How to set up a router in your dorm

August 7, 2020

By Bianca Torres

It is no secret that on-campus WiFi isn’t always reliable. How many times have you been working on a research paper or getting ready to submit an assignment or timed test when the WiFi suddenly cuts out? Colleges support many students at once with a single shared wireless signal, and this can cause slow connection speeds and spotty coverage. Sharing a dorm may be fun but competing with every student on campus for WiFi definitely isn’t.

What is a router? 

A router is a networking device that sends an internet connection on a “route” from the modem to other devices. The difference between a router and a modem can be confusing, but they are both related to connecting you to the internet. The modem is the device that brings the hard-wired connection via your ethernet cable into a house, apartment, or dorm, while the router is the device that transmits that internet connection wirelessly to multiple devices or users. 

For your dorm room, it’s best to get a router because internet service may already be available to you by your college. You will also want to double check that your college approves of students having their own router. 

Benefits of getting your own router

Many students choose to install their own WiFi router in their dorms because of the benefits in speed and security. Looking at getting your own router can be intimidating, but it is worth it and easier to do than learning how to do laundry.

Having your own private network brings the comfort of greater security and privacy. Data will only transmit through your network and not the broader network shared by the rest of campus. This means that when you log in to one of your accounts, that information isn’t being transferred through the school’s shared campus network. Plus, you get an extra layer of security by having your own login information to connect to your router, reducing the chances that anyone else gaining access to your personal information. Hackers who are after your personal information tend to use it to open credit cards or even sell it to others on the dark web. Having a unique login that only you and your roommates know keeps the chances of your internet being hacked, low. 

Your own WiFi network is far more likely to keep up with your needs. Your colleges internet sends each student the information they are looking for through a range of frequencies, this is called bandwidth. Think of bandwidth like a freeway. A freeway can only have so many cars at a time, but when too many cars jump on, there will be traffic. With more traffic, all cars will take longer to get from point A to point B. The same goes for wireless internet traffic: when too many users are on one network, it can clog up and slow things down for everyone. Your own router will help you find the fastest route. (Plus, no more buffering when you’re binge-watching the latest episode of something instead of working on that paper. Don’t worry – we won’t tell!)

If you are thinking of getting your own router, the next question may be, “Which router should I buy?” Since dorm rooms are small, you don’t need broad coverage or access for an entire household. Go for a smaller router that fits your needs and makes sense for your budget.

Setting up your router

After purchasing your router, it’s time to set it up!

Your dorm or apartment should have an Ethernet wall port that is labeled “ENET” or “Data.” It looks like a telephone jack, but a bit wider. Or it may share an outlet with the cable jack. This port is where you will receive an internet connection. 

Your router will have a port where the Ethernet cable plugs in. You may have to buy a CAT 5 or CAT 6 Ethernet cable to get started, though often this will come with your new router. Plug one end of the cable into the Ethernet wall port and the other end into the port on your router, which may be labeled “WAN,"  “Internet” or simply "Ethernet" and will often be a different color such as yellow or green. 

The next step is to see if the wireless network can be accessed by your computer. There should be a sticker on your new router that will show the default login information. If not, you will be able to find the information in the instruction manual. You’ll want to find your SSID (Service Set Identifier), also known as the WiFi network name, on your computer or device. Enter the username and password, also typically printed on your router or in the user guide, to continue the login process. Once you’re logged in, you know all the cables are connected in the right places and you’re ready to get connected! 

Get connected, safely 

You’ve got your router up and running — now let’s make sure you stay secure. You’ll want to change the default login information you used to get set up because it will make it easy to hack in the future if you didn’t.

On the back of your router (where you found the default information) or in the instruction manual, you will find your router’s IP address. Most IP addresses look something like 192.168.1.1. Input your router’s IP address into a window browser, which will lead you to your router’s admin page. This page is like a control panel for the settings and configuration. The login information should be found on your instruction manual. If not, it can be easily found on the router brand website – just search for default username and password on their website. 

The place to go to change your username and password will be different depending on the brand of router you purchased. It can either be under Wireless Settings or on the main page of your router. If it is in neither of these locations, look in your instruction manual. When coming up with a new username, have fun with it! Make sure you create a strong password that can’t be guessed.  Avoid using any personal information like your birthday or even home address as your password and think of something complex with a mix of characters, numbers, and letters. 

The place to go to change your username and password will be different depending on the brand of router you purchased. It can either be under Wireless Settings or on the main page of your router. If it is in neither of these locations, look in your instruction manual. When coming up with a new username, have fun with it! Make sure you create a strong password that can’t be guessed.  Avoid using any personal information like your birthday or even home address as your password and think of something complex with a mix of characters, numbers, and letters. 

Now that all the default information has changed and your router is up and running, go ahead and connect all your devices to your new WiFi network. Give your WiFi password only to friends that you trust – it will help to keep your new connection fast and more secure. With your new internet speed, you can get your assignments turned in on time and enjoy binging your favorite show… on your study break of course!


This blog is provided for informational purposes only and may require additional research and substantiation by the end user. In addition, the information is provided "as is" without any warranty or condition of any kind, either express or implied. Use of this information is at the end user's own risk. CenturyLink does not warrant that the information will meet the end user's requirements or that the implementation or usage of this information will result in the desired outcome of the end user.

 

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