How to set up a home Wi-Fi network

what to know

  • Connect the router to the modem using an Ethernet cable, and then connect the computer to the router.
  • Open a web browser and enter the router's IP address to configure the security settings for your Wi-Fi network.
  • Unplug your computer from the router and wirelessly connect all your devices to the new network.

This article explains how to set up a Wi-Fi network using any wireless router and modem.

If wireless routers and other devices support Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), you can connect and configure them with the push of a button. However, setting up WPS on your router is a security risk, so we recommend disabling WPS.

Here's how to set up a Wi-Fi router.

  1. Find the best location for your wireless router . The best placement is in a central location, with no obstructions that could cause wireless interference.

    Do not place the router near windows, walls, or microwave ovens.

  2. Turn off the modem . Before connecting your device, turn off the power to the cable, fiber optic, or DSL modem provided by your Internet service provider.

  3. Connect the router to the modem . Plug an Ethernet cable (usually provided with the router) into the router WAN port. Then, connect the other end of the Ethernet cable to the modem.

  4. Connect your laptop or computer to the router . Plug one end of the other Ethernet cable into the router LAN port (any port will do) and the other end of the Ethernet cable into the laptop's Ethernet port.

    This wiring is temporary; you will remove the cable after setting up the network.

  5. Turn on your modem, router, and computer . It's best to turn on these devices in the correct order. Start by turning on your modem. When the modem lights all light up, turn on the router. When the router is on, turn on the computer.

  6. Enter the router’s management webpage . Open a browser and enter the IP address of the router's management page. This information is in the router documentation (usually something like Login information is also in the manual.

  7. Change the router's default administrator password (and username) . This setting is usually found in a tab or section called "Management" on the router's management page. Use a strong password that you won't forget.

  8. Add WPA2 security . This step is essential. Find this setting in the Wireless Security section of the router's management page. Select the type of encryption you want to use and enter a password of at least eight characters. The more characters and complexity of your password, the better.

    WPA2 is much more secure than WEP. Use WPA or mixed-mode WPA/WPA2 with older wireless adapters. WPA3 is another option for recent hardware, but its compatibility is limited.

  9. Change the wireless network name (SSID) . To make it easier for you to identify your network, choose a descriptive name for your SSID (Service Set Identifier) ​​in the Wireless Network Information section of the router's management page.

  10. Optional: Change the wireless channel . If there are other wireless networks in your area, change the router's wireless channel to a channel not used by other networks to minimize interference.

    Use a Wi-Fi Analyzer app on your smartphone to find uncrowded channels or use trial and error (try channel 1, 6, or 11 as these channels don't overlap).

  11. Set up the wireless adapter on your computer . After saving the router's configuration settings, unplug the cable connecting your computer to the router. Then, if the laptop does not have a wireless adapter installed or built-in, plug the USB or PC Card wireless adapter into the laptop.

    Your computer may install the driver automatically, or you may have to use the installation CD that came with the adapter.

  12. Connect to a new wireless network . On your computer and other wireless-enabled devices, find the new network you set up and connect to it.

  • If your phone can't connect to Wi-Fi, make sure Wi-Fi is on, turn off airplane mode, check the Wi-Fi password, and then try disconnecting and reconnecting. If you still can't connect, check for operating system updates, restart your device, and reset your network settings.

  • To get Wi-Fi without cables or phone lines, find an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Compare plans, contact multiple providers and inquire online.

  • To install a Wi-Fi extender, connect it to your existing router and use it to broadcast a new Wi-Fi network. Place the extender in areas that require a stronger connection. Larger homes may benefit more from a remote or mesh router.

  • To connect an Alexa device to Wi-Fi, open the Alexa mobile app, go to Menu > Add Device , and follow the steps to set up your device and connect it to your wireless network. If your Alexa device is already set up, go to Menu > Settings > Device Settings , select the device, then click Change next to Wi-Fi Network.