Setting Up a Home Network Router
A router is usually a combination of a few devices - a DHCP server and a network switch, for example. A more expensive router may include a hardware-based firewall as well. Other routers may include data routing features such as Quality of Service, a.k.a. QoS.

If you are a beginner to networks, these terms may have scared you a bit. Fear not, though, because you don't need to work with them. For now, it's important to understand that a router is a device that's capable of sharing Internet access with the devices in your home. Of course, router functionality goes way beyond that, allowing you to share printers or files with other devices, for examples. A router can be set up to use wired connections, or wireless (aka Wi-Fi) connections.

Begin the network setup by choosing a suitable location for your router. You want to place it in an area that's as open as possible, away from walls and large pieces of furniture.
 

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Actually, you can always move the router around the house later on, if there's any need for that.

Locate the cable that was installed by your Internet service provider, and then plug it into the socket that's located on the back of the router. It should have a "WAN" sticker or label above it. Then, connect the needed LAN cable that links your computer and the router.

Power on the router. Give the router OS a minute to load. If everything works fine, you should now be able to access the router's admin page. Open Firefox or a similar browser, and then type in the router admin URL, which can be found in the manual. Often times, it's a set of four numbers, like this:

192.168.1.2

The router admin interface will now load. Log in using the supplied user/password information. Once again, the needed info will be found in the manual. As you will see, the predefined password is very easy to remember. But don't let that fool you! The manufacturer has set a simple password because it wants YOU to change it right away. I guess that you saw that coming: all the needed info on how to do that can be found in the manual.

So, change the password as instructed, picking one that's very hard to guess. Feel free to use whatever series of letters and numbers crosses your mind, including those weird looking symbols that can be found on the top row of our keyboards. Write down the password, and keep the note somewhere safe.

Activate the local area network (LAN) section of your router, and see if the computers that are connected using LAN cables are able to connect to the Internet.

It's time to choose the predefined Wi-Fi network name - also known as SSID. All the needed information is... you've guessed it, in the manual! Choose WPA or WPA2 as a network security protocol to be on the safe side. Enable the Wi-Fi network, and all the wireless devices should be able to access the Internet as well.

There are many obstacles in any house, and some of them will have a significant impact, diminishing the strength of the Wi-Fi signal. You will feel that effect if you want to install the router in the living room and use a laptop in the bedroom, for example. If your laptop is unable to pick a strong signal, it is wise to try and reposition the router. Try to find a place that's got a higher height in comparison with the rest of the furniture and is away from electronic devices, which are known to cause interference problems. If that doesn't work, try to use an external antenna for your laptop's Wi-Fi card. These cards use a special type of connector and cable named U.FL.

Of course, if everything fails, you can extend the range of your network either by purchasing a signal repeater. Actually, there are several different solutions for this problem. Here's an article that can help.

 

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