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8 tips to maximize the security and signal quality of our router

In this article by the wirelessrouterhome team, we want to give advice that may prove very useful to you. This article has some small pieces of advice to improve the security and quality of our WiFi network and to accurately configure our router. For this article we’ve used as a reference the Asus RT-AC66U router on a computer with the Windows 7 Professional 32-bit operating system. Before we begin, we should note that the IP addresses and passwords used here are just as generic as they may be false. We mention this to avoid any possible suspicions. Let’s begin.

The first step is to access our router. In our case we’ll open a web browser and put 192.168.0.0 (a totally generic URL) in the address bar. Once we’ve done that, it’ll ask us for a username and password, which in this case is "ADMIN" for both fields. If we don’t know the IP address, we’ll do the following: we’ll go to the home screen and write CMD. Once a terminal window has opened we write "ipconfig" in lowercase and without quotes. Once it’s done loading all the information we should look at where it says “Default Gateway” there to the side is where our IP address for entrance to the router is. Once we put the aforementioned username and password we’ll access the configuration menu of our router ASUS RT-AC66U.

Once we’ve accessed our router the first thing to do is change the username and password. To do this, go to "Administration" and then "System," where it shows clearly where to change both.

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The next step is to change the SSID. This is the name of our network that we see when looking for Wi-Fi on a Wireless device (a smartphone, for example). Generally, manufacturers give the network a generic name, which is usually the model of the router. To change it, go to "General" tab of the "Wireless" section, which lists the SSID as ASUS (a generic name). Replace it with the name you want to give your network. In our case, we’ve used our own name, "wirelessrouterhome."

As the third step, we recommend selecting the option "Disable UPnP" or Universal Plug and Play, which works like Windows in that it allows for easy recognition of devices connected to the router. If we disable it, it’s possible that using certain programs (for example utorrent) will require us to manually open the ports it asks us for. Nevertheless, disabling UPnP slightly increases the security of our network against possible attacks and entry of unauthorized users.

To disable this option, go to the WAN section and select the tab "Internet Connection" where you’ll see the option "Do you want to enable UPnP?". Select "NO."

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For the fourth step, we’ll concentrate on choosing the best encryption method and a password. For that, let’s go to the section "Wireless" and under the "General" tab you should see "Authentication Method." Click it and select WPA2-Personal, then select AES and just under that we should see the WPA key, which we’ll use to access our Wi-Fi network. In this case we’ve put “Welcome to wirelessrouterhome .”

The kind of password usually recommended for a network is one that is 16 characters long and above all alternates between letters and numbers. It’s also advisable that the password start with a number. This is important to increase security as much as possible by making it practically impossible for someone to steal our password.

The fifth step involves increasing the quality of our WiFi network. The router emits its frequency in a specific band, which means that our and our neighbors’ routers may wind up sharing the same channel. This produces interference, keeping our router from reaching the minimum required speed and giving us a slower, less stable Internet connection.

To solve this, we’ll go to the "Wireless" section and under the "General" tab, it should show "Frequency" as the first option. In our case it should show that we’re using the router ASUS AC66UC. We’ll put it on 5 GHz, which should prepare it to use the AC band. If not, we’ll set the frequency a little lower, to 2.4 GHz. Where it says “Channel,” we should see that it’s set to “Automatic,” but it’s advisable to change it or put it on the highest or lowest channel since these are usually the ones least occupied.

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As for the sixth step, we want to explain the difference between the Automatic IP and Fixed IP configurations. Logically, in Automatic IP, our router will randomly assign an IP to any device we connect, while Static IP lets us choose it ourselves. The latter option gives us a little more security against possible attacks since having a fixed IP number will keep unauthorized users from connecting to our network.

To find this option, we’ll have to explore our router’s menu until we find the area marked “WAN” and under the “Internet Connection” tab we should see “Basic Configuration,” which shows the type of WAN connection. Beside it, we should see “Automatic IP Address” set as the default value. We’ll change this to Static IP Address. Further below some new options should open for “Configuration of WAN IP Address.” There, we’ll put the IP address, the subnet mask, and the default gateway we choose.

As the seventh step, we recommend updating the router’s firmware. Although some models do this process automatically, we’ll only be looking for new firmware from time. For the ASUS AC66UC, we’ll go to where it says “Administration” and under the “Firmware Update” tab we’ll click Check. If there is an update, the router will inform us and ask us if we want to install it. Click Yes and wait for the installation to finish.

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For the eighth step, we’ve left for last the business of making a backup copy of our router’s configuration. This option will be useful to us if rebooting the router somehow causes it to lose its configuration; having a backup copy will keep us from having to repeat all the above steps one by one.

We can find this option in “Administration” under the “Restore, save, and load configuration,”tab, where we’ll see three options. The first, Restore, returns the router to its default settings. The second, or the one that interests us, is Save, which will save a copy of the router configuration on our computer. The third, Load, is used if something in our router configuration is modified by us or due to some problem. In this case, we’d click the tab just to the side labeled “Select File,” look for the configuration file we previously saved, then click “Load” to configure our router exactly as it as before.

Even though we’ve written these instructions for a specific router, most of these steps can be done on nearly all modern routers. Following these steps will improve our network’s stability as well as its security against unauthorized users.

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