What is Home Networking?
EarthLink Home Networking links the computers and peripherals (printers, scanners, disk drives, etc.) in your home. You can swap files between computers, share a printer, and access the Internet at high speed from multiple locations. It also includes a tech-supported firewall and a wireless encryption system to protect your network from unauthorized wireless access.
Why should I buy this from EarthLink instead of a retail store?
You can absolutely go to a “big box” retailer and search for the individual components it takes to set up home networking, but EarthLink supplies you with everything, including service, the router, adapters, and support. Our experts will help you design the perfect network for your home, and you will have technical specialists available to you 24 hours a day.
Can EarthLink support my network even if I purchased a router somewhere else?
Of course we can! EarthLink can provide connection assistance and support for your network, even if you did not purchase your equipment from us. To learn more, call 1.800.327.8454 today to speak with one of our Home Networking Experts.
What kind of Home Networking does EarthLink offer?
EarthLink has 3 types of Home Networking: Wireless, Ethernet, and PowerLine™.
- Wireless Home Networking (Wi-Fi) uses low-frequency radio waves to transmit data between computers and other electronic devices. (up to 300Mbps)
- Ethernet Home Networking connects each computer and peripheral device via hard-wired, high-performance cables.
- PowerLine Home Networking uses your home’s electrical outlets and electrical wiring to connect your computers to the network, turning every electrical outlet in your home into a high-speed link to the Internet. (up to 85Mbps)
Will the router become obsolete in a few months?
Nope! Your EarthLink router includes free software upgrades and product enhancements. And you will be able to easily download upgrades through your EarthLink High Speed Internet connection!
As our blog post this Tuesday speculated, there’s a good chance tablets and smartphones may one day phase out laptops due to their superior mobility and convenience.
But at home, the thing that still makes all your computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones more convenient is a high-speed Internet connection and a Wi-Fi home network. I love my iPad, but I do all my Internet surfing at home over Wi-Fi rather than paying for a monthly cellular connection. It’s also required for some things like a FaceTime video chat.
If you are not sure how to get started with home networking and would like us to take care of it for you, you can sign up for our Home Networking service and support plan. For the cost of a couple of cups of coffee a month we can send you all the equipment you need, help you get set up properly, and provide ongoing support.
If you are trying, unsuccessfully, to set up Wi-Fi at home, or you are having problems with your home network, we have some general home networking troubleshooting recommendations from the EarthLink Support Center based on the most common problems and solutions we’ve seen over the years.
- The power indicator on your modem or router doesn’t light up after being plugged in.
What You Should Do:
- Check the power supply. Are the connections with your modem, router, and electrical outlet secure? Sometimes a plug that looks like it’s in isn’t really in fully.
- If you’re using a surge protector, make sure it’s turned on and working.
- Check that the electrical outlet you’re using is working by plugging in a night-light or lamp to see if it works.
- Try plugging the modem or router into another outlet.
- You can connect to your Wi-Fi network but aren’t able to browse the Internet
What You Should Do:
- Shut down/turn off your router and cable or DSL modem.
- Check all connections between your router and modem and make sure that all power cables are securely connected.
Ethernet users: Make sure that the Ethernet cable is securely connected to both the computer and modem from your router. Click here to see illustrations.
- Turn on the modem and wait approximately 30 seconds. Then turn on your router. Attempt to connect to the Internet again.
- If you still can’t get online, see if you can connect without the router (with only your modem and computer connected). Unplug the modem, wait for 10 seconds, then plug in the modem again. After the lights stabilize, see if you can browse the Internet:
- If you can surf the Internet with this setup, your router is either defective or needs to be reconfigured. Contact your router’s manufacturer to reconfigure your router.
- If you can’t surf the Internet this way, check to see if there is an Internet outage in your area. If not, refer to your modem’s setup instructions to reconfigure your modem.
- Your wireless network doesn’t show up on your computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
What You Should Do:
- Make sure that your wireless router and modem are both plugged in.
- Make sure that your Wi-Fi or wireless network utility is activated on the computer or mobile device you are using. There is often a Wi-Fi switch that you can toggle to turn on/off. Check your device’s manual if you are not sure how to do this.
- If your wireless network is private (and it should be for security reasons), refer to your setup configuration to provide your device with the network ID and password. You will need this information when you manually connect to your existing private wireless network.
- You’re continuously losing or dropping your Wi-Fi signal.
What You Should Do:
- Make sure that the Wi-Fi antenna is securely connected to your router and pointed straight up.
- Check your Wi-Fi signal strength by opening your Web browser (preferably Internet Explorer or Safari) and entering your router’s IP address. If you don’t know the IP address, look for it in your router’s manual.
- Make sure your router is not on or near electronic devices that can interfere with your wireless signal. Computer monitors, cell phones or cordless phones (handset or base), radios, halogen or fluorescent lights, and microwave ovens can all cause problems with Wi-Fi routers if they are too close.
- Move your router to an area where there is a better signal strength. Try placing your router closer to an outside wall or window. All homes are different, so trial and error is often the best way to find the strongest Wi-Fi home network connection.
- You can’t reach the modem or router login screen.
What You Should Do:
Make sure that your computer is set to use a dynamic or server-assigned IP address. Find out how to do that by clicking on How to Configure Your Network Control Panel for DHCP and following the instructions for your operating system (if you don’t know your Windows operating system, right-click on the My Computer icon and choose Properties).
- You do not have an Ethernet port on your computer.
What You Should Do:
- You will need to buy and install an Ethernet adapter (also called a network interface card or NIC) from a computer or electronics store.
Last week I offered some Wi-Fi performance tips for all you high-speed Internet users with a home network.
Today, as promised, it’s Wi-Fi security. Here are 10 security tips for you, so you can enjoy all the benefits of your Wi-Fi home network with peace of mind.
- Get a move on: Moving your router away from walls, into the center of your home will not only increase the performance of your home network, it will also help with Wi-Fi security (since your signal isn’t broadcast all over the neighborhood).
- Keeping default is your fault: Your Wi-Fi router probably arrived with a default SSID (network name), username and password. Change all these defaults immediately (or sooner).
- Get turned on: Your Wi-Fi router has built-in security settings. Make sure they are turned on. If there’s more than 1 security setting, make sure you choose WPA2 (next best choice would be WPA). Also, some routers come with built-in firewalls; if yours does, make sure it’s turned on too.
- The weakest link: The security level of your network is defined by the least secure device you use. So if you’ve got WPA2 security for your router, make sure devices connecting to your network are capable of WPA2. If you see Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ on a device, it is WPA2-capable.
- Step up to Wi-Fi Protected Setup: If you are buying a new router, look for a Wi-Fi Protected Setup logo on the box: this will make secure setup as simple as possible.
- Good passwords don’t make sense: Make sure your password isn’t in the dictionary or somehow related to you (like your name, address, birthday). Use at least 8 characters (even longer is better), upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Ideally it should look like gibberish. Then write it down and save it in a safe place.
- Don’t be a broadcaster: If you see an option on your router setting to Disable SSID Broadcast, click it. Then your Wi-Fi network will be a little bit harder for bad guys to find.
- Don’t be automatic: Make sure your computer isn’t set to automatically join open Wi-Fi networks and instead asks for your approval. This is most important with laptops away from home, but it can add to your home safety as well.
- Power up the protection: Don’t forget to use a firewall and other protection software on your computers. EarthLink members can download the EarthLink Protection Control Center for free, or purchase a low-cost subscription to Norton 360. Both have built-in firewalls, antivirus, anti-spyware, and other security features.
- Power off the network: If you’re going to be away from home for any extended amount of time, turn off your Wi-Fi router. Your network can’t be hacked if it isn’t on. And have a good trip!