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Setting Up a Home Network - Wireless Settings and Security

written by: Jesma•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 6/11/2009

Getting into the configuration settings on your home wireless router can be challenging enough, but then to actually set it all up yourself? This article should help even a beginner to navigate their home wireless router's settings in order to create a simple, secure, wireless network.

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    Accessing your Wireless Router Settings

    The security options for your wireless network are setup on your wireless router. The specific settings vary by brand, but there are a few principles that can help you be secure no matter what brand of device you are using. However, nothing I say can replace the valuable and concise information found in the product's manual, which I highly recommend you read.

    Most wireless routers will come with a CD-ROM detailing the steps in this section, and providing a simple way for you to configure some settings. Follow these steps in the event that you lose your disk, or for some reason it isn't working correctly.

    When you first plug in your wireless router it will not broadcast a wireless signal. Even if the box says "one button configuration" or something to that effect, don't do it. If you want to be secure, you must go into the configuration and choose settings yourself. Using a standard CAT5 Ethernet cable, like the one that probably came with your router, connect your cable or DSL modem to the 'Internet' port on your wireless router. Then, using another cable, connect your wireless router to your computer using any of the other available ports. You will probably have to reboot your cable modem, simply by unplugging its power source for a few seconds.

    On the bottom of your wireless router should be a Default IP and Default Username and Password. If this information is not on the bottom, then you can probably find it in the owners manual. Open a web browser on your computer and type in the router's default IP. This will bring up a login prompt. Enter the default username and password. This gives you access to the router's configuration settings. Make sure that you change the login password right away, or else any other setting you adjust will be in vain.

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    Wireless Modes

    When looking at wireless devices you will notice that they have a series of numbers and letters on them. These should not be ignored. 802.11 is a technology standard that defines rules for wireless transmission, and the letter that follows it, a, b, g, or n, is the specific technology in use. Some devices support multiple standards, and some just one. G is currently the most popular wireless standard, expressed as 802.11g. Regardless of which standard you choose, all your devices need to be compatible with the standard.

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    Wireless Encryption

    Most wireless devices are compatible with the WEP, WPA, and WPA2 encryption methods. WEP is the easiest encryption to crack. WPA2 is the most difficult. Older devices (3-5 years) may not be compatible with WPA, and likely not with WPA2. Regardless of the encryption type you choose, you need to ensure that all of your devices are compatible with it.

    Once you have setup encryption on your wireless router, you need to set up your computer's receiver to recognize the signal. Windows will detect the wireless network in range and provide you with a wizard to configure the device with. You will need to have written down or remembered your encryption key, be it a password or a generated series of numbers or letters. Refer to your owner's manual for detailed instructions.

Home Networking Made Easy

Most computer users have heard the term "Home Network" but aren't quite sure what it is, or they are under the false impression that it is a complex technology that they will never be able to grasp, let alone implement. This guide simplifies the technology and makes it possible for anyone to use.
  1. Introduction to Setting Up Your Own Home Network
  2. Setting Up a Home Network - Simple Wireless
  3. Setting Up a Home Network - Wireless Settings and Security
  4. Setting Up a Home Network - Understanding the Technology
  5. Setting Up a Home Network - Putting it All Together