A router is the only way your device can connect with your provider, and your house can be bestowed with the blessings of the internet. With that said, precisely how many devices can your router handle?
Your router can theoretically support up to 255 devices. However, routers tend to slow down after 20-30 devices due to signal interference and bandwidth limitations.
In this article, we’re going to cover exactly how many devices a router can handle alongside some details on why it happens in the first place.
How Many Devices Can You Connect to Your Router?
The theoretical limit of how many devices you can connect to your router is 255. This is because your router’s internal IP address offers 255 different addresses, which start from 192.168.1.0 and go up to 192.168.1.255.
But, on an internal network, the router needs an IP address too. So, the number is decreased by 1. Practically speaking, though, you can connect about 30-50 devices on a generic router. And that too is dependent on what type of router you have.
For instance, if you have a typical 2.4 GHz router with a maximum transfer rate of about 150-300 Mbps, you’ll feel significant bottlenecks after you go over 15-20 devices simply because there isn’t enough bandwidth for every device.
With more modern network standards, such as Wi-Fi 6, we can get much more bandwidth than before. With Gigabit Wi-Fi speeds now possible, we can theoretically get about 200-220 devices connected on the same router with no mesh network and have them operate at reasonable speeds.
If you have a generic Wi-Fi router that supports up to 150 Mbps, connecting 250 devices would give each device an overall shared bandwidth of 0.6 Mbps. This definitely isn’t enough for modern connections!
Even enterprise solutions offered by Linksys do not offer routers that can exceed over 100-110 devices. This is because there are a lot of limitations that come when one router has to deal with so many devices.
For instance, a router, in the end, is a computer that routes information (in the form of packets) from and to the device that requests and sends it. When dealing with such a large number of devices, there is a much higher chance of error.
Moreover, when dealing with such a small density, for instance, a crowd gathered in a stadium. All these devices asking for data at once from a router can cause a lot of interference. This interference can lead to slowed speeds or your packets being dropped mid-reception.
So, even if 200 devices can theoretically connect to a particular router, they won’t have the capacity or the ability to access the internet. Thereby, they’ll be rendered useless.
Increasing the Limit Using Mesh Networks
A mesh network consists of a series of routers connected with an individual router acting as a node. Theoretically, even these nodes can’t allow for a large number of devices since they are connected over the same IP.
To alleviate this issue and to cater to a broader audience, you’d need to set up multiple access points, each with the capability of supporting 200-250 devices scattered across from each other on different channels. The channels need to be different so that they do not cause interference.
But, you’d also need to ensure that they’re relatively low power, so they do not interfere with one another but can still provide adequate signal strength to the high density of devices using them. Moreover, the bandwidth would need to be sufficient for the Wi-Fi network to provide reasonable speeds to everyone in the first place.
IPv6 Networks: Will They Make a Difference?
IPv6 allows for a more significant number of addresses and is a newer protocol. However, it still is not used for home networks. Once it is, though, we can expect singular routers to allow for larger address spaces to be allotted for internal devices.
However, until that happens, we’re stuck with the limitations that IPv4 has.
How Do You Find Out If Your Router Is Connected to Too Many Devices?
The biggest telltale of your router overloading is slowed internet speeds and your internet randomly dropping off. Yes, we get it; this is quite a generic problem and might be due to many reasons.
But, if you know that you have multiple devices connected to the router and are experiencing slowdowns, there’s a possible chance that your router is to blame. The obvious fix would be to disconnect some devices from your router.
If that isn’t possible, we suggest switching to a Wi-Fi 6 router that can support more devices and has more bandwidth. If you already are on one, you’ll need to switch to a mesh network to accommodate more devices.
Generally, routers start experiencing slowdowns after 20-25 devices are connected to them and are using the internet simultaneously.
Your router remains an essential part of your networking solution. However, there’s only so much it can take. Therefore, ensure you have the optimal device router to get the best out of both.