How to setup a wireless network for beginners.

  De Marcus™ 14:33 24 Jan 2006

They seem to be lot of requests for help with wireless networking so below you'll find a beginners guide to setting one up (Guide provided by

If there's anything missing feel free to add it.

To get your wireless network off the ground, you will need:

1. A wireless router (an access-point can be used instead, but for a home network, purchasing a wireless router is recommended for the added bonus of Internet sharing and security. Also, home wireless routers tend to be cheaper than access points, since the latter are primarily marketed to businesses.)

2. One wireless network adaptor for each computer or device that you wish to connect to the router/access point.

Setting up your wireless network:

First order of business is to install the wireless network adaptors into each computer. For desktop computers using a PCI network adaptor, you will need to power down the system, open up the case and insert the adaptor into a free PCI slot (the white slots running in a row down the back of the computer motherboard). Screw the card in, then close up the computer and restart, providing the driver disk when prompted. For a USB wireless adaptor, simply plug it into a free USB port while the computer is running, and install drivers when prompted.

For laptop systems, you will either have a PCMCIA card adaptor (recommended) or a USB adaptor. Both can be plugged into the computer while it is running, though with the PCMCIA card adaptor it is a good idea to power off before you plug it in. Install the drivers as required.

Now choose a location for your router. If you have decided that you will use wired connections for any of your desktop systems, obviously you want it close to them. The router will need to be wired to your DSL or cable modem if you are planning to share internet through it.

If you have multiple floors in your home or office, it is a good idea to put the router on the middle floor to ensure maximum connectivity. You can always change the location later once you see the kind of signals you are getting, so don't worry about it for too long. Plug the router in.

Verify that the 'WLAN' LED is lit up. To test connectivity, open a web-browser on one of your wireless computers and enter the default IP address of your router. If you are not sure what this is, consult your manual, but typically it is If successful you should wind up at the router's configuration interface screen.

At this point, there are a number of things you may wish to configure. The only thing that is essential at the moment is if you have a DSL Internet connection, you will wish to enter your username and password for the connection into the router so it can dial the connection for you.

By default, your router will have a 'pool' of IP addresses which it will distribute to any clients who attempt to connect wirelessly. This is called the DHCP server.

You can disable this feature by turning off the 'DHCP server' option, but if you do so, you will have to manually assign each wireless client an IP address in the same network as the router by browsing to 'My Network places/(your wireless adaptor)/TCP-IP settings' and entering an address in the proper range.

For example, if your router's IP address is, you will need to give your client computers IP addresses in the range of to connect. We will discuss some more efficient forms of securing your connection in a second.

Your wireless network adaptors in each computer should have a status program (see the picture to the right of an SMC PC-card adaptor) that will give you basic information about your network and the signal strength available.

If the signal is poor you will need to reposition your router. Walls, people, and metal can absorb much of the wireless signal, so proper positioning of the router is important. Another important point to consider is securing your wireless network from just anyone accessing it.

  De Marcus™ 14:34 24 Jan 2006

By default, a wireless network is wide open to anyone in range with the proper equipment. If you have set up your router to distribute IP addresses via DHCP, it will cheerfully give them to anyone who walks by with a wireless enabled pocket pc or laptop. Even if you have not, all that is necessary is for them to figure out which IP address range you are using, or use an easily available wireless network detection program such as NetStumbler , and they are in your network. Hmmm.

All recent wireless routers/access-points come with two basic methods of securing their networks, WEP and MAC address filtering. A MAC address (also known as a physical address) is a unique hardware identifier assigned to every network device that looks something like '00-EF-78-C6-34-56'.

MAC address filtering involves manually entering a list of the addresses found in your local network (you can easily find the MAC addresses of your network adaptors by going to the command prompt and typing 'ipconfig /all') and configuring the router to allow only these specific addresses to connect via the wireless network.

The screenshot click here is an example of setting up MAC address filtering, in this case on a SMC Barricade 4port wireless router. Note that this router offers two separate modes for MAC address filtering, connection and association. Allowing association for a specific address allows that address to communicate with other wireless clients on the network, but not the wired network on the other side of the router or the Internet. Allowing connection enables a client full communication through the router.

MAC address filtering is a good basic method of securing your wireless network. Its drawbacks are that it requires some initial manual configuration, to obtain and enter the MAC addresses, and it can be defeated by using a network traffic capture program in conjunction with a wireless card, and reading an 'allowed' MAC address from a captured packet, then using this address on a new network adaptor.

Not that anyone would bother to do this to get into your home network, but business networks would be prime targets for this kind of exploit.

WEP or Wireless Encryption Protocol works by establishing a shared key between the clients and the access-point, then using the key to encrypt and de-encrypt the data passing between them. This offers adequate security for a home network, where the primary concern is that your neighbors do not find out what you are downloading.

To configure WEP, you must enable it on the router and on each wireless adaptor (use the management software that came with the card.), and designate a passphrase or key for the network, which must be entered identically on each system.

By now, hopefully, you have a secured wireless network running in your home, or are prepared to install one. We hope you have found this article easy to understand and use.

  Mitul123 18:27 28 Jan 2006

yes but you have not said how to actually install it or set it up through the computer?
i want to set up a wireless network system. i have 2 computers , laptop and desktop computer. and they all have wireless internet through a router (netgear).but not sure how 2 wirelessly network them together?

  De Marcus™ 18:55 28 Jan 2006

yes but you have not said how to actually install it or set it up through the computer?

That's an impossible task, each bit of hardware is different.

If you need help setting your wireless connection up start a new thread and you'll soon have some responses.

  jimmer409® 05:51 29 Jan 2006

in leyman terms, what's the difference between a router and access point??

  De Marcus™ 07:05 29 Jan 2006

In layman's terms, a router is a wired connection that connects your PCs together to form a network. If that router is connected to, or has a built in modem, it can share the internet connection between any PCs that happen to be connected to it. Routers are now more commonly sold with built in wireless capabilities.

An access point is a wireless device that has many capabilities but mainly targeted toward business users. A wireless access point (WAP or AP) is a device that connects wireless communication devices together to form a wireless network. The WAP usually connects to a wired network, and can relay data between wireless devices and wired devices. Several WAPs can link together to form a larger network that allows "roaming".

  rsinbad 16:46 12 Feb 2006


  keewaa 12:03 13 Feb 2006

Nice post to read before the manual ... gives an overview. One bit I think is missing ;

A big problem is people buying dsl routers when then need an adsl router. The names are confusing and web sites don't explain a DSL router doesn't have a modem built in (ideal for cable NTL), whereas an adsl router does have a modem built in (ideal for BT, wanadoo etc). Connecting a DSL router to a seperate ethernet adsl modem, may work, but generally causes alot of setup problems and sometimes doesn't work at all.

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