Reader Peter wrote me about his cable Internet access:
Well, I finally made the jump to cable broadband (after some very good help from all you people). Everything works great, and I’ll never go back to dial-up. I do have one question, though.
After I turn off the computer for the night, should I also turn off the power to the modem and to the router? I’ve had them for almost a week now and haven’t turned them off. On the same note, should they be turned off if I’m gone for an extended period of time, say a weekend or a whole week?
I wrote back to Peter to tell him that I don’t ever turn my router off — even if I go on vacation. However, I’ll usually turn my computers off then.
When you turn off your cable modem, it will have to re-sync with the cable system when it’s turned on again. That’s an extra delay, sometimes 5-10 minutes, before you can do anything.
Also, depending on how "dynamically" your cable ISP assigns IP addresses, you may find yours changes more often. My cable ISP uses DHCP, but I haven’t gotten a different address in several years — despite the "24 hour lease."” My router automatically requests a new lease when the old one expires. IF it was turned off when the lease expired, someone else would probably get it.
The DHCP IP request process includes the info from router to DHCP server "I’ve been using this IP address, please give it to me again if its available."
Now, why do you turn your computer off every night? One of the great advantages to broadband is the "instant on" aspect. If you have to wait for the computer to boot, you don’t get that.
There’s another option, if your cable modem supports it. Mine (a Motorola SB5100) has a disconnect button on the top. All I have to do is to press the button and the modem blocks all inbound and outbound communications. Press it again, and the modem is connected and working again. Significantly, it does not have to re-synchronize with the cable system — it works immediately.
The other alternative is easy and doesn’t require a disconnect button. Just disconnect the Ethernet or USB cable from the router. Then, when you’re ready to connect again, you can easily connect it again.