How to Set Up and Use a Wireless Network Router

How to Use a Router
Understand what your wireless router is capable of and what you can do with it.
Ash Ash (298)
Total time: 5 minutes 

In the world of computer networking, the word "router" refers to a device used to manage network connections for computers, phones, tablets, and more. There are plenty of things you can do with your router that have useful benefits like increasing network security. It can be a lot to take in at first, but the payoff is worth it.

What is a router?

A router is a device used to manage networks by assigning IP addresses and directing traffic to nodes (computers, tablets, etc) on a given network. They can manage devices both wirelessly and using an Ethernet cable.

Routers differ from modems in that their primary function is to route network traffic to connected devices. You can read more about the difference between modems and routers here.

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The main job of a router is to provide network access to approved connected devices. These devices can range from phones and tablets to smart devices like TVs—anything that requires network access. The router is responsible for both assigning IP addresses to anything connected and regulating the traffic between the devices.

If you want to use your router at all, you have to know how to log in. The login screen for most routers can be accessed from a browser window. You can use a computer, tablet, phone, or anything else that can open a browser window. The address is usually just the IP address for the router. If you need help finding it, check out our guide on how to find your router's IP address.

Once you make your way to the login screen, you'll need a username and password. If you're using a router given to you by your service provider, they should be able to provide you with default login information. If you purchased your own router, the manufacturer can provide the first-time login credentials.

Once you've logged in, you can increase security by resetting the admin password. Be sure to avoid using dictionary words. Use a mix of numbers, capital and lowercase letters, and special characters. The longer the password, the better.

All routers provide multiple ways to support a wireless network. Some manufacturers provide unique tools to help with Wi-Fi management, like whitelisting options in the web interface. But all of them should provide means to rename your wireless network and reset the Wi-Fi password.

If you'd like to get more out of your wireless router and expand its range of support, you may want to look into boosting your wireless signal.

Like I said before, routers are responsible for assigning IP addresses. They also have the ability to block network access for unapproved clients.

With most router interfaces, you can access a list of currently connected devices. You can see what their IP address is, node name, and have the power to choose which devices are permitted on the network.

Log in to your router and look for a list of nodes in the web interface. If you aren't sure where to look, you can always consult with your ISP or manufacturer.

Securing your network involves protecting both network access and router access. Changing your Wi-Fi password isn't the same as changing your router password. If you're still using the default login credentials provided to you for Wi-Fi or the router admin account, you can increase network security by changing them.

Exercise serious password security for added protection. Use a long password with no dictionary words. Add a mix of numbers and special characters with both uppercase and lowercase letters.

You may need to enable port forwarding if you're hosting an online server for a multiplayer game. Most routers have a settings menu just for this process.

Access your router via browser and log in. Look throughout the web interface for anything regarding port forwarding. You should have options to set the protocol to TCP or UDP and port number range to whatever value your situation calls for.

Many router manufacturers have unique features that can only be found in their interface. Take the time to read any manuals you can find for your hardware. Check with your ISP or visit the manufacturer’s website.

Other people who have the same router may leave feedback with tips on various online forums. A little bit of research can go a long way. You never know what kind of tools might be just within reach.