NOTE: Personal wireless routers are not permitted in the residence halls where there is campus-provided Wi-Fi. They can cause interference and degrade network performance for all users. If you live in an apartment where there is no AirBears2 Wi-Fi, you may set up your own router. See our policies page for more information.
Wireless routers allow you to share one Internet connection with multiple computers, and allow your laptops and other devices to connect to the Internet wirelessly. Typically a wireless router costs $30 to $60, and it is all you need to set up your own wireless network. You can set up your router using the its set-up disc or instructions, but if you have lost them or would like to learn a few things about configuring your router, read on! This guide covers basic setup, wireless security, and troubleshooting, and also introduces additional network-related topics.
Plug it in
Your wireless router should come with a power adapter, a network cable or two, and, of course, the router itself. Plug in the power adapter, and connect a network cable to one of the router's local area network ("LAN") ports.
The LAN ports are the group of 4 network ports apart from the 1 separate port. The LAN ports connect to your computers, game consoles, or other devices. Some LG VoIP routers have 1 LAN port, and might be marked as "computer". The other port is the Internet port (also known as "WAN"), and it should connect to the Internet (either to the wall port in your dorm/apartment, or to a DSL/cable modem).
Attention UVA residents: Please check here to view the active ports in your room.
Log in to the Router
Once you have connected your computer to one of the router's LAN ports, you should log in to the router's web interface. The web interface is used to configure the router's settings such as the wireless network name and password and port forwarding. To log in to the router's web interface, you'll need to know the router's web address (technically, an IP address). You can try these web addresses: 192.168.1.1, 192.168.0.1, or 192.168.123.254 (type them in as you would for www.google.com). In the unfortunate case that none of these works, you'll have to do a few extra steps to find it:
Set the Wireless Name and Password
- On a Mac, open System Preferences from the Apple menu (top left), then select Network, and select Ethernet (or AirPort if you're connected wirelessly). Click Advanced, and in the TCP/IP tab, look for the IP address next to "Router."
- On Windows Vista and newer: Click Start, then type "cmd" (which defaults to the search box at the bottom), and press Enter. On Windows XP or older: click Start, then Run, then type in "cmd" and click OK. After you've opened "cmd" (short for Command Prompt), a black window should show up. Type in "ipconfig" and press enter. Ipconfig (short for IP Configuration) lists all of your active network cards/devices and their associated IP addresses. Find the line "Default Gateway" and to the right side of that, you should see something like 192.168.XXX.XXX or less likely 10.XXX.XXX.XXX. If there are multiple "Default Gateway", then look for the one under the title "Ethernet adapter local area network" (assuming that you're connected to the router using a network cable). Type that address into your web browser and you should see the router's web interface.
- If you're interested, try "ipconfig -all" to see what else ipconfig offers.
Note: If you have an Apple router, such as an AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, or Time Capsule, use AirPort Utility (pre-installed on Mac, or available online and from the CD that comes with Apple routers) to configure your Apple router. The rest of this article refers to a web interface, but you will be using AirPort Utility instead.
When you try to log into the router's web interface, you will be prompted for a username and password. Look for the username and password in the manual, or printed on the bottom of the router. The username is often "admin" or blank (don't type anything in that box), and the default password is often "admin", "password", or blank. If none of those works, search online for the router's default password (such as "d-link default password"). If the default password doesn't work, it's likely that the password was set by a previous owner, and you'll have to reset to the router's default configuration so you can log in with the default password.
Note: Wireless routers have two passwords, an administrator password (aka "admin password") and a wireless network password. The admin password is used to configure the router's settings, and aside from troubleshooting, you usually don't need it after initially configuring the router. On the other hand, the wireless network password is needed every time a new device wants to join the wireless network.
Set the Wireless Network Name and Password
Now that you have logged in to the router's web interface, you should be able to view the status and change the settings of the router. The first thing you want to do is select a unique wireless network name and password. The wireless network name (sometimes called "SSID") identifies your wireless network, and the password is used to protect your wireless network by preventing unauthorized people from using it and from spying on your Internet connection.
Although routers vary, the page to select the wireless settings should be easy to find. For example, on Linksys routers, you can change the network name under the "Wireless" tab in both "Basic Wireless Settings" and "Wireless Security". On Netgear routers, these are found under "Wireless Settings". Be sure to select a unique network name that doesn't reveal too much about you, and choose a strong password which includes letters and numbers, and don't use phrases such as your phone number, address, name, or a word from the dictionary.
You should also choose the encryption type. WPA2 is the strongest, but older computers/devices may not work with WPA2. The next best is WPA, and is compatible with most devices. The last option is WEP, but WEP is outdated and can be "cracked" in minutes using tools found online. If your computer/device cannot connect to the network, try lowering the encryption type.
Set the Router Administrative Password
Lastly, you might also want to set an admin password, which is used to log into the router's web interface. If you're the only one on the wireless network, changing the default password is optional because the web interface can only be accessed after connecting to the wireless network (which requires knowledge of the wireless network password first) or by physically connecting to the router using a network cable. If you share your wireless network with other people, it is highly recommended that you change the router's default admin password. Be sure to choose a memorable admin password!
Congratulations! If everything went smoothly, you've successfully set up your own wireless network, protected it with a password, and probably learned a few things about networking! You can connect your laptop, smartphone, or even your PlayStation to the newly created wireless network, and start browsing the Internet! If you'd like to learn more, continue reading for more advanced troubleshooting and introductions to networking-related topics.
Common Problems During Registration
- Make sure the network cable connected from the router's WAN port (on most routers, this is the single port apart from the four other ports) is the one connected to the wall/internet port.
- Is the router actually connected to an internet port, or is it a telephone port? Some wall ports which fit network cables are actually telephone ports. Internet ports are sometimes blue, and often have a label ending in "-D" (D for data) and not "-V" (V for voice/telephone). Also, when your router is plugged into a network port, the Internet status light on some routers will flash or light up.
- Did you wait 10 minutes after connecting your router to the Internet port, or after completing registration? Our network checks for unregistered devices every 10 minutes and moves the connection to an "unregistered" VLAN (virtual network), where all devices are forced to register. A similar process happens when we detect a registered device.
- If you manually typed the MAC address of the device to register (instead of letting our system automatically detect it), did you register the correct MAC? A common problem is registering the router's LAN MAC instead of the WAN/Internet MAC (which are often different by 1 digit). To verify that the correct MAC is registered, you can call the Student Tech Services Helpdesk at (510) 642-4357.