Setting Up a Wireless LAN

How to setup a wireless LAN network in your office or home

It's a fact: Wireless networking at your office or home is a convenience that increases effectiveness and productivity. You can free yourself from wired connections by setting up a wireless Local Area Network (LAN or WLAN in tech-speak). Follow these steps:
  1. Choose and purchase wireless LAN router that matches your needs and budget.
  2. Set up the wireless router to work on your WLAN network and with your Internet connection.
  3. Configure your router to require a password to restrict wireless networking to authorized users of your network. (See Securing your wireless LAN.)
  4. Configure your notebook and/or desktop computer(s) to work with your WLAN network.

Get a wireless LAN router

The first step in your wireless networking setup is to purchase a router at your local computer store or from an online reseller.

Set up your wireless router

The wireless router should come with step-by-step instructions to set up wireless networking that don't require reading the entire manual. Connect an Ethernet cable from the modem's port to the appropriate port on the wireless router. If the Wi-Fi router only has a single Ethernet port, then that is the port to use. However, if it has more than one Ethernet port, then the one to use to connect to the modem is often marked WAN (for Wide Area Network, meaning in this case, the connection to the Internet).

Connect your notebook or desktop computer to your WLAN network

Most notebook computers come with built-in Wi-Fi support. You can also install a Wi-Fi card in a notebook or desktop computer if needed for wireless networking capabilities.

Secure your wireless LAN network

Set up password security on your WLAN network. This will prevent unauthorized users from accessing your Internet connection and your private network. The exception would be if you are intentionally setting up a network for free public access (e.g., in a coffee shop).
  • Avoid purchasing an expensive Wireless Access Point. These devices lack a necessary feature for supporting a WLAN network with more than one computer on it, and even if you only have one computer now, the savings are so minimal it's not worth limiting yourself.
  • A faster router that supports 802.11n (or some variation such as pre-N or N1) won't speed up your connection to the Internet, but will only be faster for transferring data on your local wireless LAN network.
  • Many wireless LAN routers are configured using a Web browser, but some require or offer as an option a Windows-compatible program that you install from a CD-ROM included with your router hardware.
  • Choose a wireless networking router that includes manufacturer support for your operating system.
  • If you use Macintosh, consider purchasing one of Apple's wireless routers despite the extra cost. If you have AppleCare on any Apple computer, the protection extends to any Apple peripherals you purchase including their wireless LAN routers. You can get support from Apple on the phone or at an Apple retail store.

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