By Joseph Zhang
So your grandma came to visit — “What’s the Wi-Fi password?” “I don’t know, that Time Warner guy wrote it down somewhere, let me see if I can find it.” “Well, hurry up! Grandma needs to get on Instagram!” After 10 minutes of digging through that stack of paper that hasn’t been touched for God knows how many years, you find a coffee-stained piece of paper that says “linksys” and a bunch of gibberish under it.
Well, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Remember how every time you go to a coffee shop or Best Buy, pull out your phone and search for a Wi-Fi connection, it shows a list of wireless networks with names that actually make sense? This guide will show you how to do just that, customizing your home Wi-Fi’s SSID (broadcast name) and password. The whole process should take less than five minutes.
First, you need to go to your router’s control panel. If you don’t know what a router is, that’s okay; you won’t need to physically access your router in order to do this. So, grab your laptop and go to COMMAND PROMPT. If you have Windows 10, search “cmd” in that circle thing next to your start menu. If you have previous versions of Windows, either search or run “cmd” inside your start menu. If you have a Mac, best of luck to you… Jokes aside, you should be looking for something called “Terminal” on a Mac, but this guide is dedicated to Windows operating systems.
Now that you have opened up command prompt, type in “ipconfig /all” and hit Enter. You should see a list of info; feel free to pretend you are Hackerman for a second. What “ipconfig /all” does is display current TCP/IP network configurations. You need to find a section labeled as “Wireless LAN adapter Wi-Fi,” or something similar. Inside that section, find “Default Gateway.” Your default gateway should be something like “192.168.x.x”; copy that number or write it down, because you’ll need it for the next step.
Open up your browser (the thing you use to go to Google). In the address bar, up top where the url is, copy and paste your default gateway and hit Enter. Now you should be looking at an authentication page. The username and password are often factory defaults, depending on your router’s manufacturer. The most common ones are “admin” for both the username and password, and “admin” for username and “password” for password. Try these first, and if they don’t work, do a simple Google search. The last resort would be resetting your router or calling tech support.
After you have logged in, you should be looking at your wireless router’s control panel. Most modern routers have a control panel; even the lower-end ones should have one for basic configurations. If you are on this step, you are almost finished.
Inside the control panel, things are pretty straightforward. You can look through different tabs and change certain settings if you want to — just don’t mess with anything you aren’t sure about. Every manufacturer has its own control-panel interfaces; different models of routers from the same brand might have different interfaces, but they should be very similar.
What you are looking for are the wireless settings. For instance, since I have a Netgear router; the settings are under the “Wireless” tab. Once you go in, you should be able to simply change the SSID (name) and password by typing in a new one. More complex passwords are recommended, with upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Changing the default router login is also a good idea — you don’t have to, but you should if you know how. After you are done changing the settings, remember to click “Apply” or “Save.” The router will want to restart after that.
After the restart, you will lose internet connection on all of your wirelessly connected devices. Reconnect to your Wi-Fi as you normally would, except this time you are searching for the network you just named, with the password you just set up.
Customizing your wireless network’s SSID and password allows easier access for visitors, makes it easier for you to add a new device and enhances security. If you have a wireless network with no password and suspect your neighbor is leeching your network resources, follow this guide and set up a password ASAP.
Joseph Zhang is a member of the Information Technology Senior Seminar course and is planning on a career in the IT field. You can find an online version of this article at http://www.josephzhang.net/beacon-article