WiFi Security Tips from EarthLink

WiFi Security is important, so here are EarthLink’s top 7 tidbits of advice:

  1. Customize Settings: Your WiFi router probably arrived with a default network name (called your SSID) and log in info (username/password). Change all of these to be custom the first time you use your router.
  2. Nonsense passwords are strong passwords: If your password is something relating to your life (“welovebaseball”) or a birth date, or even easy to remember, change it.  Make sure it has at least 8 characters and is impossible to remember (though DO remember to write it down and store it in a secure place).
  3. Get turned on: Your WiFi router has built-in security settings, so make sure they are active. (If there are multiple possibler settings, select WPA2 or, if that isn’t available, WPA.
  4. Don’t Broadcast: If your router options include “Disable SSID Broadcast“, make sure it’s selected.
  5. Center your Router: Move your router away from walls, as close as possible to the center of your home to both increase the performance of your network and stop “bleed” (the broadcast of your signal outside of its intended area), so fewer people have access to it and your WiFi security is stronger.
  6. Protect from Your Computer: EarthLink members can download the EarthLink Protection Control Center (it’s free!), or purchase a low-cost subscription to Norton 360. These products include built-in firewalls, antivirus, and anti-spyware features.

Which Internet Connection Are You?

Like favorite colors, everyone has an internet connection that fits them best.  Find out which connection YOU are with this fun guide:

You are DIAL-UP if…
…you want internet that is basic, universal, and inexpensive.  Dial-upinternet is a good choice for basic web users.  It isn’t the fastest internet connection available (though EarthLink does provide a free dial-up accelerator that lets you surf up to 7x faster than regular 56K dial-up), but it can be installed into any home in America with a phone line.  And it’s incredibly cost-effective: Prices are as low as $9.95/mo for the first three months!

You are DSL if…
…you need a reliable connection, but require more speed than dial-up (to watch a lot of videos, stream content, etc). DSL internet is up to 100x faster than dial-up access, and is perfect for those who spend a lot of time online.  With low pricing like $14.95/mo for the first three months, it’s also a great value!

You are CABLE if…
…you like to spend a lot of time downloading/uploading content, streaming full-length movies, playing detailed online games, (etc.). Though offers vary by location, a cable internet connection can start at only $29.95/mo, and can be up to 250x faster than dial-up access.  It’s a great solution for people who feel the need for online speed!

(NOTE: if you live in a rural area that doesn’t have access to cable or DSL, but desire more speed than dial-up, EarthLink offers satellite internet to make sure your needs get met!)

Kindle Fire: So Hot, It’s Sold Out

If you have a high-speed Internet connection at home (either DSL or cable Internet), you’ve probably set up a Wi-Fi home network so you can connect all around the house on your laptop.

You may also use your home Wi-Fi network to browse the Internet with your smartphone or tablet.

But there’s another device that’s great to use with your high-speed Internet home network, and that device was in the news this morning.

Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet

Sold Out...But Stay Tuned.

It’s Amazon’s Kindle Fire (which lets you browse the Web whenever you’re connected to Wi-Fi).

So, why is the Kindle Fire in the news today?

Because Amazon announced earlier this morning that the Kindle Fire:

  • is the most successful product launch in Amazon.com’s history
  • has earned over 10,000 5-star reviews
  • has been the #1 best-selling product on Amazon.com since it was introduced about 9 months ago
  • has captured 22% of tablet sales in the U.S.
  • is now sold out

That’s right: sold out. As in, no more Kindle Fire. Forever.

But don’t fret if you’ve been putting off buying one.

Amazon is holding a press event in Los Angeles next Thursday, September 6, and there are lots of rumors about Amazon announcing a new line of Kindle Fires.

PCWorld.com has a list of 5 things that would make the new Kindle Fire a big hit.

Do you have a Kindle Fire or other Kindle? Are you thinking about buying one? Or are you a fan of another tablet? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments section below.

Wi-Fi Home Network Troubleshooting Tips

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.

Wi-Fi home networking from EarthLinkBut 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.

Your Problem:

  • The power indicator on your modem or router doesn’t light up after being plugged in.

What You Should Do:

  1. 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.
  2. If you’re using a surge protector, make sure it’s turned on and working.
  3. Check that the electrical outlet you’re using is working by plugging in a night-light or lamp to see if it works.
  4. Try plugging the modem or router into another outlet. 

Your Problem:

  • You can connect to your Wi-Fi network but aren’t able to browse the Internet

What You Should Do:

  1. Shut down/turn off your router and cable or DSL modem.
  2. 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.
  3. Turn on the modem and wait approximately 30 seconds. Then turn on your router. Attempt to connect to the Internet again.
  4. 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 Problem:

  • Your wireless network doesn’t show up on your computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

What You Should Do:

  1. Make sure that your wireless router and modem are both plugged in.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 

Your Problem:

  • You’re continuously losing or dropping your Wi-Fi signal.

What You Should Do:

  1. Make sure that the Wi-Fi antenna is securely connected to your router and pointed straight up.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Your Problem:

  • 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).

 Your Problem:

  • 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.