Router Installation

Question: How do I install and configure a router?

The IT Guy says:

If you are asking this question in the context of a school classroom or computer lab, the answer is don’t ask – you do not need to worry about it. Your district IT department configures access to the Internet and has already taken care of the router configuration if you presently have Internet access.

A router is generally a hardware device, but it can also be software based, as software can direct certain types of network traffic in certain ways. Routers are commonly used to configure Internet access. They can be set up to dynamically assign IP addresses to any computer connected to the network (in this case the router acts also as a DHCP server) or to require static IP addresses, which are assigned by the IT department. Routers can be for wired network connections as well as for wireless connections. For wireless connections, different types of encryption and authentication can be used to prevent unauthorized users from accessing your network.

Now that broadband Internet access is more common in residential homes (cable or DSL), many people are buying routers for residential use. A router is necessary if you want two or more computers to share the Internet connection. If you just have one computer at home, there is no reason to get a router. Combination devices are also available and cheaper than ever, and they offer different types of functionality in one unit. For example, a combination wired router, wireless router, wired Ethernet hub, and DHCP server is available in Spring 2004 for about $50.

These types of devices are generally configurable by using a Web browser. The documentation that came with your router should include the default IP address of the router. With your computer plugged into the router, you should be able to enter the IP address of the router and then login with the default user ID and password (again, this should be provided in the documentation.) I highly recommend that you change the default user ID and password, especially if you are using a wireless router. You also should consider enabling WEP encryption to prevent your neighbors or passers-by from gaining unauthorized access to your home network and computers connected to it. WEP encryption is actually pretty easy for even a novice hacker to defeat, however, thanks to freely available software tools that other hackers have made available on the Internet .Be aware that anytime you leave your home computer on all the time, it is subject to a hacker attack.

Probably the greatest benefit to using a router at home for Internet access, besides being able to share the connection with more than one computer, is that the router by default can serve as an effective firewall to prevent outside access to computers connected in your home. The only device with a “global†IP address (meaning it is visible / attackable by other Internet users) is your router, unless you enable the “DMZ†feature of the router.

If this is for your home Internet access, check your router documentation for the configuration specifics. If this is at school, don’t worry about it! You can leave the router worries to your district IT person!

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