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While manufacturers’ installation utilities have improved over time, getting the most out of your new wireless network usually demands going a step beyond the standard setup method.
It doesn’t imply your network’s performance or security are up to pace just because you’ve connected everything and all the blinking lights have turned green.
How to Setup Router
Follow these simple steps to configure your router and enhance your wireless network correctly.
How Do I Connect My Wi-Fi Router?
These steps are based on the assumption that you’ve already chosen the best router for your home. If you’re still undecided, read our wireless router buying advice (see above), or check out our budget routers roundup, which contains our favourite selections for under $100.
Check out our gaming routers guide if you’re looking for the fastest possible pipe to play video games on. Each participant has passed PC Labs’ wireless router testing suite, and all of these purchasing guides include our best and most recent reviews in each category.
When selecting a router, you should also evaluate if you want a Wi-Fi 6 router, a Wi-Fi mesh system, or both in one. Wi-Fi 6 is a new standard that finally sees an increase in the number of routers that support it. Wi-Fi 6 is the way to go if your current router is more than three years old or if you want the latest in terms of speed and security, but first, read our Wi-Fi 6 explainer for more details.
Wi-Fi mesh systems are for customers ready to pay a bit more for two key benefits: easy setup and complete Wi-Fi coverage throughout their home. While a standard router plus a wireless range extender can improve coverage in your home, that choice requires users to go through a few additional hoops to get things up and running.
Most notably, asking them to log into different wireless networks depending on where they are in the house. Wi-Fi mesh eliminates all of that with a quick and straightforward initial configuration and several compatible “nodes” that seamlessly integrate into a single wireless network that covers your entire home.
Newer Wi-Fi mesh systems, such as the Amazon Eero 6 and Eero Pro 6, combine Wi-Fi 6 with mesh technology in a single package—and, in the case of the latest Euros, Zigbee intelligent home technology as well. However, while Wi-Fi mesh is the most straightforward approach for establishing that basic set of green blinking lights, whether mesh or not, the basic router setup is still reflected.
You’ll need to go beyond your router or mesh system’s essential installation utility if you want to tweak your network settings, such as adding a guest network and parental controls to improve security. Or adding quality of service (QoS) settings to protect traffic coming from a specific application or travelling to a particular device. At such a point, the steps indicated below will come in handy.
Placement and Setup
Consider where you’ll place your router before you begin. Locating an open place in the middle of your home is the simplest way to assure optimal coverage.
Because walls and floors obstruct Wi-Fi transmissions, the more obstructions between your devices and your router, the weaker (and maybe slower) the signal will be.
Keep a safe distance from large metal, glass, brick, or concrete objects. Wi-Fi mesh systems address this issue by allowing you to deploy a well-designed node in areas where coverage is the worst.
Individuals utilizing standard routers or even wireless range extenders, on the other hand, will need patience and experimentation to identify the optimal placement zones.
To get started, connect your router to your modem. For this, you’ll need an Ethernet cable to connect to your router’s WAN (wide-area network) port on the rear.
This port will vary slightly from router to router, but it will nearly always have a different colour and be labelled “WAN,” “Internet,” or something similar.
Connect the WAN port of your modem to the Ethernet port on the back of your modem with the other end of the Ethernet cable. You’ll be able to connect to the internet once you’ve turned on your modem. Then you’ll need to plug your router into a power outlet and turn it on.
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As previously mentioned, most mesh Wi-Fi systems and some of the more modern standard wireless routers may now be managed totally from your smartphone.
Manufacturers will have their setup apps, so make sure you’re downloading the right one by checking the quick-start instructions for your router.
However, not all routers include a mobile app, and if you don’t want to use one, you always have a backup option. The router’s internal settings page is usually accessed via a specific URL address.
To find this URL, connect your computer to any of the router’s LAN ports using an Ethernet cable and type 192.168.1.1 or a similar address (as specified in the router’s manual) into your browser’s search bar.
Also Read: How to Reset a Router to Factory Settings
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The first step in getting your network up and running is to create a login and password. By pushing a recessed button on the router, you can reset the username and password to factory defaults if you have a pre-owned router (usually the back).
Defaults are standard “admin” and “admin,” which every would-be hacker knows, so change them immediately. Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase characters, numbers, and symbols to make your password secure.
How Do you Configure My Router?
After you’ve set the username and password, you may begin configuring your router’s settings. There is no “correct” method to install a router, just as there is no “right” way to cook a meal, and each model is likely to have its own set of steps, depending on its features.
As a result, it would be laborious and fruitless to cover every potential configuration path here. For more information, we recommend reviewing your router’s handbook.
However, we do have a few recommendations:
Make use of the simple setup wizard. Most routers have some quick setup method that only requires the SSID and password. If you’re unsure, start here. (The SSID is the name of your router’s Wi-Fi network.) Out of the box, it might be “Asus” or “Netgear,” but feel free to alter it to something more creative, like “FBI surveillance-van.”
Yes, this program will only bring you as far as the set mentioned above of blinking green lights, but even if you want to go further, you must first get there. The shortest road to that target is to follow the router’s documentation and use its configuration software.
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Use the WPS button to connect Wi-Fi devices. If you’ve ever paired two Bluetooth devices, such as a smartphone and headphones, you already have a basic understanding of how this works. Consider the case below: You want to connect your router to a Windows 10 laptop.
On your laptop, the SSID of your router will display in the list of visible wireless networks in Windows. When you select the SSID and attempt to connect, Windows will prompt you to enter the network security key, which is simply another way of saying the password.
You’ll have entirely forgotten your password if you’ve done your security homework and made one that includes a mix of uppercase and lowercase characters, numbers, and symbols. You won’t want to enter it in again. Instead, press the WPS button on your router.
Allow the router and laptop to discover and pair with one another for at least a minute. WPS is only compatible with Windows and Android devices, so keep that in mind.
Delegate the work to the router if you’re unsure. The “auto” configuration tools are your best buddy. While you could go to the trouble of creating your internal IP address range and manually assigning static addresses to all of your devices, simply checking the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) box in your router’s settings will take care of that for you right away, as this is a protocol that automatically assigns IP addresses to devices.
The lesson here is that just because you can change something doesn’t mean you should. During the setup and early use periods, use the auto settings as much as feasible.
Connect to the 2.4GHz or 5GHz Band?
If all other factors are equal, 5GHz connections will outperform 2.4GHz communications across short distances on client devices. Because of its shorter wavelengths, 5GHz cannot travel as far or transmit through some objects, yet it is faster.
The 2.4GHz spectrum has more congestion and fewer channel possibilities than the 5GHz frequency if you wish to stick with 2.4GHz, fiddle with the channel choice.
If client connections are failing, change the channel to 1 or 11 manually. If client connections are failing, try manually changing the channel to 1 or 11. If you’re having trouble with client connections, try manually setting the channel to 1 or 11. “Auto” usually does a good job of hopping about the channel options and finding the best one, but if you’re having trouble with client connections, try manually setting the channel to 1 or 11.
To avoid interference in the 2.4GHz range, there are 11 channels to choose from, with channel 6 being the default. There is usually some signal overflow when you select a channel. For example, if you choose channel 2, traffic will regularly spill over to channels 1 and 3.
As a result, changing to the extremes of 1 or 11, which are the furthest points away from the default of 6, may occasionally result in the best-performing connections.
Some routers will walk you through a few more steps after the “simple” setup, such as setting up parental controls (features that allow you to limit specific types of content) and updating the router software.
After you’ve followed these procedures, go to “wireless setup” or a similar-named tab/screen to turn on your Wi-Fi network. After you’ve activated your network, you may connect any device to it and start browsing the web.
Taking It To The Next Level
Activating your network and connecting to the internet is just the beginning of what most routers can do. While a tab with a name like “advanced settings” may sound frightening at first glance, the menus found here may frequently be utilized to control some of your router’s most beneficial features. We’ll go over some of the most interesting points below.
Quality of Service (QoS)
As previously said, one of the most valuable elements for online entertainment is Quality of Service (QoS). It lets you choose and prioritize upstream and downstream traffic on your network, which can help your favourite streaming service or online game run faster.
The majority of routers offer a traffic monitoring tab on their app/configuration page. Go here and look for the QoS tab. When you enable QoS, you’ll be able to prioritize particular services like online games and video streaming.
On the network, you can also prioritize devices. Years ago, this was commonly accomplished by providing the device’s unique MAC address and prioritising it.
As shown in the screenshot below for Manual Prioritization, vendors like Netgear progressively provide more accessible graphical alternatives to the same principle.
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QoS options can also show you how your overall bandwidth is distributed among your devices, allowing you to identify users using more than their fair amount.
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Nowadays, the vast bulk of traffic is based on downloads, particularly when it comes to multimedia streaming. Try using QoS to prioritize your streaming services’ traffic if they regularly pause to buffer. Upstream prioritization is only a matter for gamers in general.
A guest network is helpful if you want to keep all of the data and files on your network out of the hands of unauthorised users. To set one up, go to the wifi settings on your router’s app/configuration page.
Most routers have guest networks deactivated by default; thus, there will typically be a page to set one up here. After you confirm the network’s name and password, the web will be set up.
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We strongly advise encrypting your primary Wi-Fi network with at least WPA2, but you may wish to leave your guest network “open” for easy access. While this is convenient, it may increase interactions with neighbours and stray strangers who park on your curb.
Limit guest network access privileges, such as which band they can use or when the network is operational, to a minimum. Limit the guest network to either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz band, but not both.
It can be helpful to see what traffic travels through your network and be able to control that traffic. Go to your router’s advanced settings menu if you’re interested in either of these choices.
Typically, a traffic monitor, traffic meter, or something similar will be available. You’ll be able to monitor the traffic on your router if you enable this feature.
Some routers allow you to control incoming traffic (downloads), outgoing traffic (uploads), or both. Although not all routers have traffic monitoring capabilities, various web services can assist you, such as Solarwinds RTBM or PRTG.
Even a small business might profit immensely from monitoring traffic regularly if you’re setting up a wireless network for it. Traffic monitoring may help with everything from tracking security breaches to ensuring that critical apps (like your phone or video conferencing system) always have enough bandwidth.
Most businesses use a specialized network monitoring tool. If your company’s primary LAN is a wireless network, a dedicated Wi-Fi management tool, such as Ekahau Pro, is your best option.
Internet veterans may recall the days before
When moving large files between PCs, Dropbox required jumping through many hoops with dedicated file-transfer protocol software. Even though FTP programs are no longer frequently used, they can still be a helpful way to send huge files without using web services.
FTP servers can only be accessed by routers having at least one USB port. The first thing you’ll need is a network-connected USB storage device, such as an external hard drive.
Then seek an option labelled USB Storage, USB Options, or anything similar in the advanced settings of the app/configuration page. Once you’re on that screen, check the box for “FTP through the internet” or something like that.
Your USB device will now be accessible to users on your network. Set the read and write permissions to admin-only if you want to be the only one who can access the USB device.
You may be required to set read and write permissions for specified directories by some routers. Click “new folder,” “pick folder,” or something similar to navigate to the relevant folder on your USB device. After selecting the folder, click Apply Changes.
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MAC Address Filtering
Consider a MAC (media access control) address as a universally unique name for any network device. The address is related to the device’s hardware.
Some routers allow you to specify a list of MAC addresses that are allowed (or not allowed) to connect to your network. It’s analogous to blocking or allowing the devices that can connect to your LAN.
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Go to the advanced options page and search for the MAC filter. On dual- or tri-band routers, you may generally specify which band the filter will apply to, and some routers will let you choose whether the entered MAC address will be the only one admitted or the only one refused.
The next step is to locate and fill in the MAC addresses of the devices you wish to filter after you’ve made your choices for those settings.
Go to the About Phone tab in your device’s settings to find your MAC address for mobile devices like phones and tablets. Some smartphones include a Status tab to get the MAC address, while others have it right there in the About Phone section.
Go to your device’s network settings page to access your Mac or PC’s network and sharing centre. Look beneath your Wi-Fi connection for Details or Properties.
This area will display any information, including the “physical address” of your device, which is another term for the MAC address. (On a Mac, it’s called “Wi-Fi Address.”)
At the absolute least, parental control allows you to set time limits when each authorized device (identified by MAC address) can connect to the network.
So, if your child has a bad habit of staying up late on their devices, but you don’t want to be the bad cop that needs to constantly check where and when devices are turned in, no problem.
Start by using MAC address filtering to verify that only authorized devices can connect to your router. Then, using parental controls, make sure that any devices allowed to join can only do so during specific hours.
It only takes a few minutes to set up, and it, like a correctly configured router in general, will eliminate a boatload of problems and make your home run more smoothly.
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Anyone can have an internet connection up and running in minutes by following the fast start instructions on their router, but most models hide lesser-known jewels in their setting’s menus.
If you want to get the most out of your router purchase, take the time to learn about these advanced functions. If you’re still looking for a router, check beyond the product’s spec sheet and the features list on the box.
To understand more about these additional options and evaluate which features will be most beneficial in your situation, download the manual. Once you’re up and running, check your internet speed.
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