Wireless Internet Connections - Are they worth it?

Discussion in 'Thread Games & Totally Random...' started by Charmed, Dec 28, 2005.

  1. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    Having two teenagers, one who is 'addicted' to the internet, and a husband who enjoys Ladbrokes.com (not a serious problem, honest), I find the only time I can get on the computor is in the early morning when everyone else is still in bed. My daughter keeps asking for the wireless internet connection so she can be even more anti-social in her bedroom! My question is, Do they last? The few people who I have known to have this have said they are great to start with, no arguments about who is on next etc. However, it appears that after only a few months, this 'amazing' device stops working and everyone is back to competing for the 'hot seat' on the main computer.

    Does anyone know anything about these wireless 'thingybobby's'? Do they last?

    I'm getting fed up of only getting on the computer first thing in the morning unless I want a huge disagreement!! :icon_cry:
     
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  3. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

    I'm far from being an expert in wireless internet, as I don't yet have one myself, but I have a number of colleagues who do use them at home and they say they are great. We even have a couple in the office, although I don't use them from my own laptop.

    I see no reason why they shouldn't last? I guess it is possible that the wireless transmitter may wear out after a while but I shouldn't have thought that it would be as quick as you have been told - but like I say, I don't really have any first hand experience!

    My advice would be to suck it and see - wireless routers aren't terrible expensive these days and if it helps get you on t'internet more often with less arguments (even if only for a few months!) then that is money well spent :icon_cheesygrin:

    Good luck!

    DaveR
     
  4. Brian Bowen

    Brian Bowen Active Member

    My wife has used a wireless connection at home for her laptop and it's been working for well over a year. It may slow things down a bit at times and the reception may vary from room to room (partly because of distances from the router). We use a Netgear Wireless Router (54 Mbps WGR614 v4) and have a broadband internet connection.
     
  5. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    I've had a wireless setup in my house for over a year. There's no reason why it should stop working as long as it's installed properly. We have three computers in the house (the "main" computer in my home office, my daughter's desktop machine, and a laptop). It's quite convenient, as we are able to share printers, scanners, etc over the network as well as everyone getting to the Internet via our cable connection.

    Warning to everyone with wireless access: ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS secure your network with WEP or other protection. You do not want your home network to become a portal for hackers and spammers. It's very likely that someone could make a connection to your network from outside your house without you even knowing, so use an encrypted protocol for all wireless transmissions and protect your router access as many ways as possible.
     
  6. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    What he says. I've had a wireless connection for our laptops for a couple of years. We have 2 laptops and two desktops which are connected through the wireless router and have very few problems. Occasionally the wireless connections can be slow - the technology doesn't seem to allow for the same high speeds as a wired conncection - and sometimes other radiation emitting devices can slow you down, but generally I'd say yes. Make sure you have a fast broadband connection and you shouldn't have too many problems.

    As to hackers. Make absolutely sure you set up the WEP security. These days, people can sit outside your house in a car and hack into your system in moments - if you are unprotected. You must use a proper firewall, do not allow any of your kids or your hubby to set up a DMZ (de-militarised zone) and use every level of security, virus, spam and hacker defence that you can get your hands on.

    Good luck with it.
     
  7. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    Thanks for the comments. I think if I do decide to go this way I will have to get someone who knows all about what a few have you have mentioned re security! You have scared me now!!!

    I am on broadband but couldn't tell you what 'speed' it is. As for 'firewalls', well I have heard of them but would not know how to set one up. I do have security via Norton, but could not tell you what this protects.

    Time to bring in the experts I think???
     
  8. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    Wouldn't claim to be an expert, but my job is PC support, and I've had one at home for a fair while. The more you use (or abuse) these things the more you learn!
    [/QUOTE]
     
  9. Ghostie

    Ghostie New Member

    There are a plethora of different equipments now available, especially on eBay and other similar sites.

    The best recommendation (from someone who is in the business of setting these up almost daily) is to buy new equipment (second hand stuff has been found to have been tampered with in the past) and make sure you use the WPA-PSK TKIP security option - WEP is just not good enough any more...

    If you would like some more advice, please pm and I'll try and help you out with specifics.

    Ghostie
     
  10. Lisa

    Lisa Member

    So how do you set up these WEP thingies? We have a 5 of us sharing a wireless connection in our house and I have noticed a thing about WEP somewhere on the settings (although I can't find it now!) and have always thought that I should find out what it does as it sounded important...but I never have found out!
     
  11. Ghostie

    Ghostie New Member

    The easy bit is configuring your PC. Assuming you are using Windows XP, click on Start > Control Panel > Network Connections.

    Select the wireless connection. Right Click and choose properties. This should bring up a dialogue box with 3 tabs across the top (General, Wireless Networks and Advanced).

    Click on the Wireless Networks tab. Near the bottom of the box you should see the listing of your preferred networks.

    You need to select your network, then choose properties. (Assuming you still have the default network name - also called SSID - it will probably be something similar to "belkin54g". This is dependant on the manufacturer of your wireless equipment)

    Once you click on the Properties button, another box will appear. This contains the security settings options. The network authentication, encryption type and Network Key (password) are set in here.

    The recommended setting is to use Wi-fi Protected Access (WPA) - Pre Shared Key (PSK) authentication. This is much stronger than WEP. You should also choose Temporary Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) for encryption. This allows the system to change the encryption automatically as a further security measure.

    Having confirmed all these settings, choose OK. You may have to log off and log back on to reset the Network Connection.

    That is the pc configured!

    The Wireless Access Point (which probably combines the Router and broadband modem as well) needs to know that you are going to use encryption. You will have to configure the access point BEFORE the pc, otherwise you won't get access to it again!

    To configure the Access Point, most equipment allows you to change the settings from the pc. Try opening an Internet Explorer (or other web browser) window, and type the IP address of the access point into the address bar. Normally, the IP address is something like: 192.168.0.1

    Each manufacturer has a slightly different way to configure the Wireless Security, but by using the settings as described above, hopefully it should be easy to work out! Don't forget you will have to re-boot the Access Point once you have changed the settings.

    Once the Access Point is done, you won't get access to it from the pc until you enable the security settings as described at the top!!

    Apologies for the long-winded answer, but this is still only a guide. If you don't feel confident enough to do this on your own, send me a pm and I'll try and help you further.

    Ghostie
     
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  13. yonhee

    yonhee Active Member

    We have three laptops and a desktop using wireless connections well I dont think the desktop is. But it all works fine and means I can play on the internet. And we have it secured although according to my uncle you cant actually get into their computers you just use some of their bandwidth.
     
  14. Ghostie

    Ghostie New Member

    If somebody can get access to your wireless router to "steal" your bandwidth, you can be sure that the facility exists for someone who is technically competent to access your pc (I've done it to my own system, to find where the security weaknesses are!). Even if you are using WEP, there is still a small risk (It's a small risk because of the likelihood of someone capable enough being within the range of your access point - about 200m max).

    The risk with WEP is that the encryption is based on a fixed set of information. Switching to the WPA-PSK method means that, depending on settings, the authentication is re-negotiated many times during a period of data transfer.

    The two most effective ways to deny the casual "hacker" access to your system is to prevent the broadcasting of your SSID (network name) and to use WPA-PSK encryption based on TKIP. You should, of course, have changed the SSID and passwords from the manufacturer's defaults - I find that too many people leave all the settings as default, and therefore allows everyone to know what they are up against. By hiding the SSID, changing the default password (if there even was one!) and using encryption, you will deter almost all attempts at accessing your connection - if someone really wants access, they will move off to an easier target!!

    Ghostie
     
  15. Ghostie

    Ghostie New Member

    GEEK ALERT - Anyone who does not know what an IP address is, please skip this post!!

    As a technical aside for those more IT-oriented, you can further increase the security by using subnet masking and changing the range of the IP address. Turn off DHCP, allocate a static IP address to each equipment, then subnet down as far as you can e.g. a subnet mask of 255.255.255.252 will only allow 2 equipments within the network - i.e. a pc and the access point. For those who may have up to 6 equipments, use a 255.255.255.248 subnet.

    The reason for changing the subnet mask like this? If the IP address is fixed, an intruder cannot get into the system without causing an IP conflict - most firewall software prevents access in this event. If you have only got a laptop and an access point, no-one else can join your network, becuase your network is already full!!!

    If anyone would like more information regarding their network, send me a pm and I will get back to you with a more detailed answer.

    Ghostie
     
  16. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    Up And Running - At Last!!!

    Well, we have now got the wireless internet connection up and running! 2 days it's taken! :eek:

    Yesterday I had a bit of a do for my son's birthday with family, but having received his new computer then, and after setting it all up, he tried to set up the wireless internet connection. Of course, you had to have your password (which I never remember unless using them on a daily basis) and username from the current connection for the wireless connection. As I could not remember, I told him to leave it until today and I would contact my ISP and get all the relevant info.

    I telephoned tesco this morning on the free number only to be told as I was an existing member I had to telephone a different number (one that costs, naturally). Having finally discovered my username and password we then proceeded to install the wireless connection. 2 hours later, we still couldn't connect my son's computer, so I telephoned the helpdesk for the router. Finally after being on the telephone to them for 1 hour and 20 minutes :)eek: ) we finally got the connection working.

    Great. Fantastic. :tup

    However, when I tried to connect to my emails, Outlook Express, there was no connection. :mad: Another 20 minute telephone call to the helpdesk, and this was sorted.

    The reason I have mentioned all this is because my own broadband provider, which I pay a monthly fee to, charges for 'help'. The wireless connection system I bought, has a FREE helpline, thank god or I would have been another £50 down with the 2 telephone calls to them. They even conferenced a call to tescos to get another username and password!!!!

    So if anyone is thinking of purchasing a wireless internet connection system, I would recommend LINKSYS. The system cost me £70 for the router and 1 receiver. I can call them anytime there is a problem, free. How often do you get this kind of service from other computer, internet, systems.

    Well done LINKSYS. :clap:
     
  17. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    Aaagghhhhhhh!

    The remote computer connection has gone down, I've just spent 59.7 minutes waiting for an operater at Lynksys to respond only to finally be put through to a support technician who is not trained to deal with UK equipment!!!!!

    He wanted to get the UK technicians to phone back in 1 hr, unfortunately I have to go out before then. So now I will have to phone back later this evening.

    Maybe Lynksey's is not as excellent as I originally thought. :mad:
     
  18. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    Crikey Sue, it seems as though you're having a nightmare re your wireless setup.

    I have had a wifi network setup here at home (Linksys router) for nearly 4 years now, without a hitch. Each new machine that comes to the house connects easily, my new iPAQ hw6515 connects easily - even with an addon SD wifi card, my older iPAQ model 4700 connects easily, all the laptops (4) in the house connect (we're all internet geeks, even Heather!!) and the two PC's I have running connect fine - all at the same time too if need be!

    So... are you sorted on this yet?
     
  19. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    Nope, when I got in last night I couldnt face hanging on the phone for an hour!

    Today I've been out all day, and you've just reminded me that this needs fixing! :eek:

    Oh well, he can wait until tomorrow evening now. I've had a hard day shopping! :biggrin:
     
  20. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    You are not alone, Susan.

    I was quite happy with my Belkin router and 54g card, but the upstairs laptop was having problems so we upgraded. We went for a 240Mbps Netgear router with appropriate cards.

    Needless to say, the upstairs laptop worked fine, but mine wouldn't work at all. Eventually, we figured (with little help from Netgear) that it was my Wifi card that was faulty, but it also appeared to have damaged something in my Laptop. The difficulty is in proving it! The new card works, but we can't (or I can't) use the auto channel switching feature because it causes problems on my Sony laptop - it interferes with USB and other peripherals and frequently collapses. Obviously, I've turned that feature off now, but it would have been useful as another deterrent to hackers.

    Anyway, it is fast! Keep persevering. It'll be worth it in the end.
     

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