The Linksys router setup manuals can sometimes look like they were written by engineers (they were) for other engineers (they weren’t). So they can quite often leave you confused and wondering how to get your home network up and running, especially if you have wired and wireless devices to connect. Additionally, the manuals briefly touch on wireless security, but they have nothing on what protocols are better than the others. I’m going to do my best to help get rid of the confusion and let you know what wireless security protocol I activate, and why.
Configured Computers & Devices for Internet Access
This is a step that has to be carried out on every device you wish to connect to the home network — and it isn’t that difficult. For desktop computers, make sure they have a network adapter (wireless or wired) and all the newest drivers installed.
Next, configure the network adapter to automatically receive an address from the router and enable the wireless adapter on notebooks. I discussed that in another article, so I won’t discuss it here. Devices such as tablets and smartphones are already pre-configured, so no worries there. Many of the newest Linksys routers come with setup CDs, and I won’t discuss using the configuration wizards these contain either.
Linksys Router Setup is Actually Fairly Easy
I’m the guy my family and friends call to set their home networks up and I always recommend Linksys products because they’re relatively inexpensive and, more importantly, they’re high quality and easier to configure than some others.
Your first step is to decide where to put it. It has to be close enough to the Cable or DSL modem for an Ethernet cable to reach it (UNLESS you’re using it as an Access Point/Range Extender), but you can buy those in lengths up to 100 feet, so this is less an issue than we originally thought.
Place the router as high as possible to give the best range for the internal radio. I normally put them in the attic after I finish configuring them.
For initial Linksys router setup , you will need to connect to the router using an Ethernet cable. Plug this into your network adapter port and one of the four (or eight) Ethernet ports on the router. You can also connect to many routers via USB cable). Open your Firefox or Internet Explorer browser and type in 192.168.1.1 and hit enter. A password entry dialog will open once the connection is established. There is no username, and the password will be Admin by default.
Verify Linksys Router Setup Basic Settings
The first step is to ensure that the basic setup will allow you to access the Internet through the router. You want to make sure that DHCP (Dynamic Host Control Protocol- automatic address assignment) is enabled and the proper subnet mask is configured (255.255.255.0). This tells the router what kind of network to configure and how many possible addresses there will be.
Configure Basic Security Settings
You don’t want anyone you don’t know being able to access your network, so you need to change the “Starting IP Address.” IP addresses are four sets of up to three digits, called octets (for example, the default IP of the router is 192.168.1.1). Change the router’s IP to a relatively high number, between 100 and 254. Next, change the start address to something higher (150-254). Save these changes. We do this to make it harder for the bad guys to get into the network since they know your router’s default settings.
Configure Wireless Network Security
Here’s where things get interesting. Your wireless network has a name, called an SSID (Service Set Identifier) pre-configured from the factory. Change it to something unique. The next setting down is Security Mode. Change this to WPA2-Personal (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2-Personal). If you have older notebooks or laptops, you may have to used WPA2/WPA Mixed.
Next is the fun part. Get a piece of paper and write down between eight and 63 characters, making sure to mix them up between numbers and letters. This is what’s known as the wireless network access passphrase. DO NOT use proper names or anything else easy to guess. Get creative and make sure what you write down doesn’t make a bit of sense. The less sense it makes and the longer it is, the harder your network will be to break into. Enter this into the passphrase entry box. Click Save.
You’re done with the router setup. Boot up your wireless devices and enable the Wi-Fi adapter. Bring up the wireless connection screen and look for the SSID (network name) you entered. Click on it and a password entry dialog will appear. Enter the passphrase you chose and click “Connect.” After a few seconds, your wireless device will connect to the network and the Internet.
A Word about Wireless Security Protocols
In computer-speak, any method that computer systems use to talk to each other is called a protocol. When it comes to wireless security, you’ve got four choices:
- WEP – Wired Equivalent Protocol
- WPA Personal – Wi-Fi Protected Access- Personal
- WPA2-Personal – Wi-Fi Protected Access (Version) 2- Personal
- WPA/WPA2 Mixed Mode
WEP is an older and outdated protocol that most bad guys can break within a few minutes. WPA is newer, but still not that hard to break with the right tools. WPA2 is the newest and the hardest to break, which is why I choose it for every wireless network I configure.