Whether you’re moving into a new place and setting up your WiFi, or you switched internet service providers, here are some things that you need to do when you’re setting up your home WiFi network.
Too many times, your internet service provider will come in, set up your internet, and then leave. Usually the router they set up has a unique password already set up so that it’s secure right out of the box, but everything else is set with default settings, which always aren’t optimal.
For instance, you’ll want to change the WiFi password, as well as the type of protection used to secure the WiFi network. More often than not, routers default to using WEP protection, which is easily hackable.
It’s also possible that your router isn’t up to date, even though technically it should be when it’s first set up by your ISP’s technician. However, these are all things that you can easily change in your router’s settings. Here’s how to set up WiFi the right way.
How to Access Your Router’s Settings
Before we get started, everything you’ll want to change and set up needs to be accessed through the router’s admin control panel. Usually the default admin login is printed on the back of the router.
Now, to get to the admin login screen, you’ll want to open up your web browser and type in 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1. This is your router’s IP address. Of course, it depends what router you have. You can check out this list to see which IP address you need to type in.
The next thing you should see is the login screen for your router. Go ahead and type in the admin username and password. Again, this information should be printed on the back of your router. If it’s not, the username is usually admin and the password is either password, admin, or leave it blank.
After that, you’re officially inside the belly of your router and you can begin tinkering with settings. Be aware that changing any settings, like your WiFi password, your network name, etc. will require you to connect to your WiFi network again. So don’t freak out if you see that you’ve been disconnected from your WiFi — you’ll just need to connect to it again and then re-access the admin control panel.
Change the Default SSID & Password
Perhaps the most important thing to do when setting up your home WiFi network is to change the default password that you use to connect to the WiFi. Your ISP will provide a default SSID and password so that it’s secure right from the get go after they set it up, but you’ll want to change it to something that’s a bit easier for you to remember.
It’s also not a bad idea to change the SSID. The SSID is simply the name of your WiFi network. Many ISPs will provide a default SSID like “D35GD” or something ridiculous. You can change it to whatever you want in the admin control panel.
To change these two things, look for a setting called Wireless Settings or something similar. This will vary depending on the brand of your router. From there, there should be text fields where you can change the SSID and password.
Enable WPA2 Protection
Speaking of your WiFi password, it’s a good idea to go ahead and change the level of protection to WPA2. Many ISPs default their router to just WEP protection, but it’s easily hackable and not as secure as WPA2.
To change this setting, it’s most likely located in Advanced Wireless Settings (rather than just Wireless Settings) or something similar. From there, you’ll have the option of selecting WEP, WPA, or WPA2. WPA2 is the most secure, so select that and save your changes.
Change the WiFi Channel
If you want to squeeze out every inch of performance from your router and your WiFi network, then changing the channel that your router operates on can accomplish this quite well.
Channels on routers essentially prevent a cluster of routers from interfering with each other. So if you live in a apartment with many WiFi networks overlapping, many of them may be operating on the same channel, thus they interfere with each other.
What you want to do is choose a channel for your router than not many other routers are operating on. To find out which channels surrounding routers are using, you can download a tool called iStumbler for Mac or NetStumbler for Windows. These tools can show a list of surrounding WiFi networks and what channels they’re on, that way you can choose one that isn’t being used.
To change the channel of your router, it should be in the same section where you changed your SSID and password. If not, it should be in Advanced Wireless Settings or similar.
Optimize Router Placement
You might just put your router someplace convenient and just leave it at that, thinking that there’s always a set radius that the router can achieve to allow devices to connect to it, but where you place your router in your home is crucial.
Walls, doors and corners greatly decrease router signal strength, so try to avoid placing your router near these items in your house. Ideally, wireless devices need to have a direct line of sight with the router for the best signal, but of course that’s not always possible. Instead, it’s best to place your router toward the middle of your house in an open area where signals can breathe and bounce off of walls if need be.
Update Router Firmware
In order for your router to operate at an optimal level, it needs to have the latest firmware. Unfortunately, router manufacturers and ISPs don’t update the firmware like they should, but that’s mostly because they have a plethora of routers sealed up and ready to be shipped out, and it could be months before they’re actually unopened and are put to use. By then, new firmware could be available.
Usually situated in the Advanced section of the admin control panel, updating the firmware is relatively painless, but some routers don’t have the ability to update to newer firmware automatically. Instead, the user has to go to the router brand’s website to download the latest firmware and then upload that file through the admin control panel of the router. Simply just head to the Support & Downloads section of the router brand’s website to find the firmware needed.
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