Understanding the Most Important WiFi Settings

To many people, WiFi networks seem impossibly complex. Reading about them is like navigating a huge maze of unintelligible acronyms, and it’s no wonder that only a few brave, and typically technically inclined, individuals dare to open WiFi settings and play with them. But things don’t have to be like this, and this article aims to demystify the most important aspects of WiFi networks and help you set up WiFi correctly.

headAllAboutWiFi

What WiFi Settings Are the Most Important?


The manufacturers of wireless routers know that most users don’t know how to set up WiFi at home. To make things a bit easier, they have created convenient setup applications and management consoles that neatly hide all the technical complexity behind a pretty user interface and plain language.

But there are some WiFi settings that are so important and so easy to understand that it makes sense to make an effort to understand them.

  • SSID: An SSID stands for service set identifier, and it’s the primary name of a WiFi network. SSIDs are up to 32 characters long, and the characters must be ASCII-only, which is a character encoding standard for electronic communication. All routers have a certain default SSID, often corresponding to the name of the manufacturer. As a user, you’re free to change the SSID of your WiFi network as many times as you want to, and you can even make it invisible to prevent others from easily connecting to your network.

  • Security Mode: To provide data confidentiality comparable to that of a traditional wired network, several security standards for wireless networks have been developed, with Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) being the oldest among them, introduced as part of the original 802.11 standard ratified in 1997. Because of its shortcomings, WEP had been superseded by Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and later Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA2). As a rule of thumb, always use the latest security standard for wireless networks your router supports. If it’s only WEP, strongly consider buying a new router.

  • Password: Even the strongest standard for wireless networks can be utterly useless if you use a weak password. A password is weak if it can be easily guessed. The weakest passwords are names, dates, or simple phrases. A step above them are passwords that are random but too short. An ideal password is so long that it can’t be brute-forced in any reasonable amount of time. If you have trouble remembering random strings consisting of letters and numbers, consider using a very long sentence instead, preferably something utterly random and ungrammatical. If you ever find yourself wondering how to set up WiFi password that can withstand the test of time as well as hackers, why not let a random password generator help you out?

  • Channel: The 2.4 GHz band is divided into several channels, 11 in North America. These channels are sort of like swimming pool lines. When a swimmer in one line swims, the waves he or she creates impact swimmers in adjacent lines.The same thing happens with WiFi networks. When two networks are on the same channel, interference may occur. For this reason, you should configure your WiFi router to broadcast on the least populated channel.

  • NAT: Network address translation (NAT)is a method of remapping one IP address space into another. With NAT, one public IP address can hide a number of private IP addresses. Many WiFi users encounter NAT-related issues when playing online games, and fixing them requires doing either Port Forwarding or Port Triggering, both of which can be accomplished in the NAT section of most WiFi router management consoles.

  • QoS: Quality of service (QoS) is a useful feature of many newer WiFi routers. Essentially, QoS provides the ability to prioritize different applications, users, or data flows to guarantee a certain level of performance. Typically, WiFi users prioritize voice communication or online gaming over file downloads and video streaming.

How to Set Up WiFi Correctly?


To set up WiFi correctly, you need to understand what other WiFi networks are present in your area. This information can be obtained using a WiFi analysis tool. Most importantly, you want to know which WiFi channels are occupied the most so you can select one where interference won’t be such an issue.

If you discover that all channels on the 2.4 GHz are occupied, you should consider switching to the 5 GHz band, which consists of 23 non-overlapping channels, instead of just 3. Many modern WiFi routers support both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz spectrum, so you may not even need to buy new hardware.

Finally, you should also figure out the best place for your WiFi router. Again, this is something a capable WiFi analysis application should be able to help you with. In the next section, we introduce popular WiFi analyzer applications, each offering a unique set of capabilities.

Best Software Applications for Setting Up WiFi Networks


1. NetSpot

NetSpot is an easy to use application for wireless site surveys, Wi-Fi analysis, and troubleshooting on Mac OS X and Windows. NetSpot can quickly gather all important information about nearby wireless networks and conduct in-depth wireless surveys.

NetSpot

Unlike other similarly capable applications, NetSpot has been designed for regular home users even though it’s fully capable of satisfying the needs of networking professionals who demand utmost accuracy.

Discover. Analyze. Compare.

Coming soon! Be the first to know about NetSpot WiFi analyzer for Android.


2. inSSIDer

inSSIDer is a WiFi scanner for Windows and Mac OS X. It’s a replacement for popular Windows WiFi scanner NetStumbler, introducing several new features and an improved user interface.

inSSIDer

Among the features of inSSIDer are the ability to gather information from wireless devices, the ability to perform a routine spot check to ensure optimal channel selection, and much more.


3. WiFi Analyzer

WiFi Analyzer is a very simply WiFi analyzer for Windows. Its main advantage is the fact that it can be downloaded directly from the Windows Store.

WiFi Analyzer

Compared to the previous two applications, WiFi Analyzer is much simpler, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing unless you want to do something very specific.


Have more questions? Submit a request.

Windows version is here!

NetSpot is an easy-to-use wireless network detector for in-depth surveying of WiFi networks around you.
Get the free WiFi scanner app

Next in All about Wi-Fi


Other Articles

Start now with NetSpot
Runs on a MacBook (macOS 10.10+) or any laptop (Windows 7/8/10)
with a standard 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless network adapter.