A wireless router is a networking device that allows the computers and other electronic devices in your home to access the Internet via radio signals. A wireless router frees your home from some of the cable clutter that accompanies electronics and provides Internet access to mobile devices without Ethernet ports. Because many wireless routers have automatic setup sequences, you do not need to have a thorough understanding of computer networking to install one in your home.
Features of Wireless Routers
In addition to its built-in radio for wireless communication, a wireless router has Ethernet ports on the back, making it possible for a desktop computer without a wireless networking adapter to access the Internet through a cable. A wireless router allows the connected computers and devices to share resources with each other. For example, a wireless router may allow you to stream video content from a computer to a game console for viewing on your television or to back up the files on your computers to a single network-attached storage device.
Installing a Wireless Router
To install a wireless router in your home, place it near your broadband modem and as far as possible from sources of interference such as cordless telephone bases and large metal items. Connect a power cable to the back of the router and to a wall outlet. Finally, connect an Ethernet cable to your broadband modem and to the port on the back of the router labeled “Internet” or “Modem.” The router automatically establishes a connection with the broadband modem; you can begin using the Internet immediately by connecting a computer to one of the router’s Ethernet ports.
Configuring a Wireless Router
Many modern routers have the ability to configure themselves automatically. To do this, install the supplied software. The software walks you through the process of selecting an administrator password and configuring your security settings. While it is possible to leave your router unsecured, it is unwise to do this, as it presents a security risk for your network and allows people to use your Internet connection without permission. When the router installation software asks you to select an encryption type, choose WPA2, as it is more secure than the older WPA and WEP encryption types.
Connecting to a Wireless Router
After configuring your wireless router, connect to it on your computer by clicking the wireless connection icon in the lower right corner of the screen. This brings up a list of the nearby routers that Windows detects. Look for the name you gave the router during the configuration process and click it. Type the password you selected during the configuration process to connect. Windows remembers the password and connects to the router automatically in the future. To connect to the router using a smartphone or other mobile device, look for an option with a name such as “Wi-Fi” or “Network Settings.