How to Set Up a Home Network: A Simple Guide

Setting up your own home network isn’t difficult, but it can be time-consuming and sometimes frustrating. When you’re figuring out how to set up your home network, you might need a few extra cables and connectors, and you’ll definitely need the following:


Your ISP may want to rent you one, but you might be better off buying your own. In the long run, it will be cheaper to own your modem than to rent it. Do your research online to discover modems that are compatible with your ISP and your download speed. Your provider should have a list posted on their site of compatible devices. The modem connects to the internet. While you are deciding which modem to buy, your ISP will likely be announcing an upgrade in your connection speed—so consider staying power when you select your modem.


Your router distributes an internet connection throughout your home. Most routers also provide several ethernet cable ports for wired connections. Game consoles and streaming services can gobble a lot of bandwidth and slow down everyone else’s wireless connection, so placing those devices near the router and connecting them with ethernet cables will give them a speedy connection while minimizing interference with wireless devices. As with a modem, when purchasing a router, consider the future and the perpetual increases in connection speed. Newer routers will support two kinds of networks: 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz—the first has greater range will the latter has better throughput, but lesser range.


If you’ve decided to put the kids and their console in the basement with the router, you may need some additional cabling for your “mixed” wired/wireless network. Ethernet cables have speed limits, so consult your supplier about which cable type will work for your network.


Most manufacturers have made configuring a new router easy, with step-by-step instructions on how to set up your home network. You may have online access to the network admin dashboard, as well. Plug in your modem, connect your router to it with the proper cable, and then follow your router brand’s instructions for setting up and adding devices, such as laptops, tablets, and wireless printers. Once the network is up, phones and other mobile devices will detect it and if the user has been added with a password, they can log on.

Pay attention to security. Wi-Fi is most susceptible to security issues, so work your way through instructions for securing your wireless network with encryption and passwords. If you work at home, you must make sure your network and devices will support access to your company’s VPN, or that you can use a VPN service to protect your wireless connection. Depending on your router, you may need to configure users and their levels of network access.


If you have a large home, or your signal will encounter a lot of walls or interference from appliances, you may need to add signal boosters in a few places around the home. These do what their name implies—boost the signal from your router to make it stronger in places that are otherwise difficult for it to reach.

If you run into trouble connecting, search online for troubleshooting instructions or try the time-tested tactic of resetting or unplugging everything and starting over.