So you bought a new WiFi router? Now, how do you set it up? The router will come with instructions to get started, but it doesn’t tell you everything you need to set up. Here are six tips to set up a WiFi router the right way.
Change the default password
Most routers will make you change the default password. If yours does not make you, be sure to do it anyway. If it allows you to change the Administrator username, change that too.
Set the SSID
This is the network name when you search for WiFi networks. You can choose anything you want. You can call it something like “Joe’s Network” or you can be more creative. Some of our favorites are “Look Ma No Wires”, “Nacho WiFi” and “Mom, Click Here for the Internet”.
If your router has both 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz networks, we suggest you set both to the same SSID. The device you connect to the network will choose the one with the best connection.
Set a network password
Set a password even if you don’t care about others using your internet connection. If you don’t set the password, anyone within range can snoop in on your network.
Select WPA2 and enter the password you want to use. Don’t use the same password as your other accounts because you might need to give this password to any of your visitors who ask to use your WiFi.
Use the guest network
Some routers allow you to have guest networks. It might be called a guest network in the settings or it might allow you to enter an extra SSID on each frequency. Regardless of what it’s called in the settings, set up a different SSID and give it a different password than the main network.
Obviously, a guest network is designed for your guests and that’s a great use of this extra network. It’s also a great idea for any IoT devices such as gadgets or smart home devices. There is typically an option to disallow intranet access to your guest network. Select this for your guest network. It means that all the devices on the guest network can only access the internet and not the other devices on your intranet. Intranet is another name for your network. This protects all your other devices on your network if one is infected with malware.
Change the channel
Unless you live in the country, there are probably other WiFi routers near you. It’s important to choose the least crowded channel available. If your router does not automatically choose the best channel, you will need to set it. If you have a Mac, there is a built-in utility to check. Select Option, click on the wireless icon and then select Open Network Diagnostics. For Windows, try this WiFi Analyzer. Run the install and click on the Analyze tab. We use this WiFi Analyzer for Android (Unfortunately there is nothing like this for iOS). Just install it and run it. Each of these tools will show you the nearby WiFi networks and what channel they are on. Notice that the graph shows the signal overlapping with other channels. This is just like listening to the radio and hearing other channels bleed over into what you’re trying to listen to. If there’s a less crowded channel, go into your router’s administrator console and change the channel.
Perform an update
Make sure the WiFi router is using the latest firmware. Firmware is another name for the software that’s running on the router. There are usually security updates along with bug fixes that will make the router run smoother. For many routers, there is an alert if an update is available. If not, make sure you find the update option in the settings.