Wi-Fi Routers and How to Set Up Wi-Fi

So, we've told you a bit about how Wi-Fi works and how to connect your device to Wi-Fi.  But how do you get a Wi-Fi network going in the first place?  For that, you'll need a Wi-Fi router.  This lesson will teach you about Wi-Fi routers, how they work, and how you can set one up in your home.

What is a Wi-Fi router?

A Wi-Fi router is a special device that wirelessly directs information from your computer to the correct point on another computer or the Internet.  In addition, it also serves as an access point for different computers to connect to the Internet in the same approximate location, all without using cables.

How does a Wi-Fi router work?

A Wi-Fi router works by translating data from the Internet into a series of radio waves, which it then broadcasts to nearby computers that can pick up these signals.  It can also perform this process in reverse, picking up radio waves sent by computers and translating them into data to send to the Internet.

How to set up a Wi-Fi router in your home

To set up a Wi-Fi router, you have to unplug your modem, and then plug in your Wi-Fi router.  Use network cables to connect your modem to a network jack in the wall, and then to your Wi-Fi router.  Turn your modem back on, connect your Wi-Fi router to your computer, and then configure your Wi-Fi router.

It's quite a bit of work, so we'll show you what it all looks like so that you don't get lost.

(NOTE: All pictures courtesy of eHowTech)

  1. Unplug or turn off your modem.  Your modem will look somewhat like the image below.

    Unplugging your modem

  2. Plug in your Wi-Fi router.  It should look something like the image below; note the antenna on it.

    Plugging in your WiFi router

  3. Plug one network cable into a network jack in the wall of your house, and then plug the other half into your modem (if you haven't already).  Then, plug another network cable into the port on your modem that says "Ethernet".

    Connecting your modem to your local network jack

  4. Plug the other half of the network cable that you plugged into your modem into your Wi-Fi router.  There should be a hole on the back of your Wi-Fi router labelled "Internet" or "WAN" (short for Wide Area Network); this is the one that you want.  Then turn your modem back on.

    Connecting your WiFi router to your modem

  5. Use another network cable to connect one of the ports marked "LAN" (Local Area Network) on your Wi-Fi router to the port marked "Ethernet" on your main computer.

    Connecting your WiFi router to your computer

  6. Most modern routers will come with installation software.  Insert the CD into your computer, launch the installer, and follow the instructions in order to configure your router.

    Installing the configurations for your WiFi modem

  7. One thing that you will definitely want to do, if you can, is set up a password to protect your wireless network from unscrupulous users.  To do so, when prompted, select "WPA" (recommended) or "WEP" and type in a password.  You may automatically be provided with one, or you may be able to create one yourself.  See our How to Make a Strong Password tutorial for help coming up with a secure password.

    Setting up a password for your WiFi network


Okay!  Now that your router is set up, you should be able to connect to your Wi-Fi network!


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