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Set up and optimize your wireless router for the best WiFi performance

How do I connect my WiFi router?

Putting a new router into operation is not easy to take out of the box and connect. But setting up a home network must be intimidating even if you are a beginner. Nowadays, router manufacturers have made it easier than ever to connect to your Wi-Fi network quickly and easily. But just because you have everything connected and it seems to work doesn't mean that the performance and security of your network are as good as they could be. Follow these basic steps to correctly configure your wireless router and optimize your wireless network and connectivity.

Note that these steps assume that you have already found the right router for your home. If you still want to make a purchase, check out our buying guide for wireless routers which also contains the best products we have tested.

Placement and configuration

Before you begin, you must consider where you place your router. Finding an open space to the center of your home is the best way to ensure optimum coverage. Keep in mind that walls and floors obstruct WiFi signals, so the more obstacles you have between your devices and your router, the weaker (and possibly slower) the signal will be. Try to avoid proximity to large metals, glasses, bricks or concrete objects.

First you must connect your router to your modem . For this you need an Ethernet cable that you want to connect to the WAN (wide-area network) port on the back of your router . This port may look slightly different from router to router, but it usually has a different color than the other ports and will be labeled & # 39; WAN & # 39 ;, & # 39; Internet & # 39; or the like. From the WAN port, connect the other end of the Ethernet cable to the Ethernet port on the back of your modem . Make sure that your modem is switched on and that you are ready to connect to the Internet . You must then of course connect your router to a power outlet and switch it on .

 Router Ports

Many modern routers can be fully configured from your smartphone . Manufacturers have their own unique installation app, so consult your router's quick start guide to make sure you download the correct one. However, not all routers have a mobile app. Some have a special website URL that loads the router's internal configuration page. You can find this URL by connecting your computer via an Ethernet cable to one of the router's LAN ports and entering or a similar address (as specified in the router documentation) in the search bar of your browser.

 Login Router Setup

The first step to deploy your network is to set a user name and password. If you have a used router, the user name and password can be reset to the factory settings by holding down a recessed button somewhere on the router (usually the back). Often these default values ​​are something like "admin" and "admin", which every potential hacker knows, so make sure you change them immediately. Use a secure password with a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

How do I configure my router?

With the set username and password you can continue to configure the settings of your router. Just like when cooking a dinner, there is no "right" way to install a router, and each model probably has its own unique steps, depending on the functions. Therefore, trying to describe every possible configuration path here would be tiring and meaningless. We strongly recommend that you consult your router manual for specific information.

That said, we have a few advice points:

Use the simple installation wizard. Most routers offer a form of short installation routine that requires little more than the SSID and password. If in doubt, start with this. (The SSID is the WiFi name of your router. It may be something like "asus" or "netgear" out of the box, but feel free to change this into something creative, such as "FBI-surveillance van.") You can always log in again on the app or browser page of the router to access more advanced options for matching your experience.

 asus wireless settings

Use the WPS button to connect Wi-Fi devices If you have ever paired two Bluetooth devices, such as a smartphone with headphones you already have a basic knowledge of how this works. Suppose you want to connect a Windows 10 laptop to your router. On your laptop you will see the SSID of your router appear in the list of visible wireless networks in Windows. When you select the SSID and try to connect, Windows prompts you to enter the network security key. This is an unnecessary technical way to say a password. If you have worked well with your security and created a password with randomized uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols, you have completely forgotten it and do not want to ruin it again. Press the WPS button on your router instead. You must have at least one minute to find the router and the laptop and pair successfully. Please note that WPS only works with Windows and Android devices.

If in doubt, let the router do it. "Auto" configuration tools are your friend. In more than 20 years I have never had a reason not to let the router manage my IP addresses with Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP ), a protocol that automatically assigns IP addresses to devices . J Because you can change something, this does not mean that you have to do that. In any case, go to the automatic settings during the setup phase and early use.

Is it better to connect to the 2.4 GHz or the 5 GHz band?

All other things are the same on the client device side, 5 GHz connections deliver better performance at short distances than 2.4 GHz . This is because 5 GHz, although slightly faster, cannot travel as far or send through some objects because of the shorter wavelengths of that band. The 2.4 GHz band usually has more congestion and fewer channel options. That said, if you want to continue using 2.4GHz, consider experimenting with the channel selection. "Auto" usually does a decent job of jumping around the channel options and finding the best, but if you're struggling with client connections, try setting the channel manually to 1 or 11 . The 2.4 GHz band has a total of 11 channels that you can switch between to prevent interference, with channel 6 usually the default setting. When you select a specific channel, there is usually a signal overflow. For example, if you select channel 2, traffic to channels 1 and 3 is often spilled. So if you switch to the extremes of 1 or 11, the furthest points of the default value of 6, you can sometimes ensure the best performing connections. [19659003] After the "easy" installation, some routers guide you through a few extra steps, such as setting parental controls (functions that allow you to filter certain types of content) and automatically updating the router firmware. After these preparations, continue with "wireless installation" or a similar tab / screen to activate your Wi-Fi network. After your network is activated, you can connect any device with it and start surfing the web.

Reaching the Next Level

With most routers, you simply activate your network and connect to the Internet is just scratching the surface of what you can do. Although a tab name such as "advanced settings" may seem a bit intimidating, you can use the & # 39; s menus here to control some of the most useful features of your router. We will cover some of the most attractive items below.

Quality of Service (QoS)

QoS is one of the most convenient functions for online entertainment. This allows you to select and prioritize the upstream and downstream traffic on your network, which can provide a performance improvement for your favorite streaming service or online game. Most routers have a tab in their app / configuration page dedicated to traffic monitoring. Navigate to this and look for the QoS tab. Enable QoS and then you can prioritize certain services, such as online games or video streaming . You can also prioritize devices on the network. Years ago this was usually done by specifying the device's unique MAC address and setting a priority level for that device. Nowadays, vendors such as Netgear deliver increasingly intuitive, graphical approaches to the same idea, such as in the Manual Prioritization screenshot below.

 linksys manual prioritization

With QoS options you can also see how your total bandwidth is distributed per device, so that you can see everyone who grasps more than his reasonable or desired share.

 netgearnetwork monitor

Today, most nature traffic is downloaded, especially with multimedia streaming. If you find that your streaming services occasionally pause to buffer, try using QoS to prioritize their traffic. In general, only gamers have to worry about upstream priorities.

Guest Networks

A guest network is useful if you prefer to keep all data and files on your personal network out of unauthorized hands. To set one up, go to the app / configuration page of your router and navigate to the wireless settings. Guest networks are disabled by default on most routers, so there is usually a page to set them here. Confirm the network name and password and the network will be set.

 nighthawk guest network settings

We highly recommend applying at least WPA2 encryption to your normal WiFi network, but you may want to your guest network & # 39; open & # 39; allow for easier access. Although useful, this can also encourage connections from neighbors and stray people on your doorstep. In addition, make sure you limit the access rights of the guest network, such as which band they can use or which hours the network is active. You may also want to limit the guest network to the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band, but not both.

Traffic monitoring

It can be useful to know how you can see which traffic your network is going through, as well as the ability to limit traffic. If you are interested in one of these two functions, go to the advanced settings menu of your router. There is usually an option called a traffic monitor, traffic meter, traffic monitor or something similar. Switch this function on and you can observe the traffic of your router. In some routers you can also choose to limit incoming traffic (downloads), outgoing traffic (uploads) or both. Not all routers have a traffic monitoring function, but there are an abundance of online services that can do this for you including Solarwinds RTBM or PRTG .

 asus traffic monitor

FTP servers

Internet elders may remember the days before Dropbox, when transferring large files between systems passing through different hoops had to jump with special file transfer protocol applications. FTP apps may no longer be common, but technology can still be a convenient way to transfer many files without cloud services.

FTP servers are only available for routers that have at least one USB port. The first thing you need is a USB storage device, such as an external hard drive connected to your router. Then go to the advanced settings on the app / configuration page and look for a tab with the name USB storage, USB settings or something similar. On that tab, click the check box for "FTP via the Internet" or something similar. Your USB device is now available to users on your network. If you want to be the only one who has access to the USB device, you can change the read and write access as admin-only.

With some routers, you must configure read and write access for specific folders. Simply click on "new folder", "select folder" or something similar and navigate to the desired folder on your USB device. Select the folder and click Apply Changes.

 Asus FTP

MAC Address Filtering

Think of a MAC (media access control) address as a universally unique name for each network device. The address is linked to the device's hardware. With some routers you can set a list of specific MAC addresses that may or may not have access to your network. It is just like blacklist or whitelist which devices have access to your LAN.

 nighthawk device settings

To do this, find the MAC filter under the advanced settings tab. With dual or tri-band routers you usually have to select which band the filter applies to, and with some routers you have to select whether the MAC address entered is the only one accepted on the network or the only address that will be used. refused. After you have set your preferences for those options, the final step is to find the MAC addresses on the devices that you want to filter and type them in .

For mobile devices such as phones or tablets, You can find the MAC address by going to the settings of your device and going to the About phone tab. From here, some devices have a Status tab, where the MAC address can be found, while others have it directly available in the About Phone section. On a Mac or PC, go to the network settings page of your device and open the network and sharing center. Click on your WiFi connection and search for details or properties. A large number of information is displayed in this area, including the & # 39; physical address & # 39; of your device, another term for the MAC address. (On a Mac, it is called "Wi-Fi Address.")

Parental Control

Parental Control allows you to set minimum time limits for when each allowed device (identified by MAC address) on the network. So if your child has the bad habit of using devices long after bedtime, but you don't want to constantly play the bad agent who has to check where and when devices are returned every night, no problem.

First use MAC address filtering to ensure that only approved devices can connect to your router. Then use parental controls to ensure that those allowed devices can only connect within approved hours. It only takes a few minutes to set up, and just like a well-configured router in general, it will heal countless headaches and make your household run much smoother.

 ASUS Parental Control

Next Steps

Anyone can connect to the Internet in minutes using your router's quick start guide, but most models hide lesser-known treasures in their setup menus & # 39; s. If you want to get the most value from your router investment, take the extra time to explore these advanced options. And if you are still looking for a new router, consider going beyond the list of functions and the product specification sheet. Download the manual, dive into these advanced options and see which functions will provide the most value in your area. Once you get started, test your internet speed. And if you need more guidance, check out our advanced hacks: 10 tips to speed up your WiFi and 12 tips to solve problems with your internet connection.

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