Securing your WI-Fi connections is an important element of securing your personal data. You want your equipment and your data that is stored on that equipment to be protected from outside sources. Consider when you are setting up your network to purchase equipment that is able to use WPA2tm which provides both security (controlling who connects to your network) and prvacy (the transmissions cannot be read by others) for communications that move across the network. Remember, the security level or a network is determined by the least capable device. So if you have older wireless equipment consider updating your equipment with devices that are capable of WPA2tm.
Most Wi-Fi equipment is shipped with security disabled to make in easier to set up or connect to your network, Most new routers/wireless access points will walk you though your initial security setup and you have to force it not to do this to shut it off. It is very simple to set up and always pick the best overall protection that is suggested by the manufacturer. Change your SSID to a different name to differentiate from all the default units that are out there clogging up the airways. Make sure that you change the default administrative credentials as well (login and password). Though they make my job easier coming in to help you as a service person, it also makes it extremely easy for anyone to connect and make changes if you leave them with the defaults. Be sure to document what you did because otherwise you will have to reset everything back to factory defaults to and reset the connections if you forget.
The Wi-Fi Alliance has produced a short video (below), that provides a humorous and informative reasoning for setting up your network securely using WPA2tm. It is so important to lock things down so be sure that you are providing a secure safe access for your family in your home. (Download White Papers from WI=Fi Alliance)
The performance of a Wi-Fi home network greatly depends on signal strength of the wireless router or wireless access point (base station).
If a given wireless client falls out of range of the base station signal, obviously that network connection will fail or "drop." Clients situated near the edge of the network range will likely experience intermittent dropped connections. But even when a wireless client stays within range consistently, its network performance can still be adversely affected by distance,obstructions, or interference.
To position your wireless equipment for optimal network performance, follow these guidelines:
- First and foremost, don't settle prematurely on a location for the wireless access point or router. Experiment; try placing the device in several different promising locations. While trial-and-error may not be the most scientific way to find a good spot for your equipment, it is often the only practical way to assure the best possible Wi-Fi performance.
- Strive to install the wireless access point or router in a central location. If you have only one wireless client, installing the base station near this client is best. For WLANs with multiple wireless clients, find a good compromise position. Clients too far away from the base station will manage only 10% - 50% the bandwidth of clients nearby to it. You might need to sacrifice the network performance of one client for the good of the others.
- Next, avoid physical obstructions whenever possible. Any barriers along the "line of sight" between client and base station will degrade a Wi-Fi radio signal. Plaster or brick walls tend to have the most negative impact, but really any obstruction including cabinets or furniture will weaken the signal to some degree. Obstructions tend to reside closer to floor level; therefore, some folks prefer to install their wireless access point / router on or near the ceiling.
Avoid reflective surfaces whenever possible. Some Wi-Fi signals literally bounce off of windows, mirrors, metal file cabinets and stainless steel countertops, lessening both network range and performance.
- Install the wireless access point or router at least 1 m (3 feet) away from other home appliances that send wireless signals in the same frequency range. Such appliances include some microwave ovens, cordless telephones, baby monitors, and home automation equipment like X-10 devices. Any appliance that transmits in the same general range as802.11b or 802.11g (2.4 GHz) can generate interference.
- Likewise, install the unit away from electrical equipment that also generates interference. Avoid electric fans, other motors, and fluorescent lighting.
- If the best location you find is only marginally acceptable, consider adjusting the base station antennas to improve performance. Antennas on wireless access points and routers can usually be rotated or otherwise re-pointed to "fine tune" Wi-Fi signaling. Follow the specific manufacturer's recommendations for best results.
If using these guidelines you still cannot find a suitable location for your wireless gear, there are alternatives. You can, for example, replace and upgrade the base station antenna. You can also install a Wi-Fi repeater (often called a "range extender" or "signal booster.") Finally, in extreme cases, you may need to configure a second base station to extend the range of your WLAN.
eg. My home is one of the worst situations that I could have put myself in to create a strong environment. My first problem is that I live in a multi-level home that has a lot of brick on its outer walls and cement block surrounding the lover levels. I have a slate floor in the kitchen (this is a problem that I will explain later) and in the summer I need WiFi access in a greater than 150 foot area when I include the outdoor areas that we spend a lot of time in. My home office is in a wonderful little sunroom that sticks out away from the house so because the modem/router is located in this area I am feeding all my network and wireless access starting from this area. I ended up placing a second access point in a location that covers the second level bedrooms, mid-level living room and kitchen. The office unit covers the screened in porch and about half of the pool area outside. It is almost perfect but I could almost use a repeater to fully cover the pool area to bring it completely back into the network with speed and coverage. This took awhile to setup where I am now and you will find that you will want to work things out based on how you plan to use wireless access in your environment.
Let us know if you have any questions, I will be very happy to discuss your needs with your as any or our technicians can.