How to Make Your Home Wi-Fi More Reachable and Secure
Without any doubt, the word Wi-Fi or Wireless Network is a very common term nowadays.
Why? Simple – because it's everywhere!
In our homes, in offices, in Hotels, in Playing Fields, in Airports etc.
We just can't live without Wi-Fi in today's modern world. Having access to Internet through Wi-Fi has become one of the most essential things in our day-to-day lives.
And we have to admit that it made the lives of 'Internet lovers' much easier because it gives access to the World Wide Web, Social Media etc. from virtually anywhere.
Today we are going to help you improve your Home Wi-Fi reachability and we will be assisting you in securing it properly. In our opinion, these are two of the most fundamental aspects with a Home Wi-Fi.
Before we start our guide on Wi-Fi Reach, it's important to keep in mind that we can never guarantee that by using our tips and the suggested devices, you will have a perfectly working Wi-Fi in your house.
No one guarantees it.
The reason being that every house is different – building materials used, number of rooms, interferences etc. So, basically, it's a case of 'Trial and Error'.
Having said that, we are confident that by using our guide and the suggested devices, you will surely improve your Wi-Fi experience.
If, after following our suggestions, you still aren't satisfied with the Wi-Fi performance, then we can come to your house to perform a site survey and provide you with a no obligation quotation accordingly.
Wi-Fi Reach in Your Home
We've all been through this problem and most probably; some of you still have it.
But don't worry – we are here to help!
We are going to outline everything that you need in order to, hopefully, have a fully reachable Wi-Fi within your Home.
There are various factors to consider when setting up a Home Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi performance and reach can be affected mainly by:
- how big your house is
- the type of materials used in the building (bricks etc.)
- the amount of rooms that the Wi-Fi signal must go through
- other appliances / gadgets that may be interfering with the Wi-Fi signal
Improving Wi-Fi Reach in Standard to Medium Houses
Let us start with the simplest of them all!
If you have a single floor house with just a few rooms, then you don't have many problems. All you need is a Wi-Fi Router (if your ISP's Modem doesn't have a built-in Router) and maybe one Range Extender, depending on how good the Wi-Fi Router is and on the building materials.
Our recommendation for excellent Wi-Fi Routers is definitely TP-Link. Based on our experience with setting up Wi-Fis, TP-Link manufactures some of the best Wi-Fi Routers around.
And they are quite cheap as well. A mid-range Home Wi-Fi Router like the TL-WR941ND Wireless N Router below will cost approximately €30.00.
As you can see from the image above, the TL-WR941ND comes with 3 Antennas, which will make the Wi-Fi more accessible from devices located far away from the Router.
If the signal from the TL-WR941ND Wi-Fi Router or any other Router you might have is not reaching all the rooms in your house, then, a Range Extender will be necessary.
When choosing a Range Extender, TP-Link should also be your choice.
A TL-WA850RE Wi-Fi Range Extender like the one below costs approximately €23.00 only and it will help you extend your Wi-Fi range to unreachable rooms.
It's important to note that TP-Link Range Extenders work seamlessly with most major Routers and not with TP-Link Routers only. We can vouch for this because we have installed these Range Extenders with a large variety of different Routers and they have always worked flawlessly.
The above Wi-Fi Router and Range Extender will most probably be enough for a larger house with more than one floor as well.
However, like we said earlier, you have to test them to make sure your Wi-Fi is reachable from everywhere. For example, if the house is large and has several rooms, then two or more Range Extenders might be required instead of one.
If the house is built with bricks, then you have much less problems because the Wi-Fi signal passes through bricks quite easily.
If you have a House of Character that was built many years ago, setting up Wi-Fi will prove a bit more difficult due to the thick walls used in the old days because the signal will not pass so easily.
But that doesn't mean there isn't a solution – there always is 😊
Improving Wi-Fi Reach in Very Large Houses or Houses of Character
For Houses of Character or very large houses, Wi-Fi Range Extenders are not the ideal solution.
Obviously, you will still use the Wi-Fi Router; but to extend the range throughout the house you will need to use a technology called Powerline Networking, also known as HomePlug.
What is Powerline Networking?
Powerline Networking uses the electrical wiring in your house to create a network and transmit digital data. It requires no new wiring or drilling and the network adds no cost to your electricity bill.
When selecting Powerline Networking, you have two options. You can either use the Powerline Ethernet Adapters or the Wi-Fi Powerline Extenders.
The first thing that you should know is that both Powerline Ethernet Adapters and Wi-Fi Powerline Extender Starter Kits come in packs of two. After purchasing the Starter Kits, you can then purchase single Adapters to extend your network.
So, you might be asking – what’s the difference between Powerline Ethernet Adapters and Wi-Fi Powerline Extenders?
Simple – Powerline Ethernet Adapters are wired devices while Wi-Fi Powerline Extenders are wireless devices and can also be wired, if needs be.
Therefore, if you opt for Powerline Ethernet Adapters, then you have to connect an Ethernet Cable from the Powerline Adapter to your computer etc. in order to have Internet. On the other hand, with Wi-Fi Powerline Extenders, there’s no need to connect an Ethernet Cable because they provide Wireless Networking.
Let us help you understand better how they both work.
The diagram below features a Powerline Ethernet Adapter Starter Kit:
As you can see, one Adapter is connected to the Power outlet near the Router and to the Router via an Ethernet Cable. The other Adapter is connected to the Power outlet and to the TV via an Ethernet Cable.
So, data is transferred from the Adapter installed near the Router to the Adapter in the TV room through the electrical wiring found between the rooms.
Like we said before, if you need Internet in other rooms, you need to purchase additional Adapters accordingly. You don’t need Starter Kits again – just single Adapters that will then configure themselves with the Starter Kit you installed the first time.
The next diagram features Wi-Fi Powerline Extenders:
In this configuration, you have a Powerline Ethernet Adapter (marked as TL-PA4010 in the diagram), which is the main device that is used to connect to the Router via an Ethernet Cable, and two Wi-Fi Powerline Extenders (marked as TL-WPA4220 in the diagram), which are the wireless devices that get Internet from the main device (TL-PA4010) through the electrical wiring and transmit it wirelessly to the devices in the other rooms.
As you can see, the TL-WPA4220 Extenders can also be connected to devices via an Ethernet Cable if required.
Do you remember when we said Powerline Starter Kits come in packs of two?
In the first diagram, one Kit is used and it’s made up of 2 x TL-PA4010 Powerline Ethernet Adapters.
In the second diagram, we can see a Wi-Fi Powerline Extender Starter Kit made up of 1 x TL-PA4010 (wired) and 1 x TL-WPA4220 (wireless), plus an additional TL-WPA4220 purchased as a single Adapter.
To give you an idea about pricing, the Starter Kit used in the first diagram is the TP-Link TL-PA411KIT AV500 Nano Powerline Adapter Starter Kit and its price is approximately €36.00. Additional single Adapters cost about €28.00 each.
AV500 refers to the HomePlug AV standard and it provides up to 500Mbps high speed data transmission over a home’s existing electrical wiring.
The Starter Kit used in the second diagram is the TP-Link TL-WPA4220KIT 300Mbps AV500 Wi-Fi Powerline Extender Starter Kit and its price is approximately €60.00. Additional TL-WPA4220 single Adapters will cost you about €40.00 each.
These Wi-Fi Powerline Extenders, apart from the AV500 HomePlug AV standard just like the TL-PA411KIT, also provide wireless connections with a speed of 300Mbps.
Yes, compared to Wi-Fi Range Extenders like the one we mentioned earlier, Powerline Kits are slightly more expensive.
Nevertheless, for Houses of Character or very large houses, it’s the best possible solution if you want smooth and hassle-free Internet in all the rooms.
Obviously, you can always opt to run Ethernet Cables through your walls. However, unless you plan to remodel your house soon, running cables through your walls usually isn’t practical and Powerline Kits are certainly cheaper than taking your walls apart to run wires.
Also, if you decide to run Ethernet Cables through your walls, you would still need Wi-Fi Access Points in your rooms (you might require one in each room, depending on the type of walls you have) in order to provide Wireless Internet in the rooms.
A Wi-Fi Access Point is a more robust version of a Range Extender – it receives data from the Router via an Ethernet Cable and transmits it wirelessly to devices that are in range.
A good Wi-Fi Access Point like the TP-Link TL-WA901ND costs approximately €35.00.
As you can see, if you don’t plan to remodel your house, it’s more practical to choose Powerline Kits for a few additional Euros. It will save you the hassle of taking your walls apart to run wires and your rooms will be Internet-ready within a couple of minutes!
Ok – so, we’ve covered all aspects of how to make your home Wi-Fi more reachable and also, included some recommended devices.
Now, to the fun part – or not?! 😜 Wi-Fi Security!
Well, it may be fun for us Techies but a bit difficult for Non-Tech savvy people.
One thing is for sure though – fun or not, Wi-Fi Security is extremely important and it should always be implemented.
For those of you who find it difficult securing their Wi-Fi – worry not; we are going to explain how to do it and you will realize it’s not that difficult.
Repercussions Of Not Having a Secure Wi-Fi
Before starting our Wi-Fi Security guide, let’s take a few moments to outline the repercussions of not having a secure Wi-Fi.
If your Wi-Fi is left fully unsecured, anyone within the range of your Router can just hop on and enjoy the free Wi-Fi. Given that in this configuration no password is required to connect to the Wi-Fi, people that are within range can just connect and use your Wi-Fi / Internet.
What does this mean?
Well, for starters, it means that those people connecting to your free Wi-Fi are using your Internet Bandwidth and therefore, if there are many connected at the same time, you will experience a decline in the Internet performance.
Although a decline in the Internet performance is surely a burden, it’s not the worse thing that could happen in an unsecured Wi-Fi!
An unsecured Wi-Fi is the most vulnerable network of all.
All traffic that does not otherwise use an encryption protocol, such as HTTPS, will be sent in the clear. This network is easy to sniff, spoof and otherwise manipulate to the benefit of even very inexperienced attackers, also known as hackers.
Nowadays, everyone knows what hackers can do once they infiltrate your network. This is just a small list of what hackers might do if they compromise your network:
- Delete or steal your personal data; including documents, pictures, etc.
- Steal Credit Card and/or other Banking details / information.
- Put a virus in your system, which may also spread to other users connected to your Wi-Fi.
- Make your Operating System useless, which can only be repaired by formatting the PC / Laptop (and in most cases, you will lose all the data if you don’t have a backup).
- Access other PCs, Laptops etc. that are in your network; i.e. connected to your Wi-Fi.
Not nice, huh? Are we going to leave our Wi-Fis unsecured? Definitely not.
How to Secure a Wireless Network (And The Router Itself!)
Securing your Wi-Fi is not a daunting task and it shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes.
We are going to explain how to do it on a TP-Link Router but, basically, all other Routers have the same settings / configurations. So it’s more or less the same way.
Furthermore, all Routers come with a User Guide that describes how to setup and configure the Router.
When configuring the Wi-Fi Router for the first time, it is recommended that you connect your PC or Laptop directly to one of the Ethernet ports on the Router with an Ethernet cable. After configuring the Router, you can disconnect the cable and connect with the Router wirelessly.
When connecting your PC or Laptop directly to the Router, make sure that the Ethernet Adapter on the PC or Laptop is configured to “Obtain an IP address automatically” and to “Obtain DNS server address automatically”, as shown below.
To check this, go to Network and Sharing Center, click on Change adapter settings, right-click on Local Area Connection and select Properties. Then, select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and click Properties.
Now that we’ve connected our PC or Laptop directly to the Router and made sure that DHCP is enabled, as per the above diagram, it’s time to use the Router’s Web-based Utility.
To access the Router’s Web-based Utility, open a web browser and either type in the Router’s IP Address (192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 in most cases) or, given that we’re configuring a TP-Link Router, type http://tplinkwifi.net in the address field of the browser and press Enter.
Like we said before, all of this information can be obtained by reading the Router’s User Guide.
As soon as you press Enter, you will be provided with a Login window for the Router. Usually, the User Name and Password is admin for both. However, always check the User Guide to make sure.
After logging in, you will be provided with various configuration settings, as shown below.
We will not be going through all of them given that it’s not the purpose of this blog post. Instead, we are going to focus on Wireless Security.
However, before discussing the Wireless Security option, there is a setting that we feel should advise you about -- the Router’s default Login credentials (User Name and Password).
We strongly recommend that, before doing anything else, the first thing that you should do when logging into the Router’s Web-based Utility is change these default credentials from admin / admin (may be different, depending on the Router’s brand) to other, more difficult to guess credentials.
You might be asking “Why”?
Here's why: anyone connected to your Wi-Fi can type in the Router’s IP address and login to the Router’s Web-based Utility like you did, by guessing the default credentials found on Routers.
Then, he / she can change all the settings and you might even find yourself unable to connect to your own Wi-Fi if, for example, he / she changes the Wi-Fi Password!
Obviously, if this happens, you can always Reset the Router to its default factory settings (by pressing the “Reset” switch found at the back of the Router) and start from scratch.
But isn’t it better to avoid this hassle in the first place?
Furthermore, it’s very important that the Password is not configured the same as the Wi-Fi Password that you will configure later on, because it will be easier for someone to access the Router’s Web-based Utility if he / she already knows the Wi-Fi Password.
Someone with malicious intentions, such as a hacker, will first try the default credentials that are normally found on Routers and if these are unsuccessful, the next guess that he / she will try is the Wi-Fi Password!
To change the default credentials on a TP-Link Router, you must go to System Tools > Password.
Source: Kaspersky Lab
From here, you type in the “Old” (default) User Name and Password and then the “New” (more secure!) User Name and Password. As soon as you do this, the Router will refresh and ask you to enter the New credentials in order to continue your configuration.
On other Routers it may be slightly different than as shown above, so you should always check the Router’s User Manual.
And now it’s time for Wireless Security.
To configure Wi-Fi Security on a TP-Link Router, you must go to Wireless > Wireless Security. Here, you are provided with 3 options:
- WPA/WPA2 – Personal
- WPA/WPA2 – Enterprise
As you can see below, the recommended option for a Home Wi-Fi is WPA/WPA2 – Personal.
Source: Kaspersky Lab
WPA/WPA2 – Enterprise is generally used in an Office environment and WEP is not as reliable as WPA2 encryption.
If you want to learn more about these encryptions, check out the difference between WEP, WPA and WPA2 Wi-Fi Passwords.
When you purchase a new Router, Wireless Security is disabled by default. So, to enable / configure Wireless Security, we are going to click on the radio button WPA/WPA2 – Personal.
The Version can either be left Automatic (as set by default) or you can choose WPA-PSK (Pre-shared key of WPA) or WPA2-PSK from the drop-down list. The Pre-shared key is the Wireless Password that we will configure in a while.
If Version is set to Automatic, the Router will automatically select WPA-PSK or WPA2-PSK based on the Wireless Devices’ capability and request. Automatic is usually the recommended option.
Encryption can also be left Automatic (as set by default) or it can be changed to either AES or TKIP.
AES offers a higher level of security than TKIP. Furthermore, TKIP encryption is not supported by the 802.11n specification and it’s not recommended if the Router is configured to operate in 802.11n mode.
In this case, we also recommend the Automatic option.
And finally, it’s time to configure the Wi-Fi Password!
It’s extremely important that the password is complex so that it won’t be easy to guess. It should be at least 8 characters long and always use a combination of letters (both upper and lower case), numbers and symbols.
Never use your telephone number, house name or other “common” phrases as your password because, obviously, it won’t be hard to guess!
Also, you should change your password every now and then to make it even harder for hackers or programs to crack your password.
Once you’re happy with the Wireless Security configuration, click on Save and the Router will reboot to apply the changes that you’ve made.
As soon as the Router loads, you can then configure the Wi-Fi password on your Wireless Devices.
There are various other Router settings that can be configured to provide even more security, such as MAC Address Filtering, Access Control, Bandwidth Control and Denial of Service (DoS) Protection, amongst others.
But, don’t worry – we will cover these in another blog post given that the purpose of this blog is mainly to help you improve Wi-Fi reachability and securing it properly, without going into the more complex parts.
In the meantime, you can always read these seven tips on how to make your Home Wi-Fi safer.
We have covered two of these tips in this blog post and we believe that the other five steps are essential when configuring a Wi-Fi Router.
Needless to say, 100% protection does not exist, as the years have proved.
However, a sensible approach to Router settings – using strong passwords and a secure encryption – will significantly contribute to a higher level of safety for your Wireless Network.
So, there you have it! Your Home Wi-Fi is now secure and, as you can see, it isn’t very difficult and it doesn’t take long to configure.
And that brings us to the conclusion of our blog post about Wi-Fi Reach and Security.
We truly hope that you enjoyed reading it and that we managed to help you improve your Wi-Fi’s reachability, as well as understand the importance of a secure Wi-Fi.
Is your Wi-Fi more reachable now? And have you taken the necessary steps to secure your Wi-Fi properly?
Send us your feedback and any questions you might have in the Comments section below.
Enjoy your Wi-Fi!