Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wifi Setup

Please do participate in my poll on the right - I am guessing that the majority of you are using wifi at home and a portion of you are not happy with it. The reason for this? Wireless anything is going to be subject to interference in your home or office.

The use of consumer electronics has added quite a bit of radio interference in your home. Microwave ovens, televisions, bluetooth headsets and accessories, some remote controls like garage door openers, cordless phones all project radio waves which can interfere with constant use radio transactions like WiFi.

To get the most out of your internet use, it is important to use the best equipment for the job. Since being in telecom, I have noted that ISP's are not to be trusted for the the critical role of determining the WiFi Access Point hardware. Often this process leads to the lowest priced device mentality.

Instead, it is important to consider that you want to have the ISP - cable or dsl service provider offer you a Modem to terminate their service to you and you should go and buy a quality router/access point for your home to ensure quality connectivity and safety from neighbors snooping into your network.

Most of the better manufacturers will have a good wifi router/access point in the $75 - $160 range. I would suggest Linksys, D-Link, Trendnet, Netgear and Buffalo. If you have wifi N computers or access cards, by all means get an N router as these perform much better by offering greater range and wall penetration. The higher end ones will perform on the secondary 5 Ghz band in addition to the 2.4 Ghz band.

This router should be installed behind your modem and of course your desktop computers can be plugged into this as well as your network enabled printer.

In setting up this device, it is best to perform a site survey to find out what channels your neighbors are using for their wifi now. In general, the central channels of the 9 channel wifi range are by default used by other devices such as Cordless phones and other items.

I have had good luck setting up wifi networks on the channels 2, 3, 4 7, 8 since they are not as heavily trafficked. If you live in a multi address building, often it is necessary to try these different channels to find out what works best unless you have access to a channel sniffing device to assess this.

In the setup of your router, you can define this setting as well as the network security.

Next, you need to select your network security protocols. The most secure methods are WPA2 or WPA as these methods are not susceptible to brute force password hacks like WEP. The only reason anyone would use WEP security is if there are older devices which need to use this standard.

Then choose a password over 8 characters long and enter and save your settings. That should do it.

Please comment if you have questions and let me know it this helps.


Maxwell said...

Don't forget to have your password be a mix of upper-case letters, lower-case letters, numbers, and if possible, symbols. A password like this is the worst possible scenario for any type of attack. A good way to do this is to pick a short, easy to remember word, capitalize the first letter, and add numbers and symbols.
Example: Wifi123!

Chris Eckes said...


My WIFI at home is very spotty - it comes in super strong one minute and then disappears the next. I can access the internet through my laptop okay. It gets a little annoying at times but it still works most of the time. However, it makes doing things like playing games online thru my PS3 or talking with someone on Skype difficult because I need a consistent connection for those services to function properly. What would you recommend?

badkins said...

My Apple Airport Extreme is the best router I've ever had. It's probably my 10th or so router - many Linksys models, Motorola, Belkin, Netgear among others all required a lot of handholding, resetting, etc..

I think I've had to actually reset this Apple router twice in 5 months, and one was due to my own jacking around with my cable modem. The thing is rock solid.

The ability to run at 5GHz, N-speeds, and create an ad-hoc guest network if friends visit make it super easy to run. Dunno who makes this for them but it works like a champ.

Gene said...

good comments all, For Badkins, the airport extreme is a very good wireless access point, however it is not critical for good Mac wifi. If you use any of the broadcom chipset routers out there, you can install DD-WRT linux OS and never have to reboot again even with modem changes.

The best part is the current one I sell now costs $25 from Ecost and just requires the addition of the dd-wrt software which is free.