Ask Deemable Tech: Setting Up A Home Wi-Fi Network

May 22, 2014

Glen asked, "I just got an iPad Mini. I already have a computer connected to the internet at home, and I’m wondering what equipment I need to set up Wi-Fi to use with the iPad. I have never had wireless in my house."

Setting up a wireless network for your home is a fairly easy process, Glen. To get started, you’ll need to purchase a device called a wireless router from your local electronics store or online. Before you do, though, there are a few things you need to know.

The wireless router: your pathway to the land of Wi-Fi.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

First of all, you'll want to make sure that the router you buy will support the right Wi-Fi standards for your needs. The most common ones you’ll see these days are G, N and AC, with the speed of the connection increasing in that order. A lot of wireless devices (including your new iPad) will work with G, but we recommend going with an N router (this will be listed on the package). All routers support older standards, so don’t worry that getting a new one will stop your old devices from connecting with it.

At your house, you’re most likely connected to the internet through a cable or phone line coming out of the wall (depending on whether you have cable internet or DSL). That line plugs into a device commonly known as a modem, which decodes the signal into something computers can understand. Another line coming from your modem is currently plugged into your computer’s network card (this will be an Ethernet cable, which sort of looks like a phone cord only bigger).

When you get your router, you’ll need to unplug that Ethernet cable from your computer, and plug it into the router instead. Then you’ll connect your computer to the router with another Ethernet cable. Now all of the internet traffic going to your computer and iPad will be routed through the router (which is why they call it… well, you get the idea).

Most router manufacturers include an easy-to-follow “quick setup” manual that will guide you through setting it up. These steps will be different from router to router, but here are a few general things to keep in mind:

  • Place your router somewhere relatively high up and free from obstruction. This will help to ensure that your Wi-Fi signal reaches as far as possible without interference. You should especially avoid placing it near large metal objects.
  • Make sure you turn on wireless security on the router (you should be given the option during installation). This will require anyone wanting to use your wireless network to enter a password. You’ll see a few different security protocols to choose from in the setup, including WPA, WPA2 and WEP. We recommend using WPA or WPA2, because WEP is the weakest of the three. Make sure you come up with a strong password that can’t be easily guessed by your neighbors. An unsecured network will allow them to use up your bandwidth, or worse, hack into your computers.
  • Your router will also have a host of other settings that you can change through its control panel, which you can access by entering a special address into your web browser. This is often something like “routerlogin.com” or a string of numbers like “192.168.0.1” – the specific address for your router, as well as the login information for that control panel, will be listed in the user manual.
  • You’ll have the option to give your new wireless network a name while you’re setting up. Some people go with the default one that comes with the router, but feel free to name it whatever you want. We suggest “Deemable Tech Is Da Bomb,” but that’s just us.

Once you’ve got everything ready, Glen, get out your new iPad. Open Settings, tap “Wi-Fi”, and you should see your new Wi-Fi network in the list of available ones. Select it, enter your password and connect. If you can reach the internet from your iPad, congratulations! You just set up a home Wi-Fi network!

For more great tech ad​vice, download the Deemable Tech app (for iPhone and Android), and listen to Deemable Tech's full length podcast at Deemable.com. You can also follow them on Twitter @Deemable.