At first glance, setting up a router may seem daunting but if you follow the steps in this tutorial it is very straightforward. Basic setup is super-simple but you don’t want to stop there. You will want to make a couple of changes to improve security and make sure the only people who can access your router and your network is you.
TP-Link routers are popular due to their competitive price and ease of use. They provide fast network access, can act as a firewall as well as a router and can offer wireless access within your property.
To make a network, you will need a modem with active internet connection and one or more computers. We begin by connecting a computer via Ethernet for configuration but once done, you can switch to wireless if you need to. You cannot set up a router using WiFi.
Setting up your router
You may have to configure your modem to modem-only mode but that depends entirely on your ISP. It’s worth checking the modem configuration screen to find out. While you can use two routers in a network, you can only use a single DHCP server and that should be within your router, not your modem.
Once you have unboxed your router:
- Place it close to your ISP modem and connect the modem to the WAN port of the router using an Ethernet cable.
- Turn the router on. The connection light should go green once it has a connection.
- Connect your computer to the router’s LAN port via Ethernet. It doesn’t matter which port number you use.
- Open a browser and type 192.168.1.1 into the URL bar. Try 192.168.0.1 if 1.1 doesn’t work. You should see a TP-Link screen appear.
- Type admin and admin for the username and password.
You’re now logged into the configuration screen of your router. It is from here that we set everything up.
Change the router password
The first thing you should always do when setting up a new router is to change the password. Everyone knows admin admin so you need to change it now.
- Select Management and Access Control.
- Select Password.
- Enter the old password and the new password twice.
- Select Save.
On some routers, the menu will be Maintenance and Administration but the rest should be the same. Some routers will allow you to change the username. If yours has that option, change that too. Try not to make your username identifiable and make sure your password is strong.
Set up WiFi on a TP-Link router
Setting up wireless is just as straightforward. You will need to set up a WiFi password for people to use to access your wireless network. Make it as strong as you can while also keeping it usable. Make sure it is different from your router password.
- Select Wireless from the TP-Link router configuration menu.
- Select Wireless Network Name and call it something meaningful.
- Select the region and set the mode. 802.11 Mixed is fine there.
- Select a channel or set it to auto for now if you prefer.
- Then select Save.
- Select Wireless and then Wireless Security.
- Select WPA2 as the encryption.
- Set a new wireless password. Make it something strong.
- Select Save.
Your wireless network is now configured and ready to use. Once you have rebooted your router, connect a phone or other device to it using the password you set up. It should connect right away.
Setting up DHCP on a TP-Link router
DHCP, Dynamic Host Control Protocol is what provides IP addresses within a network. There should only be one DHCP server per network which is why you need to check your modem and make sure it is in router mode.
- Select DHCP from the left menu in your router and DHCP Settings.
- Enable or disable as you need.
- Set an IP address range if you’re using the router as the DHCP server.
- Select Save once done.
Set up DNS on a TP-Link router
By default, your ISP modem assigns a DNS server to your router but ISP DNS are often slow. Changing the DNS server can improve speed by quite a margin so is well worth trying.
- Select Network from the admin screen.
- Select WAN and select Primary and Secondary DNS.
- Change the entries in there to Google DNS (18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124) OpenDNS or something else.
- Select Save when complete.
Now select System Tools and Reboot to allow your router to reboot and loads its new configuration. Remember to use your new username and/or password to log in!