How To – Wireless Internet Routers

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    Wired or Wireless, that is a question for many homes as we go from dialup modems and a single shared computer to everyone having their own computer and wanting to do their own thing online.

    Today the best wireless routers are multi-band gigabit routers and they can provide great connectivity for local networking and internet access.

    With duel Band or Multi Band technology you can assign traffic to different computers or devices. This means your media center or game box can run on one channel and your internet access can be on its own channel. This frees up bandwidth and should improve your network transfer.

    Eventually whatever we have today will be outdated but there are some concerns we should take a look at.

    Options you should look for include 
    QoS Prioritization Technologythis will give priority to special applications that are sensitive to connectivity delays. VOIP phone services Multimedia Video Streaming and Online Gaming are a few.

    Shared Port or USB connectivity will allow the Router to act as a Printer Server for the network or allow you to add a remote hard drive for data sharing.

    Multiband Technology allows independent networks from the same device.

    Backward Compatibilitywill allow older devices to connect to the network. This is good for laptops with internal wifi or just so you don’t need to upgrade everything all at once.

    Antenna Upgrades Some devices only allow a molded non removable antenna that can not be upgraded to a more powerful one

    Although Wireless connections are suppose to be pretty stable within the same home or office standard radio frequency problems will occur causing dropped or flakey signals. In some instances working on 2 levels of the same home can be harder to connect then connecting to your neighbors Wifi router down the street, a security problem we will look at next.

    So, what can you do if you have a laptop that you like to take downstairs but you just can’t get a good signal? Well you have a couple choices.You can install a wireless signal repeater. You could add another router and connect both by a wire. You could install a remote antenna by running a wire from one of your antenna jacks to an antenna you have downstairs. You could install a larger antenna on both your laptop and the router or you could simply give up on wireless and move to wired.

    The fact is if you have wireless and it works then it can be great but if you have a problem getting a signal then its not worth anything.

    Although Wireless Routers can use an encrypted protocol to scramble your data and there are ways of limiting access to your network by MAC Address (an ID specific to each computer) there are ways to hack into every network.

    For this reason you should always think twice about installing wireless where you have important data. For instance you probably shouldn’t install it at any business where you process credit cards or other sensitive data. Many businesses (stores, banks) have already been sued just for allowing open access and not realizing it. You may also want to think twice about installing wireless if you live in an apartment or in a location where the signal could be picked up from anyplace off of your own property. The practice of War-Driving is where a hacker drives around with a laptop and gains access to networks with sniffer and can opener hacking programs. The process is not that sophisticated and can be accomplished by any 14 year old that has a older friend with a car to drive him around.

    Hopefully that scares you enough to think twice about WiFi and implementing every security option that your manufacturer provides but remember you must keep up on your network security because there are always new ways to gain access.

    You should also remeber if your router resets it will be in default mode and just like it was when you took it out of the box it will be insecure until you access the setup and modify the security features. 

    Final Note 
    Wifi is a great resource for most of us but in exchange for the conveinence of not having to run wires it does require that you think more about your Security.  

    Most routers come with a very easy to use Webpage type interface and instructions on how to implement security on your network.

    For more information see our HowTos on Networking and Antennas.

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