What are the benefits?

The most common type of Internet network in a home has become a wireless one. When the kids, the home office and the parents all have a computer, running cables from room-to-room and floor-to-floor is burdensome and unsightly. Having a wireless network is the easiest way to set-up an Internet network, share data and peripherals between computers and make things aesthetically pleasing in a home.

Wireless networks also let you take computers on the go. If it is a nice day outside, you can take your laptop to the porch and work on a business plan. If your family is watching a movie, and you want to talk on the Internet with friends, you can do so in the living room without hooking up wires and moving them around every time you decide to change where you want to use your computer. Plus, if family or friends visit, they can hook up to your network as well with very little effort or trouble.

What Do You Need to Make a Wireless Network?

A cable or DSL modem (or modem/wireless router combo)

A wireless router

– Desktop wireless adapter(s)

– Notebook wireless adapters(s)

– Or wireless-ready computers

There are four main steps to setting up a wireless network in your home for Windows users: Purchase wireless components, connect the router, configure the router and configure your computers and potentially other devices. It really is simple if you take the time to find the right hardware and follow the steps below, as well as do additional research for your particular set-up.

First and foremost, you will need a wireless router and wireless network cards for each of your computers. Many newer laptops and desktops come with wireless card built-in, but older computers will need cards to pick up a signal. Most homeowners have their primary, most used computer, like the one the router is configured to and this can be hardwired if it is not mobile.

Most prefer to hardware their primary computer, just because it is easier that way. Most users also prefer to use matching hardware for all the computers in their home by staying with a trusted brand, such as Linksys, Netgear or D-Link. You can find these at any consumer electronics store or online for price ranges that fit within your price range.

There are many types of routers out there, once you pick one that will work with your modem and Internet connection, you will want to hook it up to your primary computer. Install the wireless network adapter, if you do not have one installed, and if you do, you can stick to the next step.

First, you will want to unplug your modem from the computer. Connect the router to the modem, it will com with all the necessary cables to do that. Plug the modem into the Internet port on the back of the router and once it works itself out, the lights should brighten to tell you it is picking up your Internet signal.

How do you set-up your wireless connection?

Once this happens, you will want to manually set-up the router. Connect your computer to the router directly, torn on your computer and it will connect to the router. It may prompt you to install software, drivers or other data from the installation CD, go ahead and follow those directions, restart and then begin the process again. Open up your Internet browser of choice, and type in http://192.168.0.1. This is the default router configuration protocol address. From there, it will prompt you for a password for your router. Set that up and follow the instructions on the screen to configure your router.

You may want to set-up password protection for your network. Most homeowners now do this so that other people outside your home cannot steal the Internet connection you pay for. Set-up a key password and only share it with those you want on your network. That way is to stay secure and within your home. Anybody who is on your network is your responsibility under most ISP contracts. If somebody is hijacking your wireless Internet connection and engaging in illegal activity, you will be held liable for it whether it is someone in your home or someone sitting out front in a car on a laptop.

After you have followed the steps in the configuration panel, exit out and turn off your computer. Unplug the Ethernet cable and restart your computer, your wireless card will pick up the signal from the router and prompt you for your network password. Enter that, and you will be connected to your network wirelessly.

Should You Encrypt Your Network?

The short answer is yes. By using an insecure network, you allow your whole neighborhood to and those passing by to “steal” the Internet you pay for each month. Anyone can hop on your Internet, browser your network files and even get into your computer system in an attempt to hack your personal information or inflict harm.

Taking the time to set up an encrypted network gives you peace of mind, security and the ability to control who uses your connection. It only takes a few minutes, you can easily give the password to whom you want and the best part of all is that it is free to encrypt your network.

Other wireless frequencies

When installing a wireless network, it’s also important to be aware of other wireless signals in the immediate area. It is really just a matter of making sure your other wireless devices such as a cell phone booster, wireless HDMI, or any other wireless audio/video extender is on a different frequency as your wireless network. The most common wireless networks use the 2.4 GHz band.

Wrapping up set-up

Follow those steps for each of your other computers in the home. Make sure to install the hardware first, then connect to the Internet with the password. Each computer should connect with ease, and your wireless network will be up and running. If you run into problems, you can troubleshoot each connection as you set them up to see if it is the computer, the network card or the network itself.

Depending on the problem, Microsoft offers troubleshooting and other ways to help make setting up your network easier for you. By taking your time and doing your research, setting up a wireless network is easy for even the most novice computer user.

If you are looking to install wireless network adapters to get your network up and running, check out How to Install a Wireless Network Adapter.