How to Setup Router WiFi

steve How to , , , ,

In this day and age, we all pretty much rely on WiFi constantly. It’s pretty much the only way to prevent your phone from going over your data limit.

Knowing how to setup a router’s WiFi gives you access to a number of different things that you can change workout having to know a ton about computer networking.

Does anyone honestly like the default 16 character alpha numeric password that is printed on the side of your router? Back in the 2000s when WiFi was relative new it was fine. You only had one device to use it on.

I routinely have 11+ devices connected. I have a bunch of others that aren’t always connected and if I have people over that ask for my WiFi password it can become a nightmare.

Actually setting up a router for first use

Every router is a little different, but the first steps are all the same. You need to plug the router into the outlet and your modem.

If you have a modem that is combined with your router, then you’ll need to plug your modem/router into your cable jack, or your phone line. It depends on if you have cable internet or DSL. If you have a satellite for your internet, then you’ll still have to connect your modem to the cable coming from your dish.

The easiest way to get your router setup is to connect a network cable (Ethernet, it looks like a fat phone cable) from your router to your computer.

When you try to go to any website it’ll automatically redirect you to the setup screen. Follow the on screen prompts. Every router will be slightly different.

Connecting to your WiFi

Whether or not you were able to connect to your router with a cable, you’ll want to get the wireless setup.

On a Windows computer you can click the wireless option in the bottom right corner of your screen. Right next to the clock.

You should see all the WiFi networks your computer can connect to. The ones at the top of the list will have the strongest connection.
When you click on the one you want It’ll say connect. If you need a password it’ll ask you for the password. Type it in, hit enter and you’re set.

On a Mac you’ll need to go to your system preferences, then to network. On a Mac they call their WiFi adapter the AirPort. There are no planes there, they just have a creative way of saying you’re connected over the air.

When you click on the AirPort you’ll see a list of WiFi signals on the right. Click the one you want and it’ll give you the password screen.

Default gateway

There are a lot of other things that you can do to enhance your personal WiFi experience. The first thing you’ll need to do is find your default gateway. This is the IP address of the router. It’s not as hard as you would think to get this.

On a Windows computer, you’ll click on the start icon in the bottom left corner and type “cmd”. This will open up the command prompt. It’s a black window with a white font.

Simply type in “ipconfig” and press enter. You’ll see some new stuff so up. Under the wireless section look for default gateway.

You should see a number that looks like This is the IP address of your router. This is what we are looking for. Write it down or do something so you won’t forget it. You can close this black window.

On a Linux computer you’ll go to the terminal and type in ifconfig. You’ll still see the default gateway with an IP address.

On a Mac you’ll need to go to your system preferences. Then go to network. Click on the AirPort again and there will be an advanced option on the bottom right corner. You’ll see router next to your default gateway.

You’ll type in this IP address into the address bar of your favorite internet browser. It will take you to the login screen for your router.

Every website has an IP address. You can actually type in the IP address of any website to get there. Please don’t try topping in random IP addresses at work. You might accidentally get yourself fired for adult content.

I know what you are thinking. There are countless websites and every computer and phone has an IP address. Surely there aren’t enough IP addresses for everyone.

There actually are, but only because of sub-netting. I’ll talk about that another day. Just trust me on this one. Networking can get complicated.

Changing the Password and SSID

You should have been able to get to the login screen of your router. You’ll need to enter your password for your WiFi. As you can imagine, having a default password can be insecure and annoying to type

From here on the instructions are going to vary depending on the router that you have. My screen shots are for D-Link Wireless N 300 Mbps Home Cloud App-Enabled Broadband Router (DIR-605L)ight=”1″ border=”0″ />. If you want pictures for your make and model, leave a comment with what you have.

You’ll need to login and click the configure button. You’ll see a spot to change the password and the SSID.

You might be wondering why bother changing the SSID, but have you ever decided that you need a new router? Have you felt overwhelmed by the idea of updating all of your devices with your new WiFi info?

There’s really no reason to have to do this. Your computer can’t tell if a signal is coming from one router or another. Your computer is only looking for a signal name it recognizes and if that signal has the same password.

Instead of going to each device and connecting them all individually, you just need to change your SSID, or broad cast signal to match what it was on your old router.


Setting up a router is a lot easier than it used to be. Most companies have created a wizard to make the process a lot easier. Some times you might need to go into your router to make all kinds of changes. Some things you can do are:

  • Hide your signal
  • Change your routers IP address
  • Create basic parental controls
  • Increase your security by only allowing certain MAC addresses to connect
  • Update your firmware

In a future post I’ll talk about some these items. Feel free to drop me a line about any questions or suggestions you might have.

One more quick word on routers. The router I have (D-link DIR605L) works great for me because it broadcasts a signal that is 300 Mbps and I am paying my ISP for a 200 Mbps connection.  My router is providing more than ISP which means I’ll get what I pay for. If I was paying my ISP for 600 Mbps or 1 Gbps than my router would be slowing me down.

Check with your ISP and see what you can get. If you need a faster router, check out Netgear’s R6700 Nighthawk. It can provide 1.3 Gbps and has excellent range.

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