Most colleges and universities provide free internet access for their students. But on-campus WiFi isn’t always reliable. Suppose you have a deadline for a research paper, or you’re trying to polish up that midterm presentation when suddenly your WiFi connection drops. When you’re sharing your wireless signal with a student body vying for bandwidth to stream, game, browse, and video chat, you may encounter slow connection speeds and spotty coverage.
Ready to learn how to get better WiFi in your college dorm room? See how incorporating your own router can help. We’ll explain how to set up a router and make sure it’s safe and secure from outside threats and hackers.
How to get better WiFi in a dorm
Adding a private router can increase your WiFi network’s speed and reliability. Before investing in a router to boost the WiFi for your dorm room, check that your school allows it. Some colleges have strict policies against it, while others allow it as long as you set up and register your router correctly.
So, what is a router, and how is it different from a modem? A modem is a device that brings a hard-wired connection via your Ethernet cable into your dorm or apartment. A router wirelessly transmits the internet connection from the modem to multiple devices or users.
What are the benefits of getting a router for my dorm room?
Many students choose to install their own WiFi router in their dorm rooms because it boosts speeds and offers added security and reliability—all essential to the daily life of a college student. If you think adding your own dorm router sounds intimidating, rest assured it’s easier than learning to do laundry.
A private network provides greater security and privacy. Data only transmits through your network rather than the broader network shared by the rest of the campus. Having your own personalized login information to connect to your router gives you an extra security layer and reduces the odds of anyone else gaining access to your private information.
Another benefit of a private router is the bandwidth it allows. What is bandwidth? Imagine a multi-lane freeway is your network, and the cars traveling it are pieces of data. When too many cars merge onto the freeway, traffic slows or sometimes comes to a complete stop. The more traffic, the longer it takes the cars to get from point A to point B. The same goes for wireless internet traffic. When too many users are on one network, things slow down for everyone. Having your own router can help you find the fastest route. You won’t have to worry about buffering when binge-watching your favorite show instead of working on that thesis paper. Don’t worry—your secret is safe with us!
How do I know what type of router to get?
If you’re considering getting your own dorm room router, you may be wondering, “Which router should I buy?” Since dorm rooms are typically small, you don’t need the broad coverage or multi-user access that a larger household typically requires. We recommend choosing a smaller router that fits your needs and makes sense for your budget.
Learn more about which routers and modems are right for you.
Setting up your dorm room router
After purchasing your router, it’s time to set it up. Your dorm or apartment should have an Ethernet wall port labeled “ENET” or “Data” that looks like a telephone jack but is a bit wider. It may even share an outlet with the cable jack. This port is where you’ll receive your internet connection.
Your router will have a port where the Ethernet cable plugs in. You may need to buy a CAT 5 or CAT 6 Ethernet cable to get started, although that often comes with your new router. Plug one end of the cable into the Ethernet wall port and the other end into the port on your router, which may be labeled “WAN,” “Internet,” or simply “Ethernet,” and is often a different color like yellow or green.
Next, see if your computer can access the wireless network. There should be a sticker on your new router that shows the default login information. You can also find this information in the instruction manual. Find your SSID (Service Set Identifier), also known as the WiFi network name, on your computer or device. Enter the username and password, typically printed on your router or in the user guide, to continue the login process. Once logged in, you know all the cables are connected in the right places and you’re ready to get online!
Get connected and secure your dorm router
Now that your router is up and running, make sure your connection stays secure. You’ll want to change the default login information you used during the initial setup to keep hackers at bay.
You’ll find your router’s IP address on the back of your router, where you found the default information or in the instruction manual (most IP addresses look something like 192.168.1.1.). Input your router’s IP address into a window browser. That will lead you to your router’s admin page, which is like a control panel for settings and configuration. Your login information should be in the instruction manual. You can also find it on the router brand website—simply search for the default username and password on their website.
The location for changing your username and password may vary depending on the router’s brand. You may find it under Wireless Settings or on the main page. If you still can’t find it, check your instruction manual. When creating a new username, have fun with it but make sure it’s a strong password that can’t easily be guessed. Avoid using personal information like your birthday or home address as your password. Instead, think of a mix of characters, numbers, and letters.
Now you’re ready to connect all your devices to your new WiFi network. Remember to only give your WiFi password to friends you trust to keep your connection fast and secure. With your newly enhanced internet speed, you can get that research paper turned in on time, make that video presentation sing, and still find time to binge your favorite show or challenge your roommates to a game of battle royale!