Setting Up a Wireless Router

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A wireless router is the backbone of any solid home networking setup. From built-in security to traffic-routing settings, there’s a lot to think about when you’re hooking one up for the first time. Gathered from long experience, here are some recommendations for setting up a new wireless router.

1. Change the passwords. What good is security if your wireless network’s password is admin? Or if it’s the same as the network’s name? Or if you haven’t password-protected your network at all?

There are two critical passwords you need to set up on any new wireless router. The first is the password to access the router’s configuration screen, which, by default, is typically either blank or some variation of “admin.” If someone gets into your network, they’re a hop, skip, and a jump away from your router’s internal configuration. Don’t let that happen.

The second password restricts network access. When you set up your wireless network, use either WEP or WPA security to lock it down. WPA is preferred because it’s harder to hack. If you select WPA, pick a nice, long, but easy-to-remember password.

2. Set up both bands of your dual-band router. Once you go dual-band you’ll never go back. I use the D-Link DIR-825 dual-band router, which lets me set up separate networks using 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. (I explained the difference between 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands in a previous post.)

I segregated my 2.4GHz network by configuring it to support only 802.11b and 802.11g devices . Its name is “Guest Wi-Fi,” so I can tell it apart from the 5GHz network.

Meanwhile, I set up the 5GHz network for Wireless-N only. Slower devices can’t connect, and the fact that it’s running on the 5GHz band means I’ll suffer less interference from other wireless networks around my apartment. I call this network “The Fast Lane.”

3. Reserve IP addresses. Between providing Wi-Fi to guests and my constant need to connect all sorts of devices, my router hands out IP addresses left and right. This can be a hassle when I encounter applications that require a specific IP address to connect to a specific device — an FTP program, for example, or a web server suite or remote connection software.

Fortunately, my D-Link router allows me to assign IP address to specific devices, such as my desktop PC, by clicking a button within the window labeled "Number of Dynamic DHCP Clients" in the router’s network settings. In this case, I'll always know that is the internal IP address of my desktop PC. If I'm setting up a remote-control application on my phone or trying to view my desktop's screen on my laptop in the living room, I don't have to fuss around in my router's network settings to find the random IP address it would otherwise have assigned to the PC.

A typical wireless router has plenty of other settings ripe for the tweaking. But the three steps outlined here are the quickest way I’ve found to configure a wireless router for secure, trouble-free home networking.

This story, "Setting Up a Wireless Router" was originally published by BrandPost.

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