Should You Set Up a Guest WiFi Network?

When you have family or friends over, especially for an extended period, they’re probably going to need WiFi access at some point. Giving your guests direct access isn’t always the best option, because it can compromise your WiFi network security. Your WiFi should be password protected to ensure hackers or neighbors don’t steal your WiFi, but giving your password out can open your network up to other vulnerabilities.

A guest WiFi network is the answer. A guest WiFi network works by providing access to people not on the network. Many public places – such as hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls – provide free WiFi to guests and patrons. Users merely have to ask a manager for the password, if there is one. 

You can set up a similar network in your home, where you are the manager.

Is Guest WiFi Safe?

Any device that needs access to the Internet may have security vulnerabilities that allow hackers into the network. Cell phones, tablets, gaming consoles, or even aquarium thermometers might leave an access point for malicious actors. Whether they are just stealing your Internet or attacking your entire home network, hackers will find a connected device that isn’t as secure and exploit it.

Your privacy is important. Hackers might steal your identity or access your finances, but there are also things on your network that you might not want guests or family to access. Some WiFi networks have guest network options that create a separate Internet connection with limited access. This means your data stays private from everyone that isn’t a part of your main network.

Guest WiFi means knowing that your home network is secure, even if your guests’ devices are not.

Preparing Your WiFi for Guest Access

Before you set up guest access in your home, there are a few steps you should take to ensure your WiFi can handle the extra use.

WiFi Dead Zones

Often there are “dead zones” where WiFi doesn’t reach an area of your home. There are two ways of dealing with this issue. The first is to ensure your router is in a centralized location in the home, and isn’t buried under wires, PC towers, or even papers. Your router is an antenna that broadcasts your signal, so you want that signal to reach as far as it can.

If the signal can’t reach the whole house even from a centralized location, you can use WiFi extenders to expand the covered area. WiFi extenders can pick up the signal and re-transmit it like a second antenna, or they can create a mesh network that distributes the signal to specific points.

Update Your Modem and Router

Modems and routers are usually combined into one machine these days, and usually leased to users by their Internet service provider (ISP). Updates to their drivers and firmware, the software inside them that does all the work, are usually sent automatically when they are available. It never hurts to check, though, which you can do on your service provider’s website.

If you own your own modem and router, you need to update it yourself. You can go to the manufacturer’s website to check for updates, or use a driver update app.

Know What’s on Your Network

Every device on your network uses a little bit of bandwidth, and it all adds up. Your Internet service provider has a portal that will have a list of all the devices connected to your network, from PCs to light bulbs. You can also get a wireless network watcher dedicated to the task. This can help you detect unwanted intruders and monitor your own home use. Keeping an eye on what devices are on your network can also help keep it from getting overloaded when guests visit.

How to Set Up Guest WiFi

Setting up your guest WiFi network is simple. 

  1. Access your router settings. Some ISPs have a web interface that you can access from your account. Otherwise, you just need to know your web address, and enter it into the address bar of your browser. You may need to login to your router if you access it this way.
  2. Look for a section called “guest WiFi” or “wireless settings.” This should take you to a very simple page.
  3. Click “enable wireless” or whatever option is similar. This will usually be a box you check.
  4. Name your guest network. The name is called the SSID, and there should be a list for you to create guest networks. Many routers have default names, and some allow multiple networks.
  5. Give your guest network a password that’s easy to remember. Since getting to this page is simple, so is changing the password if it becomes compromised.
  6. Set any restrictions. These might include parental controls, limits on how many devices can be online on the network at one time, or whether or not the devices can see each other.

Have Fast, Reliable Internet Service

A reliable Internet service provider takes care of most of these things for you. If you lease your modem/router from your ISP, you can be sure it will always be updated. Users should also have simple access to their device list and data use when their ISP is a solid provider. Even with a custom router, you should be able to access your router settings quickly and easily.

How do you know if you have the best Internet available in your area? You compare plans and prices by putting your zip code here or calling 1-833-933-2468. Before your next guests come over, make sure you have a network that’s available for them and safe for you!