There are four main steps to set up a wireless router:

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1. Get the right hardware

You'll need the following hardware to set up a wireless network and connect it to the Internet:

  • A wireless router.

  • A PC that has a wireless network adapter.

  • A PC that has a wired network adapter. (The wired network adapter is used only during setup, and it can be the same PC that has the wireless network adapter.)

  • A network (Ethernet) cable.

2. Set up the router

If your router displays the Windows logo or the phrase "Compatible with Windows," you can set it up automatically using the latest version of Windows Connect Now (WCN) on Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, Windows 7, or Windows Vista Service Pack 2.

To set up a router automatically

  1. Unpack the router and plug it into a power source. Because you're using WCN, you don't need to physically connect the router to your PC.

  2. Connect to a network by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Settings (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the lower-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer up, and then clicking Settings), and then tapping or clicking the network icon (Wireless network icon or Wired network icon). Tap or click the network you want to connect to, and then tap or click Connect.

  3. Tap or click the default network of your router, which you can identify by the manufacturer name.

  4. Tap or click the network you want to connect to, tap or click Connect, and then follow the instructions on your screen.

Even if WCN is unavailable, most routers come with a setup CD to help you set up your wireless network. Review the info that came with your router.

If WCN is unavailable, and you didn't get a setup CD, you can set up the router manually.

To set up a router manually

  1. Unpack the router and plug it into a power source.

  2. Connect one end of the network cable to the PC’s wired network adapter and plug the other end into any LAN port on the wireless router (any port that isn't labeled "Internet," "WAN," or "uplink").

    Illustration of the ports on the back of a router
    The ports on the back of a router
  3. Open your web browser and enter the address of the router’s configuration webpage. For most routers, the address to the configuration webpage is either http://192.168.0.1 or http://192.168.1.1.

    On the configuration page, sign in with the user name and password that's included in the router's documentation. If you can't find the user name and password and you have an Internet connection on another PC, you can search the Internet for the router manufacturer's website for more info.

  4. Configure the following settings by referring to the info that came with your router.

    • Choose a name for your wireless network.

    • Select the kind of encryption (WPA, WPA2, or WEP) you want to use for security and turn it on.

      It's a good idea to use WPA2. We recommend not using WEP, which is an earlier form of encryption. WPA and WPA2 are more secure. If you try WPA or WPA2 and they don't work, we recommend that you upgrade your network adapter to one that works with WPA or WPA2.

    • Choose a security key or passphrase to use to connect to the wireless network.

    • Change the default administrative password of the router to a new password so that other people can't connect to your network.

3. Connect the router to the Internet

Connecting your router to the Internet gives everyone on your network an Internet connection.

Depending on the devices you have, these steps can vary.

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To connect one device (a combined modem and router)

Illustration of a combined modem and router plugged in
A combined modem and router plugged in
  1. Plug the power cable of the device into an electrical outlet.

  2. Plug one end of a phone cord or cable into the wide area network (WAN) port of the device, and then plug the other end into the wall jack. (DSL users: Don't use a DSL filter on the phone line.)

  3. Plug one end of a network cable into the LAN port on the device, and then plug the other end into the networking port of the PC. (If you're connecting wirelessly, skip this step.)

  4. Start (or restart) the PC.

To connect two devices (a separate modem and router)

Illustration of a modem and router plugged in
A modem and router plugged in
  1. Plug the power cable of the modem into an electrical outlet.

  2. Plug one end of a phone cord or cable into the modem, and plug the other end into the wall jack. (DSL users: Don't use a DSL filter on the phone line.)

  3. Plug one end of a network cable into the modem, and plug the other end into the wide area network (WAN) port on the router.

  4. Plug the router into an electrical outlet.

  5. Plug one end of a network cable into the LAN port on the router, and plug the other end into the networking port on the PC that you want to connect to the Internet. (If you're connecting wirelessly, skip this step.)

  6. Start (or restart) the PC.

4. Connect PCs to the network

You can keep your initial PC permanently connected to the router with a wired connection, or you can switch to a wireless connection. Here's how to connect other PCs to your network.

To connect other PCs to your network

  1. Sign in to the PC you want to connect to the network.

  2. Connect to a network by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Settings (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the lower-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer up, and then clicking Settings), and then tapping or clicking the network icon (Wireless network icon or Wired network icon). Tap or click the network you want to connect to, and then tap or click Connect.

  3. Choose your wireless network from the list that appears, and then tap or click Connect.

    Warning

    • Whenever possible, you should connect to a security-enabled wireless network. If you do connect to a network that's not secure, someone with the right tools can see everything that you do, including the websites you visit, the documents you work on, and the user names and passwords that you use.

  4. Do one of the following:

    • If your router supports Windows Connect Now (WCN), or Wi‑Fi Protected Setup (WPS), and there's a push button on the router, push the button and then wait for a few seconds while the router automatically adds the PC to the network. In this case, you don't need to enter a security key or passphrase.

    • Enter the security key or passphrase if you're prompted to do so, and then tap or click OK.