Wi-Fi routers allow you to connect multiple wired and wireless computers to a network and share a single Internet connection. Depending on the router you purchase, though, the unit's wireless connection may or may not ship in an enabled state. Therefore, you must usually configure wireless access on a Wi-Fi router with a computer connected via an Ethernet cable. After you make the connections of the modem, router and one of the network computers, activating the wireless LAN capabilities is relatively simple.
Go to a computer with a wired Ethernet connection to the router. Open your preferred Web browser and type the IP address used for accessing the router's administrative control panel interface into the address bar. For most routers, the correct IP address is "192.168.0.1," "192.168.1.1" or something similar. If you do not know the IP address for accessing your router's control panel, refer to the user manual for the device.
Enter the default administrator username and password for the router in the corresponding fields -- again, refer to the user manual if you do not know the default login credentials for the Wi-Fi router. Click "Login" or "OK" to log in to the router and display the control panel main menu.
Click the “Wireless” or "Wireless Network" tab or link on the main control panel page. Click "Basic Wireless Settings," "Wireless Network Configuration" or another similarly named option.
Click the “Wireless Network Name" "SSID" link and change the default network name -- the default network or SSID name is usually that of the router manufacturer. Click the "OK" or "Save" button to save the changes to the SSID name.
Locate the "Security," "Security Mode," "Wireless Security" or other similarly named option in the router control panel. Choose “WEP” or "Wireless Encryption Protocol" in the list of security options. Select "WEP 128-Bit Encryption" if the option is available in the security settings of the control panel.
Enter a unique passphrase or password key in the appropriate field. When choosing a passphrase, select one that is easy to remember yet hard for others to guess. Use a passphrase that is at least eight characters in length and consists of letters, numbers and characters. Entering a WEP passphrase prevents others from using your wireless LAN unless they know they correct password needed to access the router.
Click the "Save" or "Save Settings" button in the administrator control panel. Click "Reboot" or "Restart" to reboot the router when prompted.
Record the WEP passphrase you entered in the security settings and then go to one of the computers on the wireless network. Click the wireless antenna icon on the Windows taskbar next to the time and date display.
Choose the SSID name of your Wi-Fi router in the list of available wireless networks and click "Connect." Enter the WEP passphrase when prompted and then click "Connect” again. You can now use the computer to surf the Internet or browse the local network normally. Enable wireless access to the router on other computers as needed.
- If the router control panel has a "Disable SSID Broadcasting" or other similar option, enable it unless you want to allow access to your Wi-Fi router by others outside your home. By disabling the SSID, you can prevent snoopers outside your home from detecting your wireless network and stealing your bandwidth or possibly hacking your computers.
- If your router does not support 128-bit WEP encryption, you can use WEP 64-bit or WAP encryption to secure the Wi-Fi router and network. However, these protocols are not as secure as WEP 128-bit encryption.
- Linksys by Cisco – Learning Center: How to Secure Your Network
- Cisco Knowledge Base: Setting Up Wireless Security on a Linksys Router
- Columbia University Information Technology: Linksys WRT54G Setup
- PCMag: How to Set Up a Wireless Home Network
- Netgear Support: Wireless Router Setup Manual
- Microsoft Windows: Set Up a Wireless Router
- Microsoft at Home: 5 Steps – How to Set Up Your Home Wireless Network
- Linksys: Setting-Up a Linksys Wireless-G VPN Router with DSL Internet
- Cisco: Accessing the Linksys Wireless-G VPN Router's Web-Based Setup Page
- Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images