse) - so will have problems communicating between them, and cannot broadcast between them. So a PC on one LAN (wired or wifi) will not be able to broadcast to a printer on the other LAN and cannot find it. And odds are they are on different IP ranges and wouldn’t “hear” the broadcasts anyway. (And unless you powered them off-on, the devices on wi-fi never lost their connection, keep their IP addresses). They may even have the same LAN IP address range, and so the one router will get confused, since a router should not (cannot) have the same range on LAN and WAN.

Worse, you somehow connect to routers on the same LAN physical wiring. (I.e. plug LAN-to-LAN, or use the same Wifi name) Now there are possibly two address ranges, two DHCP servers, and it’s random which address range a device gets when it’s started up. And probably, one of those routers has no valid WAN connection, so devices with its IP address range and thinking it is the default gateway will send data to it, and that will never get to the internet.

Also - devices only ask for a new IP when they lose connection. If you have an “ethernet switch” to extend your LAN, and plug it from one router into the other without losing power, the devices will not realize they are on a different LAN and not ask for a new different, compatible IP address.