October 21, 2011

How to Set Up a Wireless Router

Many people end up frustrated and confused when trying to set up a wireless router themselves. They usually attempt to follow the setup CD or instructions that came with the router and end up giving up or paying someone else to do it for them.

This article will outline the three basic concepts you need to understand to set up a wireless router yourself. I'm going to show you how to do it without using the setup CD that comes with your router and without any of the fancy gadgets or push buttons designed to make setting up a wireless router easy. While these methods may seem easy on the surface they don't always work. They also keep you isolated from any understanding of what is actually going on. If a simple mistake is made you may get stuck and be forced to turn to someone else for help.

Netgear Wireless N Router

netgear wireless n router

Once you understand how to set up a wireless router you'll also understand how to set up just about any wireless device on the market including printers, game consoles, iPads etc.

The three basic concepts you need to understand about wireless routers and wireless networking security are:

1. Your SSID - Service Set Identifier. This is a big sounding word that simply means the name of your wireless network. It's best to change this from the default and give it a name that means something to you but means little to someone else. Something like ILHMAP for "I Love Home Made Apple Pie" is good.

2. Your Encryption Type - You need to understand the hierarchy of wireless encryption. It all started with WEP or Wired Equivalent Privacy. This came standard with most B and G routers. As computer processors speeds increased WEP became easier and easier to crack so a new standard came out call WPA. WPA uses TKIP as it's encryption. Soon after WPA came out WPA2 was introduced. WPA2 uses an even stronger form of encryption called AES. Some older operating systems and game consoles will only work with WEP. When you can you want to use WPA or WPA2. Many times you can choose WPA/WPA2 which allows you to use both types of encryption with the same password. This is a very popular choice when setting up security on a wireless router.

3. Your Pass phrase - This is also known as the password or "encryption key". It's often confused with the router password. The router password is simply the password you use to log into the router. The encryption key is what allows a computer, printer or other network device to connect or "associate" with the wireless router. WEP passwords are generated by typing in a word or phrase. The result is usually scrambled into something like "17B295FcA8". You then have to type these hexidecimal characters into each of your devices. Not very user-friendly. WPA and WPA2 do not generate difficult to remember hex numbers like WEP. You can simply type in 8-63 characters such as "My dog barks 2 loud". In this example spaces count as characters and the "M" in "My" MUST be capitalized.

Now that you understand the basic concepts involved with wireless networking let's put them to use.

All that's really left to do now is access the routers web interface and enter the parameters mentioned above.

In order to access the routers web interface you need to know three things.

1. The routers IP address.
2. The routers user name and password.
3. If you computer is on the same network as the routers IP address.

IP Address

The routers IP address is usually something like, or even The documentation that came with the router should provide this. If you don't have the documentation simply do a search engine search for "router make and model default IP."

Username And Password

The routers username and password is usually along the lines of "admin" and "password". If these don't work simply do a search engine search on "router make and model default password". If it's a second-hand router you may need to hard reset it to get it back to it's default. Hard resetting usually involves poking a paper clip into a tiny hole in the back of the router and holding it for 15 to 30 seconds and releasing. Once you release the router will reboot and return to it's factory default settings and you'll be able to use it's default username and password to log on.

Same Network?

If you computer is on the same network as the routers IP address you'll be able to connect. If not you won't be able to connect. Network devices need to be on the same network to communicate with each other unless they're using a special configured router to join their separate networks. Once you know your routers default IP address simply go your computers command prompt and type in IPCONFIG. This will return your computers IP address.

If the first three "octets" of your routers IP and your computers IP line up your on the same network. If they don't you won't be able to connect.

Let's look at some examples of this:

If your routers default IP address is: and your computer IP address is you won't be able to connect.

A better illustration of this is as follows:

Same network:

Different network:

So if your PC is not on the same network as the router what do you do?

Simply connect one end of an ethernet cable to one of the four ports in the back of you router and the other to the network port in your PC and reboot.

When the computer reboots it will automatically pick up an IP from your routers built-in DHCP server that will allow you to connect to the router.

Now that all the stars are all properly aligned it's time to connect to the router.

To do this simply:

1. Enter your routers IP address into your favorite browser (IE, Chrome, Firefox etc.) and hit "enter".

2. Type in the username and password to access the router.

3. Find the "Wireless" or "Wireless Security" section in your router and enter the SSID, Encryption and Pass phrase parameters as discussed above.

That's it!

Once you're done you simply need to enter the pass phrase you created into the wireless utilities in each of your network devices. This is a simple matter of clicking or tapping on your SSID, entering you pass phrase and clicking on "connect!"

How to Set Up a Wireless Router

netgear wireless n router

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