Wireless internet is a creature comfort we all enjoy. Being able to move freely around with your device, always connected to the internet is a new recent fad within the last few years that will never go away. How can you avoid some pitfalls while enjoying wireless bliss? The answer is to do some homework and figure out what you need out of your wireless network.
The trouble is setting up the network and figuring out how to connect each device. There are some mistakes that are best avoided in the first place. If you’re struggling with your WiFi hopefully these tips and tricks can help.
Not reading manuals:
This should be the first thing you do. Your WiFi setup depends on the router you have and the devices you want to connect. It’s essential to read the manuals and follow each step. Some of the following mistakes can be avoided simply by reading manuals.
Using default passwords:
Your wireless router comes with a default password for its admin interface. The password is required to log into the device and configure settings. To avoid allowing any Joe Schmo to muck about with your wireless setup, replacing the default password with a strong password is the best defense. The same applies to all devices you’re going to connect to your wireless network.
Failing to turn on WiFi transmission:
Laptops and mobile phones have buttons or software settings that allow you to turn on or off wireless transmissions. You won’t be able to locate a wireless network, let alone connect to it as long as WiFi is turned off on your laptop or phone. Info can be found in the device manual.
Mixing or excluding wireless standards:
There are several wireless standards or WiFi technologies available: 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n. 802.11n is the latest standard. You may have devices supporting different standards and you should sort this out before purchasing a router or a device you want to connect to your network. This information can be found in the manuals. In general, it’s best not to mix wireless standards. You’ll see the best performance, if all connected devices “speak the same lingo”, or use the same standard. For example an old laptop that uses 108.11b may not be able to connect to a router that is only setup to use 802.11n. This could slow down the entire network, even for devices that support higher standards.
Mixing encryption standards:
New devices support different forms of WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) encryption. The old encryption standard WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) should be avoided because it’s easily cracked. Most users set up their router with WPA encryption. Now what would happen if you tried to connect a device that only supports WEP, for example a PDA, to such a network. Of course it would not work! Again, read the manuals and understand which encryption standards are supported by the devices you want to connect. If WPA is your only option, make sure you have a strong password, i.e. random, alphanumeric and longer than 10 characters. Don’t skip encryption! Even if WPA can be cracked, it does require a few minutes and a bit of skill, so your leaching neighbor will probably be too lazy to try.
Badly configured firewall:
One of the main reasons a computer won’t connect to a wireless network is a firewall that denies the connection. To test this, simply turn off the firewall and try again. If the firewall was the cause, learn how to configure it properly. Without any security or Firewall your data is transmitted over the air and it is an easy target for anyone trying to spy on you or hack into your system. So any security measurement is better than none. Use passwords, use strong passwords, use encryption, use a firewall or at least turn on Windows’ default firewall, monitor your traffic.
Among harmless neighbors, you probably are safe even if you don’t apply any security measurements. But for a skilled hacker, you’re still a relatively easy target, despite all the precautions. Each security layer can be cracked separately. In the world of technology, there is not perfect setup or 100% safe secure network. The best we can ever hope to do is denture them and hope hackers look for easier targets.
What other problems or mistakes did you encounter in setting up a wireless network?
Submit a comment and let us know.