Build a Wireless Network
Ready to set up your wireless network? Remember — there isn’t only one right way to do it, and you should build the network that best meets your specific needs. That said, when you’re tackling a project like home networking, it’s nice to have some guidance.
Setting Up a Wireless Network
1. Decide what type of wireless router you need. Selecting the router is one of the most important steps in creating your network. The router connects directly to your Internet connection via Ethernet cable.
2. Plan where to place your wireless router. As the central connection point for all of your wireless devices, the router needs to be centrally located, as close as possible to the wireless devices. Because it’s a base station that communicates with the devices via radio signal, it’s also helpful to place the router as high as possible for the best coverage.
3. Install your wireless router. During the installation, make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Most systems require that you turn on the router and THEN connect it to your modem with an Ethernet cable. If your Internet connection is currently connected to your computer, disconnect the cable from the computer and attach it to the router.
4. Set up your computers and peripherals. Make sure that the wireless feature is enabled on the devices that you wish to connect to the network. (If the device does not include built-in wireless, add a wireless adapter, following the instructions carefully.)
5. Configure the router. Most routers are functional as soon as you turn them on. In most cases you will get basic wired Internet access as soon as you connect the router to the modem and the computer. This will enable you to access the Web-based setup that allows you to configure the wireless router.
There are two major steps to setting up a wireless router:
- You need to name your wireless network with a service set identifier (SSID). You can pick any name, but it should be something that you can remember. You will use the SSID to identify your network when you set up your other devices.
- Turn on wireless security. This is very important. If your router and devices support WiFi protected access (WPA), then you should use it. You’ll need a password that serves as a “shared secret” among the devices in your home. If any of your devices do not support WPA, then you’ll need to use wired equivalent privacy (WEP) security. This also provides a secure connection, but it can be more difficult to use because you have to type a long hexadecimal key into every device.
7. Connect your printers and other peripheral devices. To connect a wireless peripheral device to your network, the first thing you need to do is set it up to access the network using the parameters that you established when you configured the router. This includes the name of the network (SSID) and the wireless security passphrase or key (WPA or WEP).
You can connect printers in two different ways: If you have a WiFi-equipped printer, you can configure its wireless parameters to access the home network directly. Or, you can simply connect a printer to a computer on the network and allow the computer to do the sharing for you. Keep in mind that for a shared printer connected to a computer, wireless access to the printer is available only when the computer is turned on.
Extend Your Network with Powerline Adapters
Powerline adapters can extend your home network to places where you don’t have Ethernet cables and/or don’t want them, places where wireless doesn’t reach, or for uses where you need extra speed. Because they utilize your existing electrical wiring using simple adapters, they can be easy to set up.
Setting Up a Powerline Bridge
1. Place one bridge near the router. Plug the bridge into a power outlet. Don't plug it into a power strip outlet — that degrades the signal.
2. Connect the bridge to the Ethernet port on the router, using an Ethernet cable.
3. Plug the second bridge into an electrical outlet. Choose one near the remote device or computer.
4. Connect the bridge to the device with an Ethernet cable.
5. Configure the remote device or computer. Use the same protocols as for any wired network connection.
6. Some bridges include optional security parameters to configure. Read the instructions that come with your bridge and decide if you need to do so.
New in Windows 7: HomeGroup
HomeGroup is a new feature in Microsoft® Windows® 7 that makes it easy to automatically start sharing your music, pictures, video and document libraries with other PCs running Windows 7 on your home network. HomeGroup is password-protected, and you decide what libraries, files and printers to share — and what stays private.
Computers must be running Windows 7 to be part of a homegroup. Verify that your current network location is set to "Home network," using the Network and Sharing Center in the Windows control panel. To create your homegroup, open HomeGroup in the control panel and click "Create a homegroup". Any other PC running Windows 7 on your home network can easily join the homegroup — open HomeGroup in its control panel and click "Join now". To access different PCs, printers or libraries in the homegroup, go to the Libraries folder, which you can access through the Start button.