How to Set Up Guest Access on Wireless Network

By David Weedmark

Let visitors access the Internet from your Wi-Fi router using a Guest network, separate from your computer's network.

Setting up a guest network is a good way to let your friends enjoy access to the Internet without having access to your own network and the devices connected to it. Security is just as important on a guest network as it is on any other network, so use WPA2 encryption and a strong password.

Accessing the Router

To create a guest network, you need access to your router's admin panel. If you used software that came with your router to set up your Wi-Fi network, use that software. Otherwise, launch a Web browser and enter your router's IP address in the address bar and press Enter. While you can find the IP address using your computer, most routers use 192.168.0.1, 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.2.1.

Log in to the admin panel. If you haven't changed the admin login, the username and password are usually both "admin" or the username is blank and the password is "admin." This varies not just between manufacturers but by model.

Accessing Guest Network Settings

On a D-Link router, click the Advanced tab and click Guest Zone.

If you have a Linksys router, click the Wireless tab and select Guest Access.

On a NETGEAR router, click the Guest Access Tool.

Enabling Guest Access

D-Link Security Mode menu

Enable the Guest Access option, which may be called the Guest Zone or Guest Network, depending on the router model.

Allow the router to broadcast the SSID, or Wireless Network Name, so your guests can find the network. If the option isn't there, the SSID will be broadcast by default. Most routers allow you to change the SSID name to something unique. In the case of Linksys routers, whatever name you choose will followed by a "-guest" suffix.

Some routers, including D-Link and NETGEAR, include an option to allow guests to see each other's devices and to access your local network, or route between zones. Only advanced users should enable this feature, since it usually defeats the purpose of creating a guest network. Without this option enabled, guest users have access to the Internet, but not any other computers on the main network.

On a D-Link router, set the Security Mode to WPA-Personal to make the network security options visible.

Setting Up Security

D-Link WPA options

Set the WPA Mode to WPA2 Only, or WPA2-PSK [AES]. While most routers offer a WPA or WPA-WPA2 mixed mode, nearly all computers and Wi-Fi devices today support the more modern and stronger WPA2 encryption.

Enter a password that's at least 8 characters long using letters and/or numbers. Longer passwords are more secure than shorter passwords. Random letters and numbers are more secure than words or names. If you're not sure how strong your desired password is, take a look at this infographic.

Click the Save or Apply button and then test the new guest network on a computer or other Wi-Fi device.