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Simple Steps to Upgrading Your Wireless Router

by on July 31, 2009
in Computers and Software, Internet & Networking :: 4 comments

Updated August 21, 2009 with instructional video

family with laptopThink of all of the devices you have hooked up to your wireless home network—computers, a printer, TiVo, a game system. Now think about reconnecting them all to a new wireless router. Does the thought make you wince? It shouldn’t. The time it takes is well worth it.

There are two reasons why you’d want to upgrade your wireless Wi-Fi router: speed and range. 802.11n, the latest Wi-Fi standard, delivers the highest speeds currently available, plus far greater range than older 802.11 b and 802.11g routers. So you will get a great connection, throughout your house and even into your yard or patio. And you don’t have to worry about compatibility, all types of Wi-Fi devices work with wireless n routers.

Cisco WRT400N Wireless N Router

Linksys by Cisco
WRT400N Wireless N Router

Installing your new router isn’t nearly as daunting as you might think. Here’s what you will need to begin: Your main PC or Mac, your modem from your cable, DSL or FiOS provider, your new router, and an Ethernet cable (one is usually included in the box).

The first thing you should do is install the software that comes with the router. This ensures that when you start connecting everything, it all works correctly. After you put the disc in your computer, follow the screen prompts.

The next step is to make sure you change the router’s name from the factory default to a name you choose. Most software will allow you to do this during setup. Creating a unique name is especially important if you live in a densely populated area, so you can easily identify which router is yours when connecting wireless devices.

Finally, you’ll want to enable the router’s built-in security. Again, using the included software, follow the onscreen prompts to turn on security and set the security key.

You can choose from WEP, or Wired Equivalency Privacy, and WPA, or Wi-Fi Protected Access. Use WEP if you have older wireless products connecting to your network. If everything you use is more up to date and supports WPA, though, choose WPA, which is the most secure option.

Make sure you make a note of your key or passcode for installing new wireless devices. And if you use the same type of security (WEP or WPA), router name and security key as your old wireless network, most of your wireless devices should find your new router automatically.

If they don’t, try restarting them and then manually reconnecting them to the network, if necessary. To connect a device manually, you’ll need the name of your network, the type of security, your security key and the instruction manual for your device. If you don’t have the manual, you can usually find it on the device manufacturer’s website or retrevo.com. If not, then look for the “set up” or “settings” option on your device, and then look for “network” or “wireless set up” and follow the instructions.

Setting up a new router for your home network should put an end to those frustrating weak signals and provide you with a much greater range for your network. And although it requires a little bit of your time, it’s actually quite simple.


Discussion loading

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From kpk on August 05, 2009 :: 9:08 pm

Not to sound overly techie, or even that I know too much about this subject, but my research has led me to believe that WPA2 rather than the older WPA is the most secure wireless protocol.

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From Josh Kirschner on August 22, 2009 :: 9:00 pm

Yes, you are correct.  We were referring to WPA generally, but WPA2 is the most secure version.  Some routers will also have an option for WPA-AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), which is nearly as secure as WPA2.

In practice, home users will be fine going with WPA or WPA2.  They are both more than secure enough to thwart even extremely agressive hacking scenarios.  And if you have older devices on your network, as in this upgrade scenario, WPA2 may not be supported.

We appreciate the feedback!

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From Shofia on December 20, 2010 :: 7:17 am

Josh,

Hope you did networking with given Cisco WRT400N Nrouter.

This router has been nothing but trouble since I installed it one month ago. I had to call their support line several times to get laptops or PS3 to connect. The tech line was extremely helpful but the amount of changes they had to make to get my wireless devices to work was unbelievable. Now the router is constantly disconnecting and I have to unplug it and plug it back in.

I just check the solution online and get this post. So do please help me about this problem and how can i use it smoothly?

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@shofia It's very difficult to

From Josh Kirschner on December 23, 2010 :: 12:33 pm

@shofia It’s very difficult to diagnose network problems without knowing all of the details of your settings.  And the WRT400 is an old model, so perhaps returning it to the store is the best answer.

But here are some things you may want to try:
- Make sure you have the most up to date firmware.  You should be able to update it through the router management program that came with the router.
- Try changing your security setting from WEP to WPA (or vice versa)
- Try switching off ‘n” and run it just on “g”
- reset the router to its original factory settings and try again with my tips.  It may be that tech support changed something that is causing the disconnects.

If all that still fails, and tech support has no other solutions, it may just be better to get a new router.  I’ve had problems like this myself in the past, and sometimes it’s the router hardware that’s the issue.

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