Monthly Archives: January 2017

Steps to set up Wireless Network Connection in Windows 7/8/10

Wireless networks allow you to work independently – without the tension of plugging in long wires that not only look bad in the house, but also are a safety hazard. Since wireless signals travel in all directions and travel fast, you can use wireless network to work from your bedroom or from the porch of your home. This article explains how to set up wireless network connection in Windows 7/8/10.

Inventory Required To Set Up Wireless Network Connection
Since we are talking of a complete wireless network, we need the following items to set up wireless network connection:

An operating system that supports wireless networking. Windows 7 is a good operating system that allows you to create wireless networks without any problems. If you intend to use Windows XP, make sure you have Service Pack 3. Similarly for Windows Vista, you will need Vista Service Pack 2
A fast Internet connection: You can go for either a DSL or a cable broadband. In most cases, the cable or DSL router (see point 3 below) is provided by the ISP who also sets up Internet connection. Normally, the connection from wall jack (in case of DSL) and from hub (in case of cable) is wired to the router from where, wireless signals take over for communication

A wireless router: Since we need a wireless network, we will need a wireless router. Check to see if your ISP can give you one. If not, you can get wireless router from any computer market. Make sure you buy a reputed product for better results. Routers are available in different technologies. I suggest 802.11g or 802.11n for better connectivity and good signals. Routers using the mentioned technologies are more compatible with network adaptors of different companies. Make sure that you are buying a wireless router and not a wireless access points. The latter is used to expand existing wired networks and does not serve the purpose of wireless routers.
Wireless Adaptors: Most computers now come with built-in wireless adaptors. They are usually towards the front of laptops and computers and carry a switch that you can turn on and off to enable and disable network connectivity. If your computer does not have one, you can buy wireless adaptors from a computer store. I suggest that you buy USB wireless adaptors as they are quick and easy to install. Also, you can use them with different computers unlike the card type adaptors that need to be installed on the motherboards. Also, when buying wireless network adaptors, make sure they match the network technology of the router you are using in the network. That is, if you are using 802.11n router, your network adaptors should also be 802.11n. This ensures better connectivity.
To check if your computer has wireless network adaptors, proceed with the following steps:

Open Control Panel
Double click Network And Sharing (available under Network and Internet if you are using Category view)
In the left pane, click on Manage Network Adaptors
If your computer has a wireless network adaptor, it will show you a network icon saying Wireless Network Connection.

Figure 1

Setting Up Internet Connection

Most of the ISPs set up Internet connection when you take a new connection. If your ISP did not set up Internet for you, follow these steps (assumes your modem includes wireless router):

Plug one end of the phone wire into the phone jack provided on the router’s back
Plug the other end of phone wire into wall jack of phone connection. If you are using a splitter, connect this end of phone wire into the splitter socket that says DSL. You can then use another phone wire to connect the splitter to wall jack of phone
Plug the router into electrical socket.
Turn on your main computer that you will use to set up admin privileges.
Open Control Panel. If it is not in the Icon view, switch to the Icon view.
Click Network And Sharing Center
Below View Your Active Networks, click Setup A New Connection or Network
Double click Connect To Internet and follow the steps in the Wizard

If your modem is different from wireless router, you will need to connect phone wire – one end into modem and another end into phone jack or splitter. You can then connect the modem to wireless router using a network cable. You can then follow the steps 4 to 7 mentioned above. It should look somewhat like the image below.

At this point, your main computer should be able to connect to the Internet. If it is not connecting to the Internet, the connections must be wrong. Check the Network and Sharing window in Control Panel to see if Windows 7 is able to detect the wireless network (see figure 1 above). If not, make sure the modem/router are properly connected and switched on.

Securing The Network

Assuming that the main computer is now able to connect to the Internet, we will go ahead and configure the network for security.

Click the Network icon in Windows system tray
Click Open Network And Sharing
Click Setup A New Connection Or Network
Double click Setup A New Network
The wizard will walk you through a series of steps to configure your network
If your router supports WPA2, the wizard will show it in the list under Security Level. Set the Security Type to AES. Type a password under Security Key and click Next
Copy the security key to some safe place so that you can use it when setting up other computers in the network. You will also need it later when you wish to make changes to the network

Setting Up Other Computers On The Network
Click the Network icon in the Windows System Tray
Select your network (recognized by the name you provided in the wizard above)
Windows will ask you for the password. Enter the password you saved in step 7 above.

Setting Up Sharing On The Network
You have to turn on sharing on all computers, including the ones having devices such as printers and scanners so that you can use them from any computer on the network. The following applies to each computer on the network

Click the Network icon
Click Open Network and Sharing Center
Click Choose Homegroup and Sharing Options. A wizard will walk you through setting up sharing for files and devices attached to the computer.
Note that you can share files by copying them into Public folder in Windows 7. The Public folder is available in C:\Users folder.

This explains how to set up wireless network connection in Windows 7/8/10. If you face any problems, we will be happy to assist. Just drop a note in the comments stating the problem and your version of Windows.

Tips To Increase WiFi Speed, Signal Strength and Coverage Area

A normal WiFi should be able to cover all of your home or office so that you can use it from anywhere and on any devices such as laptops and phones. Not often do you get to use the optimal signal strength of your wireless network. This could be due to various factors I’ve listed below. This article offers assistance to extend the area covered by WiFi signals.

Increase WiFi Speed
Follow these steps to improve, boost, extend or increase Wi-Fi router signal and range at home or work place, without spending anything.

Extend WiFi Signal Area with Better Placement of Router
One of the most important things to think when designing a wireless network is to decide where to keep the router. You would want all corners of your house or office covered so that people can use it from anywhere. For that, you have to check the optimal place for the router. To do this, draw a rough layout of your house on paper. See where and how many walls and other things act as obstructions.

If your router is placed in an inside room and you want to use it outside in the porch, you may not get the wireless signals as the waves are killed by all those walls and furniture etc. between the router and your porch.

Adjust Obstacles for Flow of Signal Strength
Other than wall, things like your almirahs, water coolers and mirrors etc. weakens and even kill the WiFi signals moving that way. Almirahs are mostly metals that may prevent signals from crossing over through the unit. Water dampens signals of 2.4GHz for some reasons. This is the usual frequency used by wireless routers and even other wireless things at your home. Mirrors have a special coating towards the back that absorb signals of that frequency (2.4GHz).

Just check out if they can be removed from the invisible straight line between your router and the place you wish to use a WiFi device. If yes, you can adjust the items to make it clearer and easier for the wireless signals to pass through. Breaking down walls will further ease signal flow but I won’t suggest doing that to increase signal range! Instead, we’ll talk about repeaters to provide for signal strength loss when they travel through walls.

Remove Other Wireless Devices
As said earlier, the WiFi signals travel at 2.4GHz. I do not know exactly how, but some routers do provide an option of changing the frequency to 5GHz. If you can do that (check your router settings in a browser), nothing can beat that. But if there is no option in the router, try to minimize wireless devices around the router and wireless device you are using on WiFi. Almost all household appliances – including the wireless mouse, wireless printers, and even microwave ovens – run at the said frequency of 2.4GHz. Since you need these devices and cannot get rid of them, just make sure there is minimum interference among all these smart appliances.

Omnidirectional vs. Unidirectional Antennas
In the case of the first layout in the image above, if the antenna is omnidirectional, it is wasting half of your WiFi signals by sending them out of the house. In such cases, go for unidirectional antennas. You may combine unidirectional antennas with repeaters to get better WiFi signal strength in other rooms that lie on the other side of the direction set by unidirectional antennas.

Use Repeaters To Increase WiFi Range
Some people place the repeaters just at the point where the original wave frequency is very low. That setup, though fine, will not provide you with strong enough signals. Keep the repeaters in the zone and where the signal strengths are still a little strong. That way you can boost WiFi signals to extend its range.

Upgrade Network Cards and Router
WiFi works fine when the router and network cards are of the same type. At the time of writing this article (May 7, 2014), Wireless N is considered best. Routers and network cards are not much expensive. There are many companies selling them under $100 while network cards are somewhere between $30 and $50 (as published on Cisco site). If you are willing to spend money, upgrade to a better network and see how the change increases your WiFi network coverage area.

Tips to Improve Wireless Network Signal on Windows 10/8/7

When wireless network goes weak, things go slow and/or you get disconnected too often. You already know how irritating it is to work on a network with weak signals. 10/8/7 notifies you when the signal strength is weak. But what are the steps you can take to improve the wireless network signal or reception?

Improve Wireless Network Speed
How can you improve wireless network signal? Here are some tips that will help.

Place Your Wireless Router or Access Point At A Central Location

You need to check out the central point of the wireless network you have installed in your home and place the wireless router accordingly. If your house consists of two floors and you wish to access the network from any of the floor, you may want to place the router on top of a shelf so that both floors get proper signals. Similarly, check out what all rooms will be using the router and place the router in a place from where, each of the room are more or less at an equal distance.

If you place the router in a corner room, you will get good signals in that room but the room to the other corner of the house may receive weak signals. Also, in this case, most of the signals will move out of the house and you need to password protect the network so that others don’t start using it.

Remove Obstructions If Possible

While you cannot move the house walls, you can move other obstacles to wireless signals. These include metal shelves, almirahs etc. You also need to move away the router from the external walls, that is, the walls marking the external limits of house. Metal items will obstruct the path of wireless signals as the signals travel in a straight line and do not have the capability to bend at obstructions. Placing the signals towards the outer walls will give away most of the signal strength to your neighbors.

Use A High Gain Antenna

The default antenna that comes with different router models are omni-directional. This means that they send signals into all the directions. In such cases, if your router is placed towards the outer walls, half the signals go outside the home. If it is a detachable antenna, replace it with high gain antenna to improve wireless signal. A high gain antenna allows you to focus the signals at the angles you want.

Stop Using Card Based Adaptors In Computers

If your laptop or computer has built-in wireless networking capability, it is fine. If not, and you are using card based wireless network adaptors, chances are that your PCs won’t be able to “talk back” with the router. This means that though your router sends signals of good strength to your computers, the card based wireless network adaptors do not have the functionality to send back signals of proper strength. For wireless networks to function properly, both the router and computers should be able to communicate properly. I suggest replacing the card based wireless adaptors with USB wireless network adaptors. Another benefit of using USB wireless network adaptors is that they employ high gain antenna that will improve your wireless network.

Use A Wireless Repeater

Just as the radio stations use a repeater at regular distances to intercept weak signals and boost them before sending them forward, you can use wireless repeaters in your home network. The purpose of using wireless repeaters is to pick up weak signals and send them into a particular direction after boosting the signal strength. This will not only allow for improving the network strength, it also helps in expanding the network to a wider area.

Upgrade The Firmware Of Router And Adaptors

Vendors of routers and adaptors keep on updating the firmware related to their products. The updates are available on the vendors’ websites. Make it a habit to check out these websites for updates at regular intervals. If you find any updates to your devices, upgrade them. This will not only enhance your products’ performance, it also improves the security provided by the product.

Move to 802.11n

Most of the network devices are built around 802.11g technology. 802.11n technology is here and offers faster speeds with better stability. Consider moving to 802.11n by replacing your older router and network adaptors. Also, when buying equipment, buy all of them from a single vendor for better performance.