Wi-Fi equipment manufacturers want to do the work for you: That’s why they offer routers and repeaters with many settings so you don’t waste time setting them up and adapting them to your home network.
But what is well-intentioned can have negative consequences: For example, pre-programmed passwords can compromise the security of your network. And improper installation of routers and repeaters can prevent the speedy transfer of data in Wi-Fi.
If you make such Wi-Fi mistakes, even the best tools won’t help you. This is why you should not always rely on simple systems, but instead try to improve the speed and security of your Wi-Fi yourself. This article will show you how to do this.
The previously set Wi-Fi password is not changed
Why is this a problem? With most routers, you don’t have to worry about Wi-Fi encryption. Manufacturers sell them with a preset password, which is usually written on the bottom of the router box. There is usually also a password card in the router box, which is placed somewhere near the PC or plugged into the wall.
In this way, everyone in your house can know the Wi-Fi password: Guests, friends, or your children’s friends take a picture of it, for example, with a smartphone. They can access your Wi-Fi and your home network – even outside your home, depending on your Wi-Fi model.
Everything these people do through your internet first falls on you as the owner of the internet – for example, downloading without permission. In addition, unwanted guests can access devices on your home network—such as NAS, IP camera, and printer.
How to fix this problem: You should always change your router’s Wi-Fi password—especially after setting it up. If you change the password later, you will need to re-enter the password for all Wi-Fi clients that were previously connected to the router.
Avoid storing your password where others can see it, such as on the router, nailing it to the wall, etc.
For friends and guests, it is better to activate the guest Wi-Fi in the router, through which they can access the Internet, but not your Internet. You should also protect this additional wireless network with another password.
Why is this a problem? You must gain access to the router’s menu: This is because basic network security settings can be defined there—or can be removed by someone else if they enter the menu.
However, many manufacturers do not protect menu access sufficiently: They probably use passwords for all devices, which can be quickly found by searching the Internet or directly on the manufacturer’s website. Even if they provide a password to access each device, this is usually written on the bottom of the router – similar to Wi-Fi passwords. This way, everyone in your household can access the router’s menus and change settings.
How to fix this problem: In addition to the Wi-Fi password, you should always change the login password in the router’s menu. If the menu also asks for a username, change it again, because it’s usually just “admin”.
Most router models let you know this right after you set them up; well, then you can not continue the configuration without first providing a secure password.
The WPS function in the router remains activated at all times
Why is this a problem? WPS is the easiest way to connect a Wi-Fi client to a router. But this doesn’t only apply to your devices: Anyone with access to your router can use it to join your home network within seconds if they press the WPS button on the router in an unsecured moment.
How to fix this problem: Use the WPS utility when setting up your router to easily connect all WPS-enabled Wi-Fi clients to the router. After that, you need to turn off WPS in the settings of the router. If you want to add a new Wi-Fi client, you can temporarily turn on WPS in the router if necessary. This may seem like a problem, but it increases the security of the Internet, especially in households with several people. Especially since it’s not often that you integrate a new Wi-Fi device into your home network.
Your Wi-Fi is open to your friends and guests
Why is this a problem? It is now standard for guests to have Wi-Fi, not just in hotels and restaurants. Many guests also expect this when they come to your home – for example, it will show them vacation photos on their cellphone, watch a funny YouTube video, or play their favorite song. However, if you allow the guests to access your Wi-Fi by telling them the password, today’s interested parties can not only view the photos on your NAS, for example, but also inadvertently introduce malware into your network.
How to fix this problem: The safest way to provide internet access to guests at home is to use guest Wi-Fi. Every Wi-Fi router has this function. This Wi-Fi is secure because it is separate from the home network: Devices in the guest Wi-Fi can access the Internet, but they cannot connect to your home network because both networks have different IP addresses.
Enable guest Wi-Fi in the router’s menu and give it a simple but meaningful name, for example, “My guest Wi-Fi.”
If you want to prevent people outside your home from using this Wi-Fi because your wireless network extends outside, secure it using the WPA2 standard with a password that is different from your home Wi-Fi network.
Some routers offer additional security measures for guest Wi-Fi: For example, you can specify a length of time that it should be turned on or that it will turn off automatically without devices connected to it.
The Wi-Fi router is in a cabinet or behind a shelf
Why is this a problem? Most Wi-Fi routers don’t look like furniture. Therefore, it is not easy to think of driving them out of sight. However, the Wi-Fi router’s transmission/reception performance drops significantly if you place the device in an enclosed space such as a cabinet, desk, or box, or hide it behind a bookshelf.
How to fix this problem: A Wi-Fi router should be placed as freely and as high as possible – so its radio waves can spread without interference in all areas of the environment to reach connected Wi-Fi devices without hindrance. If you don’t have the best location, there shouldn’t be any major obstacles on the router’s main wireless path, for example, where most of the WLAN clients are as seen from the router.
Some routers can also be mounted high inside the wall using a suitable mount. Many router manufacturers also provide their smartphone software to set up the device or Wi-Fi analysis, which can be used to test the router’s location.
The router treats all Wi-Fi clients equally
Why is this a problem? A router usually provides each client with the best bandwidth available on the Internet. This becomes difficult when many clients are sending data to the Internet at the same time. It can happen, for example, that a client that starts to download or download a lot has all the bandwidth of the Internet for a short time, so that other clients are left empty.
If you are searching on the Internet or writing an email with such a customer, you will not notice this at first. However, if you are participating in a video conference, this may result in poor picture and sound quality or even a loss of communication.
How to fix this problem: In every home network there are Wi-Fi clients whose transmission service is more important than other devices. Depending on the purpose, this can be a work PC in the home office or a gaming console for online gaming. To ensure that the router sends the data of these important Wi-Fi clients quickly, use the QoS function (Quality of Service), which is also called “prioritization” in many router manuals.
Depending on the router, you can specify other devices here that the router should prioritize, or specify applications such as video conferencing, Internet telephony or streaming that should be successful. To do this, it is better to create the first command in the router menu.
This type of prioritization is only possible if the router is operating in router mode and not as an access point, repeater, or named IP client.
his article was translated from German to English, and originally appeared on pcwelt.de.Likewise, some of the images above still appear in German.