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Windows 7 : Creating a Windows Network - Installing a Wireless Network (part 2) - Setting Up a New Wireless Network

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7/7/2013 9:23:15 PM

3. Setting Up a New Wireless Network

If you’re setting up a new wireless network using a wireless router or access point, the hardest part of the job is setting up security and Internet access settings in the router itself. There are three ways to configure a new router:

  • Using a setup program provided by the router’s manufacturer on a CD or DVD. This is usually the quickest and easiest method, since the setup program knows exactly how to configure your router. If you have high-speed Internet service, the setup program may also be able to set up the router to connect to your Internet service at the same time. (The next two options don’t do that).

  • If your router supports WiFi Protected Setup (WPS), using the Set Up a Network wizard provided with Windows 7. If your router has eight-digit numeric PIN code printed on the bottom, or if it has a pushbutton labeled WPS, you can use this wizard.

  • Manually, by connecting to the router using a web browser.

Tip

Before you get started, you might want to check the router manufacturer’s website to see if a firmware update is available. (Firmware is the software built into the device.) Update the firmware following the manufacturer’s instructions before you start using the network since the update process sometimes blows out any settings you’ve made in the router, and you’ll have to start over as if the router was new. It’s still worth doing this, as firmware updates are usually issued only when serious bugs have been found and fixed.


I give general instructions for these three setup methods in the following sections. The manufacturer’s instructions might be more detailed.

Whichever method you use, as I mentioned in the previous section, you need to select up to five things to set up a wireless network: an SSID (name), security type, encryption type, encryption key, and possibly a channel number. A setup program or the Set Up a Network Wizard might help you make these selections automatically.

Using the Manufacturer’s Setup Program

The easiest way to set up a wireless router is using a program provided by the manufacturer. Connect one of your computers to the wireless router using an Ethernet cable, then run the program from the manufacturer’s CD or DVD.

The setup program will typically suggest default settings for the router, which you may change. As I mentioned previously, select WPA2 security unless your router or one or more of your computer’s don’t support it.

You should write the final settings down, especially the security key. The setup program will then install the settings in the router. When your computers detect the new wireless network, you can connect to it and type in the security key.

If the router doesn’t set up Internet service, see “Setting up Internet Service” after I describe the other setup methods.

Using the Set Up a Network Wizard

If your router supports the WiFi Protected Setup (WPS) automatic configuration scheme, Windows 7 can set up the router for you automatically. You’ll need the router’s 8 digit PIN number to use this method. The PIN might be printed on a label on the bottom of the router, or, you might be able to find out what the PIN is by connecting to the router using a web browser. I’ll tell how to do this shortly. Also, this method works only on a router that has all of its factory-default settings and hasn’t yet been configured. (If you have a used WPS-capable router, you may be able to use its setup web page to restore its factory default settings.)

To Set Up a Network wizard, follow these steps:

1.
Connect your computer to the wireless router using an Ethernet cable, and power up the router. Wait 60 seconds or so before proceeding. If you are prompted to select a network location, choose Home.

2.
Click on the Network icon in the taskbar and select Open Network and Sharing Center.

3.
Under Change Your Networking Settings, select Set Up a New Connection or Network. Highlight Set Up a New Network and click Next.

4.
Wait for your wireless router to appear in the dialog box. When it does, click Next. If it doesn’t appear within 90 seconds, it might not be WPS capable, or it may already have been configured. If so, skip ahead to “Configuring Manually,” page 470.

5.
Enter the PIN code printed on your router and click Next. If the PIN is not printed, see if you can get it out of the router. Follow steps 2 through 5 in the section titled “Configuring Manually” to get into the router. See if any of its setup screens display the WPS PIN number. (On a TrendNet router I tested, I found this under Wireless, Wi-Fi Protected Setup).

6.
Adjust the network name if you wish, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. The Set Up a Network wizard lets you change the default network name and security settings.

If not all of your computers support WPA2 security, click the circular arrow button to expand the advanced settings section. Change the Security Level to WPA-Personal if all computers support that, or WEP if that’s the best method supported by all of your computers. You can also select No Security, but I strongly recommend against this.

When the settings are made, click Next.

7.
The wizard will configure the router, and will eventually display the security key. Write this down and keep a copy of it in a safe place. (If your location is secure, you can write in on a sticky note and attach it to the router itself).

I suggest that you also click Print These Network Settings, which displays a WordPad document that lists the security information and also provides instructions on setting up other computers. You should print this document.

8.
You have the option of using a USB thumb drive to copy the network settings to other computers. If you want to do this, plug in a removable USB drive, click Copy the Network Profile to a USB Drive, and follow the wizard’s instructions. Carry the drive to each of your other computers with wireless adapters, insert it, and run the setupSNK.exe application. Alternatively, just type in the network key manually at each computer.

When you’ve followed these steps, your computers can all attach to the wireless network, using the network key that the wizard selected. If you need to set up Internet service as well, see “Setting up Internet Service” after the following section.

Configuring Manually

If you have to configure your router manually, your best bet is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. I can’t give you specific instructions here, but I can give a general outline of the process:

1.
Connect your computer to the wireless router using an Ethernet cable, and power up the router. Wait 60 seconds or so before proceeding. If you are prompted to select a network location, choose Home.

2.
Click Start, All Programs, Accessories, Command Prompt. Type the command ipconfig and press Enter.

3.
Look for the heading that reads something like “Ethernet Adapter Local Area Connection,” and under that, look for the Default Gateway setting. It should be 192.168.0.1, 192.168.1.1, or something like this.

4.
Open Internet Explorer, and in the address bar, type // followed by the Default Gateway numbers (for example, //192.168.0.1) and press Enter.

5.
Log on to the router using its administrative username and password. In many cases you can leave the username blank and enter admin for the password, but this varies by manufacturer. You’ll have to read the instruction manual or search the Web to find the default password for your router.

You may wish to change the default password as your first step. If you do change it, be sure to write the new password down and store it in a secure place.

6.
Use the router’s web page menus to locate the Wireless configuration page. Enter a network name (SSID), select a security type, and enter a key.

7.
Use the appropriate “save settings” button or menu choice, wait 30 seconds and try to have one of your other computers connect to the router using a wireless adapter, following the instructions under “Joining an Existing Wireless Network” on page 472.

When other computers can connect successfully, if the computer you used for setup has a wireless adapter, you can disconnect the Ethernet cable. (Ethernet connections are faster and more reliable than wireless, though, so use wired connections whenever it’s convenient to do so.)

When your computers can connect to the wireless router, you can have the router establish an Internet connection for you.

Setting Up Internet Service

Once your wireless network is working and your computers can connect to the wireless router, you will probably want to have the router share a high-speed Internet connection.

If you used the manufacturer’s setup program to configure your router, it may have set this up for you already. If you have to set up the Internet side of your router manually, try to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. I can give you only general instructions here.

To set up shared Internet service, view to the router’s setup web pages by following steps 2 through 5 in the preceding section, “Configuring Manually.” Locate the router’s Wide Area Network (WAN) or Internet setup web pages. Many routers have button that you can click to run an Internet setup wizard; otherwise, you’ll have to set up the connection manually.

In general terms, there are three ways to connect:

  • If your wireless router’s WAN (Internet) port is connected to a network that has an Internet connection, chose the router’s “direct connection” option.

  • If you use Cable Internet service, most likely you’ll select the DHCP option. You may have to enter a specific host name supplied by your cable company. Other cable ISPs key off your network adapter’s MAC address, so you may have to call the ISP to inform them of the router’s MAC address (which is usually printed on the bottom of the router).

  • If you use DSL service, most likely you’ll select the PPPoE option. You’ll have to enter a username and password.

Your ISP should help you get the Internet connection working, or at least, they should provide you with the information you need to get it working.

Joining an Existing Wireless Network

If you are using a wireless connection on a corporate network, your wireless configuration can and should be managed by your network administrators. Your administrator will most likely install a security “certificate” file that will identify your computer as one authorized to use the wireless network. It’s also likely that you won’t need to—or be able to—change any settings to use the network.

Note

If the network you want to use doesn’t appear, it could be because the signal is too weak. Also, some people prevent their router from broadcasting the SSID name over the airwaves. 


However, if your home or small office wireless network has already been configured and you’re just adding a new computer, or if you are taking your computer into someone else’s office or home and want to use their wireless network, connect to and use the network by following this manual procedure:

1.
In the notification area, locate the network icon and click it.

2.
Windows displays a list of the names (SSIDs) of the wireless networks that it “hears.” Click the network you want to use and then click Connect.

3.
Windows determines what type of security the network is using. If the network is encrypted, it prompts you to enter the network key. Enter the passphrase or the 10- or 26-digit hexadecimal key that was used to set up the network to begin with.

4.
When the connection has been established, Windows will ask you to select a network location: Home, Work, or Public. 



After the wireless connections are made, you can continue setting up the rest of your network, as described in the following sections.

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