Wireless Router Setup

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Wireless Router Setup – Baseline Settings


It’s finally time for some hands-on with the most important component of your Awesome Home Network – your wireless router. The basic setup of your wireless router involves these major settings.

  • Admin username and passwords
  • Security passphrase
  • IP address settings
  • DHCP
set up a home network

Once your wireless router setup is complete, you’ll be amazed at how easy it was. You may even wonder why we just didn’t use the router EZ Setup Wizard. Here’s why:

  1. When things go wrong, you need to have a baseline understanding of how things are set up in order to troubleshoot.
  2. Setting up all the devices we discuss in this course will involve changing and testing many settings. The more familiar you are with your wireless router the better off you’ll be.

Before we start playing with the wireless router it’s important to understand exactly what it is and what it does. Your wireless router consists of 3 major components:

  1. A router – Connects your private Local Area Network (LAN) to the public Wide Area Network (WAN) on the Internet. Dissimilar networks cannot access each other without the help of a router.
  2. A switch – Connects the computers on your LAN.
  3. A Wireless Access Point (WAP) – Transmits a radio signal to network devices on your network that Ethernet cables can’t reach.

Your router’s IP address is very important. Not only is your router’s IP address your local network’s gateway to the Internet it’s also the IP address you use to access its settings and configure it.  It’s usually something like 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1.

Here are the default IP addresses, usernames, and passwords for some of the most popular wireless routers. As you can see, they are all very similar. Even if you don’t know for sure you should be able to guess fairly quickly. If you have a router that isn’t on this list some combination of “admin” and “password” can be used for the username and password and either 0.1, 1.1, or 2.1 can be used for the IP address.

Router Brand  Login IP           Username       Password
Linksys             192.168.1.1     admin              admin
Belkin             192.168.2.1     admin              admin
Asus                 192.168.1.1     admin              admin
Netgear           192.168.0.1     admin              password
Synology          192.168.1.1     admin              admin
Arris                192.168.0.1     admin              password

You can also try http://www.routerlogin.net for some Netgear routers and http://router.asus.com for some Asus routers.

Once we have the router set up with its basic settings, we’ll get into other important considerations to get the most from your wireless router.

OK, Ladies and Gentlemen – It’s Showtime!

This is where wireless router setup can get a little tricky and all that “computer IP address learning” you’ve done to this point will pay off. You can use the CD or Setup Wizard to set up your router and get connected in a few minutes or you can do things the smart way and use the web interface. If you run the CD and walk away, you’ll have no idea how your network is set up, and how to troubleshoot or add devices later. The point of this course is to understand exactly what you’re doing and why you’re doing it so you can be the true master of your home network domain.

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Wireless Router Setup – Video

Note: If your new wireless router is replacing an old router it’s time to remove the old one from the equation. Also, it’s best to reboot your computer and modem before going any further to remove any residual connection information from the old network.

It’s possible that, out of the box, your new router’s IP address may be on a different network and may not be accessible from your computer. For example, if your computer’s IP address is 192.168.0.12 and the new router’s IP address is 192.168.1.1 your computer and router are on different networks and they won’t be able to connect.

An easy way to remedy this is to use the magic of DHCP.  Remember good ole DHCP? Disconnect your old router from your network if you haven’t already, connect an Ethernet cable from your computer to one of your new router’s LAN ports (Not the WAN port.), and reboot the computer. Assuming both the router and computer are set to use DHCP this should force your computer to pick up a DHCP IP address from your router which they can use to communicate with each other.

So, what if that doesn’t work? You’ll have to look up your router’s default IP and manually configure your computer for that network. For example, if your router’s IP is 192.168.2.1 configure your computer with 192.168.2.2 for the time being to connect to the router.

If you bought your router used there may be some custom configuration on it which you’ll never find on the Internet or in any documentation. In this case, it’s best to reset the router to its factory defaults and start fresh. Setting a router to its factory defaults is covered in the troubleshooting section.

Now that both devices are on the same network you can connect to the router’s web interface. As you can see it’s a good idea to do a little research and look up your wireless router’s default IP and do a quick “ipconfig /all” on your computer to see if they’re on the same network.

At this point you should have the following connections established:

  • Power to the Router.
  • Power to the Modem.
  • The router’s WAN cable is connected to the modem.
  • A LAN port on the router to your computer.
wireless router connections

Let’s do a quick test to see if your computer has a direct line of communication with the router. We do this with the ping command at the command prompt. Simply call up the command prompt as we did earlier, and type ping followed by your router’s IP address. If you have a connection the router and computer will ping each other 4 times and it will look like this:

successful ping

It’s time to open your favorite browser and log onto your router’s web interface. Simply type your router’s IP address into the browser’s search field and hit enter. Enter the default username and password from the list above or use different credentials if you have them. Sorry but I could not list the IPs, usernames, and passwords of every known router – just the most common ones. You may have to consult your user manual or Google. The router I’m using already has a username and password set up, so I won’t be using the defaults.

router ip

To access your wireless routers web interface:

  1. Enter the router’s IP into your favorite web browser.
  2. Enter your username and password and hit enter.
wireless router login

Some router web interfaces can be a little confusing and intimidating at first glance. For this demonstration, I’m using an ASUS RT-ACRH17 wireless router. You don’t have to use the same wireless router to follow this course. Most other wireless routers have the same basic settings so don’t worry if this interface looks completely different from yours. Once you see the settings you’re looking for it should be easy to do the same thing on a different router. Router interfaces are a lot like car dashboards. They all look different but contain basically the same information.

Note: Some wireless routers will display an EZ Set-Up Wizard the first time you log on. It’s up to you if you want to use it. You’ll learn more if you cancel it and do the setup manually.

Most ISPs provide their customers with IP addresses through DHCP. In this case, simply set your WAN settings to DHCP and the router will auto-detect your WAN settings for you.  If your ISP uses PPPoE, L2TP, or PPTP you’ll have to get your specific connection settings from your ISP and enter them manually.

Wireless Router Setup – Admin Username and Password

The first thing you want to set up is the admin username and password you use to log onto the router and change settings. This is different from the security passphrase we use to connect to the Wi-Fi.  Since configuring a wireless router is an administrative task, you’ll usually find these settings under “Administration” or something similarly important-sounding.

Whoever uses this login has access to change all the settings on the router. If you allow someone with bad intentions to get their hands on it, they can set your wireless router up for their own purposes and lock you out. Staying with the default username and password on the bottom of the router or pasting it to the refrigerator with a sticky are probably bad ideas.

wireless router admin password

When it comes to passwords the longer and more complex the better.  Try to avoid things that people who know you can guess like your name, phone number, street address, or pets name. Numbers and special characters add to your passwords’ complexity. Changing ILovePizza to 1LovePizza!? making it more complex and more secure. 

image 4

Make sure to hit the “apply” or “save” button after every setting change or your changes won’t be saved.  At this point, you may want to copy-paste your username and password into a text file for safekeeping, log out of the router, and test your new credentials. If you lock yourself out, you’ll have to reset the router to its factory defaults using the method described in the troubleshooting section and start again.

Wireless Router Setup – Security Passphrase

The security passphrase is the password you’ll use to connect to your Wi-Fi. First, you’ll identify your wireless network (or networks) with a name to distinguish it from everyone else’s. This is known as your wireless network’s SSID or Service Set Identifier. Again, you don’t want to expose yourself to the rest of the world with something like “The-Jones-Family” or Bob-Smiths-Router.” Something more anonymous like “Hot-fudge” or “FBI-Van” is fine.

Change Your Wi-Fi Passphrase – Video

Next, it’s time to assign a secure password to your wireless router to keep the bad guys out. By “secure” I mean as long and complex as possible. In other words, 123456 doesn’t cut it. If you type a bunch of random letters and numbers into the password field, you’ll have a pretty secure password. The problem is remembering it and having to type it in again. Luckily when most Wi-Fi connections are established the device will remember your password, so you don’t have to type it in repeatedly. If you have a problem remembering your password, simply add it to a text file and store it in a secure location like Google Drive or a USB thumb drive.  

A good technique is to use a sentence that means something only to you and punctuate it with some numbers.  MyCatIsOnlyHungryWhenImAsleep123 makes for a fairly secure password that is easy to remember.

Another important consideration when setting up your username and password is the security type you want to use. The security type you choose uses encryption to encode your text password on the network making it extremely difficult to intercept.  Sorry but that’s all you’re going to get from me in the way of a technical discussion on encryption. You don’t need to know anything more unless you’re studying for an Ethical Hacker certification.

The security type choices most consumer-grade wireless routers will give you are: WEP, WPA, and WPA2. The WPA2 protocol is the newest, fastest, and hardest to crack. The others are older, easier to crack, and may slow your network down with their limitations. Using WPA2 has become such a foregone conclusion most wireless newer wireless routers don’t even offer WEP and WPA as options.

wireless router password

Your choice here is simple – use WPA2-Personal with AES encryption.  

To set up wireless security on your router:

  1. Go to your router’s “Wireless” settings page.
  2. Select the Band you are setting up (2.4 or 5GHz.)
  3. Type in your wireless network’s SSID.
  4. Select WPA2 Personal with AES encryption.
  5. Type in your passphrase (Pre-Shared Key).
  6. Hit “Apply.”

The SSID/password combination I used here is not secure. Can you see why? It’s not a good idea to use a password that contains your SSID. I’m practically giving part of my password away to a hacker and making his job that much easier.  Of course, my “PizzaGuy” SSID is for demonstration purposes only.

Note: Some wireless routers like the Netgear Nighthawk AC1750 have a pre-configured SSID and passphrase printed on a label on the bottom along with the router’s default IP address, admin username, and password. This is a great way to get started, but some people never change these settings. I strongly recommend you use the router’s web interface to change these settings for security reasons.

image 5

Wireless Router Setup – Router IP Address

Usually, the default IP address your wireless router comes with is good enough. Some people like to customize this to their liking because they see it as an extra security measure. Most routers have utilities that make this very easy. Of course, when you change a router’s IP address you can no longer use that IP to configure it. Also, any gateway or DHCP settings you put on the router will need to be changed as well.

Quick quiz – where might you find the section to change the LAN IP address of the router? Remember your router has two main IP addresses. One is on the WAN (Wide Area Network or Internet) side of the router. The other is the LAN (Local Area Network) side of the router.  The WAN IP address is assigned by your ISP and you can’t change it. You can change the LAN IP address to virtually anything you want so you want to go to the LAN section of your web interface.

change router ip

To change your routers IP address:

  1. Go to the LAN section of your web interface.
  2. Make sure you’re in the section where you can change your LAN IP.
  3. Change the IP. Don’t get too crazy here. Drastic changes can have unforeseen implications on some routers. 
  4. Hit apply

After making this change, you’ll no longer be able to connect to the router’s web interface with the old IP. Also, computers on your network with the old IP in their gateway settings won’t be able to connect to the Internet. You’ll have to manually change their gateway settings to the new IP or let the magic of DHCP do it for you.

Wireless Router Setup – Setting Up DHCP

We’re now in the final stage of putting a basic configuration on your wireless router – setting up DHCP. Most wireless routers will have default DHCP settings already configured. This will work fine for basic networks that are not highly customized like your Awesome Home Network may end up being. Even if DHCP on your router is set up and working fine it’s a good practice to know how to get in there and change those settings when you need to.

First, let’s do a quick review of what DHCP does. DHCP is the protocol that magically configures our network devices with IP addresses.  It can also specify the default gateway your computers use to access the Internet and the DNS server they use to lookup IP addresses on the Internet. DHCP stores its available IP addresses in a pool or range. A pool is simply a group of consecutive IP addresses.

DHCP can also be used for static IPs. If a network printer’s IP address changes no one will be able to print to it. You can remedy this by manually configuring the printer with a static IP or you can let DHCP take care of it for you. DHCP can “reserve” a specific IP for the MAC address of a special purpose device such as a printer or game console. Then whenever that device is turned on it will automatically receive the IP address you specified in DHCP.

Sounds sophisticated right? If you’re thinking about how complicated DHCP is going to be to set up, you’ll be amazed at how simple it is. You simply enable the service, add a range of IP addresses, type in the DNS server and default gateway IP you want your computers to use and that’s it. From that point on DHCP takes care of the heavy lifting for you.

dhcp3png

To set up your IP address pool in DCHP:

  1. Go to the WAN section of your router’s web interface.
  2. Go to DHCP server settings.
  3. Enable DHCP if it isn’t already enabled.
  4. Enter the beginning and ending addresses of your IP pool. The entire range of addresses is 192.168.1.0 to 192.168.1.255. The IPs 192.168.1.0 to 192.168.1.255 are not usable and we’re going to reserve 192.168.1.1 for the default gateway. Don’t forget to leave some room for the special purpose devices we discussed earlier. A pool of 100 IP addresses (192.168.1.2 to 192.168.1.101) should be more than enough for a home network.  
  5. Enter your default gateway.
  6. Enter your DNS server. If you enter the router’s IP address (192.168.1.1) the router will forward DNS requests to DNS servers on the Internet. I’ve entered 8.8.8.8 which is a Google DNS server. Either is fine.
  7. Hit Apply or Save.

Using DHCP to Assign Static IPs

To use DHCP to assign a static IP address you need to find the MAC address of the device. We described how to do this with the command prompt earlier.  In the case of a printer, you can usually find the MAC address on a plate on the back of the printer. If not you should be able to print a configuration page that contains this information. 

Some routers make it easy by providing a drop-down of all devices connect to your network. Select your device from the list and the field will populate with the correct MAC. Enter and save your settings. The next time you reboot the device it should come up with the IP address you assigned it in DHCP.

manually set dhcp address

To use DHCP to assign a static IP:

  1. Go to the DHCP server settings in the WAN section of your router’s web interface.
  2. Enable (Some routers may not have this setting.)
  3. Enter your device’s MAC address.
  4. Enter the IP address you want your device to have.
  5. Add or the new setting. (This may not be the same on some routers.)
  6. Hit “Apply” or “Save.”

Saving Your Routers Configuration

That’s it! Our wireless router setup is complete. It’s now ready to be customized to whatever specifications you require for your Awesome Home Network. Now is a good time to save your configuration. If something happens and, for example, you need to reset the router to its factory defaults, or you completely mess up your original configuration by testing out a new one you’ll have a backup file to restore your router back to this point.

The place you go to save your configuration file will vary from router to router. It will usually be in the “Maintenance” or “Administration” section right next to the firmware upgrade section. You should find utilities to reset your router to its factory defaults, save your configuration to a file and restore your router to a previously saved configuration.

The current configuration file will store all the settings, IPs, and MAC addresses we’ve entered to this point. It’s best to reset your router to its factory defaults before restoring it from a configuration file. 

save wireless router settings
  • Restore – Resets your router to its factory defaults. This will delete all the entries you made to this point. Sometimes if a router configuration gets really messed up it’s best to restore it back to a configuration, we know is stable so we can begin our testing again.
  • Save Setting – This creates a file with a  “.CFG” extension which contains all the settings you have done to this point. The operation will vary according to the browser you’re using and the way it performs file-saving operations. You want to find the file and store it in a place you can find it later. You may also want to rename it to something like “initial config” to distinguish it from other configuration files.
  • Upload – Later if you need to go back to a configuration you saved you can use this utility to browse to its location and upload it. To be on the safe side it’s a good idea to reset your router to its factory defaults before reloading a saved configuration file.

Note: The nomenclature on these router utilities may vary from brand to brand. Check with your manufacturer’s documentation if you’re not sure you are using the right utility.

Your wireless router is now ready for prime time. If something happens, we have a backup of its configuration to fall back on if we get confused while optimizing and customizing in future chapters. In the next section, we’ll tweak the wireless settings to get it to perform at its best.

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Jerry Jones (WiFi Guy) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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Affiliate Disclosure

Jerry Jones (WiFi Guy) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

“As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.” – Jerry Jones

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