If you can turn on a computer, setting up a wireless router for the first time should take only 10 or 15 minutes. Most wireless routers come with a lot of complex features that most people don't necessarily need -- like restricting websites or blocking computers at certain hours of the day. While it's a good idea to explore what your new router can do, the most essential things are to connect to the Internet and password-protect your network. Don't be alarmed if you don't see an antenna for your router. Most models today have the antenna built inside.
Examine the components that came with the wireless router and read the documentation. Models vary, but most wireless routers come with a network cable and a power adapter.
Choose a central location to place the wireless router. Large metal objects can interfere with the wireless signal, so it's best not to put it near a filing cabinet or heating ducts. Place it high, for example on top of a bookshelf.
Connect the AC adapter to a wall outlet and plug it into the router.
Connect the network cable to the back of the router. If there is more than one port, use the one that is labelled "Internet" or "WAN." Connect the other end of the cable to the back of your high-speed or DSL modem.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions to set up the router's software on your computer. Software is usually included on a CD, DVD or on a USB flash drive. Many routers can be set up without installing software. To do this, connect a network cable from your computer to any free, numbered port on the back of the router. Open a Web browser and type the router's network address in the browser address bar, such as "192.168.1.1" (Linksys and 3Com) or "192.168.0.1" (D-Link and Netgear), without the quotes.
Change the administrative password on the router admin panel to something you can remember but will be difficult for anyone else to guess. By default most routers use "admin" or "password" for the password. Write down the password in a secure location.
Enable Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA or WPA2) on the router, usually located in the security settings of the router's administration panel. Select a password that is easy for you to remember but difficult for anyone else to guess, and write the password in a secure location. This encrypts all data sent over your wireless network and prevents anyone without the password from connecting to your network.
Disconnect your computer's network cable from the wireless router. Click the "Network" icon in the bottom-right corner of the Windows desktop. Select your wireless router and click "Connect." Enter the wireless password when prompted to connect to the wireless network, which in turn connects you to the Internet.
- Failing to password protect your wireless network makes it relatively easy for others to access your Internet connection and to access personal information on your computers.
- Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images