Setting Up Your Dorm Room Router

Let’s face it, campus WiFi (if it’s even offered) can leave a LOT to be desired. It’s really not their fault, though. There are only so many routers you can install on campus, and you have to compete with all the other hundreds – or even thousands – of students in the area. When most of the equipment in your dorm room needs to run on WiFi, where does that leave you when trying to stream the latest show in your room with your friends?

Install Your Own Router

Most students these days opt to get their own WiFi router to help eliminate the problems the campus WiFi will get you. There are several benefits to having your own WiFi router in your room or apartment.

First, your files and passwords will be much more secure; the data just passes within your own network, instead of a broad network shared by many users. You also won’t have to compete with the rest of campus for the small amount of bandwidth each wireless router can take. Bandwidth is like the freeway. The freeway can only take so many cars at a time. When there are too many cars, the freeway gets clogged up, and you become late for your next appointment. The same theory can be applied to wireless Internet traffic. Too many users on one particular network can clog everything up and slow everyone down. If you need several items plugged directly into the Internet (for the ultimate in speed ­– think streaming or gaming) you can plug multiple devices into your router instead of sharing the one plug coming out of your wall.

Now that you are convinced you need your own router, which one should you buy? Since your dorm or apartment is probably pretty small, you don’t have to get the best, most expensive router out there. You really don’t need a ton of range on your router, since your room is the size of a shoebox. Look for well-known brands that have speed and the proper ports, but remember, you’re only trying to accommodate a small space, so you don’t need a super-long-range router.

Setting Up Your Router

Once you have purchased your router, go ahead and open it!

Your dorm room or apartment should have an Ethernet jack where the Internet connection comes into the room. It looks a little bit like a telephone jack but slightly wider. Although, with fewer and fewer people having a home phone these days, I’m not sure that comparison works much anymore. Either way, you should know what port in your room the Internet is coming through.

The router should have an Ethernet cable that plugs into the box. If not, you may need to purchase a CAT 5 or CAT 6 Ethernet cable. Plug the cable into the wall jack (the port where the Internet is coming through) and then plug the other end into the wireless router. There should be a port on the router that says “Internet” or it may just have a picture of a globe. Some routers even make that port appear a different color to differentiate it from the other ports.

The router should have the default wireless information written on a sticker, or it may be included in the instruction manual. To connect to the wireless network, search for the SSID (the name the router is broadcasting) and connect to it using the password provided. You can also use another Ethernet cable and plug your laptop or computer directly into the router in one of the other ports.

You’re Ready to Connect

Once you are connected to the router, open up your Internet browser and navigate to the router’s administration area. Some routers will take you to the interface automatically, and some will make you enter an IP address in the browser. The IP with the username and password should be written in the instructions that come with your router.

Now that you are in the admin area, go to the wireless settings and change the SSID (the network name) and the passphrase (the password you use to connect to your network) to something you’ll remember but is difficult for others to guess. Keeping the default settings would give other people easy access to your network. You should also change the administration password for the router, to keep neighbors from getting in and changing your router’s settings.

The last thing I usually change is the local IP range. Again, this is more for security than anything else. The default range for the LAN (local area network) of a router is typically 192.168.1.__ depending on what brand of router you use. I like to change it to 192.168.80.__ but you can use any number in that third spot. This helps security by making it harder for someone trying to access your system, since they would try the default 192.168.1.1 first. When you hide your network at a different octet (the numbers in the IP address), they have a lot more addresses they need to try to gain access to your router and your network.

Now that you have changed all those settings, connect the rest of the devices in your room to your new network and enjoy your newfound Internet speed! Happy browsing!