Installing a Wireless Router
If you have several home or small office computers and want them to share one Internet connection, installing a wireless router is the best solution. Even if you have only one computer and don't see any need for a network, there are still good reasons for installing a wireless router. But you have to do it right or you may end up exposed to identity thieves, computer hijackers, and other online predators...
How to Install a Wireless Router
A wireless router makes sense for a one-computer home or office because desktop computers are not the only devices that connect to each other. You might have a laptop, or a visitor with a laptop, who needs an Internet connection. Portable devices such as smartphones, iPods, iPads, and ebook readers can all use a wireless router for Internet connectivity.
Also, your computer probably needs to connect to a printer, at least; a printer is a "node" on a network just as much as a PC or Mac is. Photocopiers, fax machines, and other office devices can also be parts of a network. Positioning devices and moving them around is much easier when they are connected wirelessly.
You may already have a wireless router, and not be aware. If you have high-speed internet (DSL, cable, or fiber) chances are your ISP provided you with a wireless router. If there's a box with lots of blinking lights and cables plugged in, and it has an antenna, (see photo) you've got a wireless router. If not, you can buy a "Wireless N Router" at most any electronics or office store. Netgear, Linksys, D-Link and Belkin all make good products in the $50 range. See my related article Wireless N Routers for more info.
When you install a wireless router, it is configured by default to allow everything connected to it to communicate with everything else fully. That's dangerous when a router is connected to the Internet where all the viruses, Trojans, war-drivers, and other bad guys lurk. Installing a wireless router without changing its default configuration is like building a house, moving all your stuff into it, and leaving the front door wide open.
Here's How To Install a Wireless Router Safely:
- Connect your router's Ethernet port (often labeled "Internet" or "WLAN") to your Internet access modem (generally, a DSL or cable modem).
- Power up the router and wait for it to connect to the Internet. Lights on the router will blink rapidly, then settle into a steady pattern that indicates the router is connected.
- Connect your computer to the router with an Ethernet cable. The cable plugs into the Ethernet port on your computer and an identical port on the router. The ports on the router may be labeled "PC", "LAN" or may be labeled with a number such as 1, 2, 3, etc. Generally it doesn't matter which port you choose.
- The router and computer will "shake hands" and connect. Now you can use your computer's browser to configure the router securely.
- The router has a mini web server built into it through which you can configure the router's settings. Consult the router's user manual for the router's IP address and enter it into your browser's address bar. A web page will appear, asking you for the administrator's username and password. The default username and password are in your router's manual.
- The administrator's username and password are the first things to change once you are logged in as an administrator. Default administrator credentials for the most popular routers are well known among hackers, and with that info they can do just about anything they wish on your network. So change the username and password to something hard to guess.
- Encryption is disabled by default on most routers. Enable the strongest encryption that's available on your router (i.e., WEP, WPA, WPA2). When you enable encryption you will also set up one or more "keys" or passwords that can be used by other devices to log onto the network. Outsiders who don't know the keys may try to guess them, so make the keys long and complex. Keep the keys as safe as your house keys!
- Finally, take note of the router's SSID in the wireless settings. Even better, change it to something that makes sense to you. You'll need that SSID in order to make a wireless connection.
Once you've verified that you can connect to the router with a wired connection, it's time to try a wireless (wifi) connection. If you have a device with wifi capability (a laptop, iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone or other smartphone, Kindle, Nook, etc.) go to the Settings page on the device and make sure the Wireless option is turned on. A list of nearby wireless routers should appear. If there is more than one in the list, look for your SSID select it, and enter your wifi key/password. If all goes well, your device will be connected to the Internet. You can open a web browser or email program to test the connection.
There's no reason your desktop PC or Mac can't connect wirelessly, too. The only catch is that most desktops don't have a wifi adapter. But they are cheap (under $20) and plug right into the USB port. If you have a printer that can connect wirelessly, you can really cut down on cable clutter. You might even decide to put the printer in another room.
How do YOU use your wireless router? Post your comment or question below…
Posted by Bob Rankin on 30 Mar 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Installing a Wireless Router (Posted: 30 Mar 2011)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved