Essential Settings for Home Network Routers

Router

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Broadband routers support many settings for home networks. Among all of the available options and parameters, router administrators tend to work with certain ones regularly and rarely, if ever, with others. These router settings are essential to installing and maintaining home networks.

Basic Wireless Network Settings for Routers

A router uses standard default values for its Wi-Fi wireless radio settings. Wi-Fi mode controls which variations of possible wireless protocols a router will support. For example, an 802.11g-capable router can be configured to disable any backward compatibility support for 802.11b to improve performance or reliability, or enable proprietary "speed boost" or "extended range" features. By default, these options are turned off. Wi-Fi mode is controlled by one or multiple settings, depending on the model of router.

WRK54G Router Console - Wireless Tab
WRK54G Router Console - Wireless Tab.

The Wi-Fi channel number refers to the frequency band a wireless router uses for radio communication. Standard Wi-Fi channel numbers in the U.S. and many other countries range between 1 and 11. Broadband routers typically default to channels 1, 6, or 11, but you can change this setting to work around signal interference issues.

Wireless devices find and identify a router by its service set identifier (SSID), sometimes called "router name" or "wireless network name" on consoles. Routers come preconfigured with a generic SSID like "wireless," or the name of a vendor. You can change the SSID to avoid conflicts with other wireless networks and to enhance security.

Router configuration screen
Insert a new SSID and, if necessary, a new password to connect to your home Wi-Fi network.

Internet Connection Settings for Routers

All broadband routers support a group of settings for configuring the home internet connection via an attached or built-in broadband modem. The specific names of these settings as shown on an administrator console vary among router models.

  • Internet connection type: Home routers support popular types of broadband internet service. Most routers provide a list of internet connection types and require an administrator to select the one that applies to the network. Most types of connections listed in the router's menu are named according to the underlying internet network protocol technology rather than the name of the service provider company. Typical internet connection types on a router include dynamic IP (DHCP), static IP, PPPoE. PPTP and L2TP.
  • Internet username and password: Some internet providers, including those for digital subscriber line (DSL), issue account names and passwords to their subscribers. Subscribers must enter these settings into the router's console so it can support the modem.
  • MTU: In a nutshell, the maximum transmission unit (MTU) setting refers to the largest number of bytes a single physical unit of network traffic can contain. Routers set this value to any of several default numbers such as 1400, 1460, 1492, or 1500 in attempting to match the standard values for a given internet connection type. In some cases, however, the internet provider's network requires a different number. Using a mismatched value can cause serious technical difficulties including timeouts when accessing websites, so you should set this number according to your service provider's directions.

    Security Settings for Home Network Routers

    You should change the router's administrator password immediately, because default values (such as admin and password) of all models are well-known to hackers.

    Screenshot of Wi-Fi connection settings in the router

    In wireless networking, the Wi-Fi security mode and Wi-Fi encryption and authentication settings ensure proper protection of your data and connections against hackers and unauthorized users. Depending on the security mode (for example, WPA), additional settings for wireless keys and/or passphrases apply.