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HOW TO SETUP WI-FI CONNECTION AT HOME



With an increasing number of us buying laptops—coupled with more broadband connections—we’ve seen a spike in the number of multiple-PC households. It’s quite common—especially in metros and A and B class cities across India—to find a PC plus a laptop or two (and even WiFi-enabled PDAs) in the average tech-savvy household. The need for networking them arises, however, and WiFi routers seem to be the popular choice. This is where the tech-savvyness ends, sadly, with more unsecured wireless networks popping up all the time. Here we’ll walk you through some important aspects of setting up and managing your network.

THING YOU NEED


If you have a broadband connection that requires an ADSL modem, you should consider buying an ADSL router. These have the modem inbuilt, and also act as a router for your network. If your ISP has already provided you with a modem, you’ll only need the average WiFi router. We’ve found the Linksys WRH54G router to be the most popular buy, and it’s what we’ve used as an example here. The slightly older Linksys WRT54G is also a very popular model; the only difference is in the looks, and the fact that the (newer) WRH54G has a Wizard page in the control panel to help you set things up easily at home. Routers from D-Link, NetGear and others are just as good—just the terminology and nomenclature of the settings we mention in the following will differ from what you find on your screen if you own a different brand of router.

Setting It Up Right

 It’s best to let your router share your Net connection, so that the laptops or other devices on the network can access the Internet even when the desktop PC (if you have one) is switched off. If you buy an ADSL router, you will find that your ISP’s cable fits directly into it. If you already have a modem, and if you’ve bought a WiFi router, you’ll see that it has LAN ports at the back. One of these ports will be called “Internet” or “WAN”, and this is where you connect the LAN cable between your router and the modem. 

Router Settings 

All the routers available use a browser-based control panel, which you access by typing in a specific address into the address bar. The first time you hook up your router to your PC or laptop, you should use a LAN cable (usually bundled) and connect it to one of the router’s LAN ports. Set the Local Area Network connection on your PC / laptop to obtain an IP automatically. To do this, go to Start > Settings > Network Connections. Rightclick on your LAN connection and select Properties. Under the “This connection uses the following items:” header, you should see Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). Doubleclick this and make sure the Obtain an IP address automatically radio button is selected. Click OK and then, back in the LAN Properties box, make sure to check the Show icon in notification area when connected box at the bottom before clicking OK again. Usually, the documentation that accompanies the router will tell you what address to use to access the control panel, but if you’ve have lost the documentation, you can just wait for the LAN connection (between the router and the PC / laptop) to get running, and then, once you have been assigned an IP address, look at the details and note down the “Gateway” IP. You should see the LAN icon in the Taskbar when the connection is available; just doubleclick on it and select the Support tab. Here you will see values for IP, Subnet Mask and Default Gateway. Type the Gateway IP into your browser and you should get into the control panel. You might have to use “admin” as the username and a blank password if prompted. Your manual will have this information, but if you’ve lost it, look up the manufacturer’s Web site.

The Basic Setup

 If you’re using the WRT54G router, the first screen you’ll see is the Basic Setup configuration options. Here you specify details of your Internet connection and LAN and wireless settings. Other routers will have similar settings. Important settings to remember are: Internet Connection: Here you will be asked for the connection type (usually PPPoE for ADSL in India), and the username and password that your ISP should have provided you with. Enter them in the appropriate boxes. Network: Here you get to choose what IPs your LAN should use, and what IP the gateway should use. You should use private IP addresses here, such as 192.168.0.1, 192.168.100.1, 10.0.0.1, etc. Servers: You can set whether the router assigns IPs dynamically to clients that connect to it, and which address to start assigning from. In our example, the router is set to use DHCP, and starts assigning IPs from 192.168.100.100.

Security And Restrictions 

Clicking on Security will give you two options— Firewall and VPN. All you should do is make sure that all the boxes under Firewall are checked. Leave the VPN settings the way they are. Under Access Restrictions, you can control who accesses what and when. You can define up to 10 access policies, which basically means you can make 10 rules here. Amongst other things, you can select a list of PCs, based on MAC addresses, IP addresses or IP ranges, and set times when they get access to the Internet, or times that they don’t. All the settings are quite self-explanatory. You can also block services such as trace route, ping, SSH, IRC, etc., from the router itself, making doubly sure that no one can use a protocol you don’t want them to. Apart from all this you can even block sites by typing in their addresses, or you can block sites based on keywords. Blocking sites with the word “download” is a good idea if you are on a limited bandwidth account and have others using the same router.