Wireless networking tips – setup and maintain your wireless LAN
Wireless networks are becoming more and more popular each day. As compared to wired networks, these allow users more freedom as they can move around in their work environment and remain connected to the network at the same time. New users can be added very easily and it is cheaper to maintain a wireless network. Following wireless networking tips will help you setup and maintain your wireless LAN.
WLAN requirements: Setting up a wireless network is quite simple. You will need wireless adapters installed in the PCs. Mostly new laptops come with a wireless adapter installed. If not, wireless cards for notebooks are easily available as well. Also you will use a wireless access point to which all computers will connect. The access point has typically some ports for wired LAN which can help if a user does not have a wireless LAN card as well and a port for Internet connection.
This way the access point connects all the LAN users to each other and also provides them Internet access. Configuring an access point is also quite simple. You assign an IP and subnet to it which should not be conflict with the IP of the internet connection. The access point will run DHCP server and assign IP addresses to all the wireless computers which intend to join it.
Improving WLAN performance: If possible, place the access point in a central location of your office. If the access point is placed against an outside wall, the signal will be week on the other side of your office. Metal, walls and floor will interfere with your routerâ€™s wireless signals. Such obstruction will weaken your connectivity and reduce the data rates. The antennas supplied with the router are typically Omni directional which means they broadcast in all directions.
If the router has to be placed near an outside wall, half of the wireless signals will be sent outside your office wasting much of your router’s power. You can replace the Omni antennas with high gain antennas which focuses wireless signal in on direction only. Wireless routers can broadcast on many channels. Select the channel where you get the maximum signal strength so your network runs on optimum level.
Securing Wireless LAN: A wireless network is more difficult to secure than a typical wired network as it can be accessed from anywhere within the range of the antennas. Deploying an insecure WLAN can result in loss of service or your network being used as a launching pad for attach on other networks. To secure the WLAN, the first step is to minimize the range. AP should be placed in the centre of the area you want to cover.
Do not place it next to a glass window as glass cannot stop signal propagation. Using WEP (Wireless Encryption Protocol) can be very helpful. Enable it as soon as you setup your WLAN to deter casual hackers. You can also disable DHCP and define a pool of users who can connect to the AP. This way the intruder will have to guess you IP addressing scheme as well to become a part of your network.