Setting up a wireless network

These days, you need a wireless network to take full advantage of high-speed Internet, streaming TV, handheld electronics, gaming systems and even some appliances.

These days, you need a wireless network to take full advantage of high-speed Internet, streaming TV, handheld electronics, gaming systems and even some appliances.

But most users have no real understanding of how a wireless network works, or what to do when it drops a connection. This two-part series will address the basic components in a network, its setup, and troubleshooting tips to keep you surfing the net smoothly.

If you have more than one Internet-ready device, you’ll find many advantages to setting up a network.

All the computers on your network can share files, access network-capable devices (such as shared printers and backup drives), and get online through a single high-speed Internet connection (such as cable, DSL, etc.).

A router acts as a hub, enabling your connected devices to communicate with each other.

A wireless router broadcasts network and Internet access within a certain range, allowing your son to get online from his room upstairs while you cruise the net from your laptop in the living room.

Choosing a wireless router can be confusing because of multitudinous specifications.

A basic 802.11N wireless router will serve most home users looking to get all their devices online. It will work with new systems and will be compatible with older 802.11B and G devices.

Provided that you’re dealing with reliable brands such as D-Link, Cisco, Netgear or Linksys, the less expensive the router, the easier its setup likely will be.

Don’t get swayed by the “top of the line” version unless you specifically need heavy file sharing, business-grade security or the like.

My company typically installs D-Link routers, because we find that brand reliable, cost-effective (starting at US$50) and easy to set up.

The tech media website Cnet recommends the Cisco Valet Plus for a basic, single-band router, calling it “the easiest-to-use wireless router that we’ve seen” (prices start at $50 on Amazon).

All the devices you wish to connect to your network must be wireless capable. Most Internet-ready devices sold after 2008 likely have the necessary hardware pre-installed. If you have an older computer or laptop, you may need to purchase a wireless access adapter, which can be installed in the machine or plugged into a USB slot.

Most routers come with a disk and promise to run the installation software.

But setting up a network rarely goes smoothly. I’d recommend that anyone looking to set up their own wireless network review a how-to guide such as How to Set Up a Home Network In 5 Simple Steps, by Samara Lynn on PCMag.com. It will give you a more detailed arsenal of troubleshooting tips.

When naming your network, consider using something that you’ll recognize (i.e., don’t use the default “D-Link,” because your neighbours may do the same) but that doesn’t identify you (not your name or phone number).

A wireless network is inherently dangerous if you don’t restrict access. An unsecured wireless network allows anyone within range to access unprotected data on the systems in your home, or use your Internet connection for illegal pursuits (transmit viruses or pirated content, etc.).

At the very least, turn on WPA encryption and set a password on your router so that users must log in to connect.

Next week: Tips to address your network’s inevitable hiccups.

Andrea Eldridge is CEO of Nerds on Call, which offers on-site computer and home theater setup and repair. Based in Redding, Calif., it has locations in five states. Contact Eldridge at www.callnerds.com/andrea

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
AstraZeneca vaccine is ready to be used at a homeless shelter in Romford, east London, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Frank Augstein
AstraZeneca-linked blood clot confirmed in Alberta

A case of an AstraZeneca-linked blood clot has been confirmed in Alberta,… Continue reading

The Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools Board of Trustees selected the name St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School to be built in the north end of Red Deer. (Photo Courtesy of  Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools)
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raises about $8,720 for Terry Fox Foundation

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raised about $8,720 for the Terry Fox… Continue reading

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Alberta declines Ontario’s request to send health-care workers

Alberta is “not in a position” to send health-care workers out of… Continue reading

The Red Deer Rebels allowed four straight goals from the Medicine Hat Tigers Friday night on the road. (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers hand Red Deer Rebels 10th straight loss

Tigers 4 Rebels 2 Through 17 games in the shortened WHL season,… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

Ontario Premier Doug Ford points on a COVID-19 caseload projection model graph during a press conference at Queen's Park, in Toronto, Friday, April 16, 2021. Ontario was set to backtrack on controversial new police powers to enforce stay-at-home orders implemented in the battle against COVID-19.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ford backtracks on new police COVID-19 powers amid intense backlash

TORONTO — Furious criticism of new anti-pandemic powers that allow police in… Continue reading

The official program for the National Commemorative Ceremony in honour of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, sits on an empty pew prior to the ceremony at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa on Saturday, April 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prince Philip remembered as ‘a man of great service’ during Canada’s memorial service

Canada’s commemorative ceremony in honour of the late Prince Philip offered a… Continue reading

CF Montreal head coach Wilfried Nancy speaks to his players during the team's practice Tuesday, March 16, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
CF Montreal puts on a show, defeating Toronto FC 4-2 in MLS season opener

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — CF Montreal, carving open Toronto FC’s defence, cruised… Continue reading

Demonstrators using umbrellas as shields approach a point in a perimeter security fence during a protest over the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright during traffic stop, outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department, Friday, April 16, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Journalists allege police harassment at Minnesota protests

Some journalists covering protests over the police fatal shooting of Daunte Wright,… Continue reading

A container ship is docked in the Port of Montreal, Wednesday, February 17, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Montreal dockworkers begin weekend strikes as talks drag on

MONTREAL — Dockworkers at the Port of Montreal kicked off a series… Continue reading

Brad Dahr, 53, is facing numerous charges. (Photo contributed by Alberta RCMP)
Alberta man charged for alleged sexual offences against children

An Edmonton man has been charged for alleged sexual offences against children… Continue reading

A person walks past a COVID-19 mural designed by artist Emily May Rose on a rainy day during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, April 12, 2021. Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off the job or coming into work while knowingly sick could warrant discipline in the workplace. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Risky pandemic behaviour off the clock could mean workplace discipline: lawyers

CALGARY — Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off… Continue reading

Vials containing Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for COVID-19 are seen at the San Marino State Hospital, in San Marino, Friday, April 9, 2021.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Antonio Calanni
China, Russia using their COVID-19 vaccines to gain political influence

OTTAWA — China and Russia have been using their locally produced COVID-19… Continue reading

Most Read