Bridge mode is a networking concept which, to put it simply, means that the router’s NAT mechanism is disabled. If you are here it is because you are wondering whether or not you should use it on your router or Mesh Wi-Fi system.
The answer is very simple: if you are connecting a second router (or a Mesh Wi-Fi system, which are basically multiple routers) to the one you already have, you need to enable Bridge mode on at least one of the routers.
When should you use Bridge mode?
- If you are using a second router on your network
- When you connect a mesh Wi-Fi system (or security router) to your network
It is not a good idea for two routers to try to do network address translation on the same network, as this can lead to issues such as IP address conflicts or, less frequently, performance issues. It’s called Double NAT.
Even if your second router or Mesh system uses a different IP address than your main router (for example, the main one is 192.168.0.1 and the second router is 10.1.74.0), you may experience problems.
Why use Bridge mode?
- Increase Wi-Fi coverage
- Avoid IP address conflicts and performance issues
Besides having two devices doing the same type of work, there are other reasons you’ll want to use Bridge mode.
Say, for example, you’re trying to use a second router to increase Wi-Fi coverage, and both of your routers are compatible with that one. bypass wireless (since no one wants to connect a cable between the two routers).
This means that you’ll be able to connect both wireless and wired devices from a different room than your main router, and all of them will benefit from the Wi-Fi standard that routers use to communicate.
Another reason to use Bridge mode is that devices connected to the two routers can “talk” to each other. For example, if you have a printer or NAS drive connected to the main router using a network cable and the devices connected to the second router will not be able to communicate with those connected to the first, then you will not be able to print or access files.
You can see it in the scenario drawn above.
Without Bridge mode, the two routers broadcast their Wi-Fi networks separately and privately without any crossing. By activating Bridge mode (as shown below) everything will be connected using the same network.
A final reason would be to make sure that all port forwarding works. These days it’s not very common that you need to use port forwarding, but probably if you want to use a local game server or even have a NAS drive with the internet.
If we assume that these devices are connected to a secondary router, it is unlikely that they will work if that second router does its own network address translation or gives out IP addresses.
What are the disadvantages of Bridge mode?
- Some features will not be available
Mesh Wi-Fi systems are the best option for most people, and they achieve almost the same results as using a second router to increase Wi-Fi coverage. When you install them, the app that lifts it up. ‘accompanying will ask you what type of configuration you currently have.
They may recommend turning on Bridge mode, but doing so might turn off other features. If you own a Linksys Velop, for example, Bridge mode disables the most useful features, such as parental controls, device prioritization, MAC address filtering, etc.
The most obvious solution would be to activate Bridge mode on your main router and let the Mesh Wi-Fi system do the rest. But in most cases this is not possible because ISP routers do not have this option.
If this is the case, your only option would be to install a secondary router right next to the one you already have and connect all wired devices to it so that all devices can connect to the additional router.
It is important to note that not all Mesh systems are compatible with Bridge mode. This is the case with Google’s Nest Wifi, whose Bridge mode only works with a single Nest. It doesn’t work if you have multiple wifi points. Google recommends that you put your modem in Bridge mode but, as we said, this may not be possible.
You might also be interested in our pick of the best routers.