New To Mac-Forums?

Welcome to our community! Join the discussion today by registering your FREE account. If you have any problems with the registration process, please contact us!

Get your questions answered by community gurus Advice and insight from world-class Apple enthusiasts Exclusive access to members-only contests, giveaways and deals

Join today!

 
Start a Discussion
 

Mac-Forums Brief

Subscribe to Mac-Forums Brief to receive special offers from Mac-Forums partners and sponsors

Join the conversation RSS
Internet, Networking, and Wireless Discussion of networking, internet, and wireless including Apple's Airport products.

Wireless Networking FAQ


Post Reply New Thread Subscribe

 
Thread Tools
cwa107

 
cwa107's Avatar
 
Member Since: Dec 20, 2006
Location: Middletown, Pennsylvania
Posts: 26,500
cwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond repute
Mac Specs: 15" MBP, Core i7/2GHz, 8GB RAM, 480GB Crucial M500 SSD

cwa107 is offline
With more and more people buying notebooks and setting up home networks, the Mac-Forums community fields quite a few questions related to Wireless technology. The goal of this guide is to address some of the more common problem areas related to wireless networking and also to educate you in some key areas in order to keep your connection running smoothly.

--

Wireless issues can generally be separated into three key areas, addressed in the following sections below:

Range and Interference

The location and placement of your wireless router can dramatically impact the effective range of your wireless network. Your router should be placed as centrally within your home as possible, and should be propped up as high as possible. An ideal location in a two-story home would be on the 2nd floor, up on top of a shelf in a room that is central within the house – even if you’re objective is to get a better signal in your basement. If you can’t locate the router centrally, it’s usually best to keep the router away from outside walls – this keeps the signal within your home and not projecting outward, away from it.

Once your router is placed as ideally as possible, given the location of your computers and other network gear, it’s time to take a serious assessment of other devices that radiate signals that might interfere. By far, two of the biggest sources of interference are cordless phones (especially those that run on the 2.4GHz band) and microwave ovens. If you have a cordless phone or microwave, it’s best to keep the router away from it. Screen doors and other materials comprised of wire mesh can also detract from wireless performance.

Your router is equipped with means to overcome interference from other RF devices that operate on a similar frequency. Nearly all routers offer the ability to change the wireless channel that they operate on. Changing the channel alters the frequency slightly – for example, from 2.423 GHz to 2.433 GHz. Typically a small shift in frequency is enough to keep your router’s wireless signal from conflicting with another router in your neighborhood or another device that works on the same frequency.

Firmware Issues

Wireless routers are small computers that run an operating system much like your computer runs Mac OS X. As such, most wireless vendors provide regular updates that include bug fixes and security patches, as well as occasional feature updates. If you are experiencing problems with intermittent connections that require a reboot of the router, it’s possible that your router needs a firmware update. Firmware is much like software in that it is updateable via a utility built into your router’s configuration program. When a firmware update is needed, you will download the update from the vendor’s website, then log into the router and upload the update file to the router.

Wireless Security

Wireless security is by far the most misunderstood aspect of wireless networking technology. Out of the box, most wireless routers have no security enabled. This helps to make establishing an initial connection easier by removing a degree of complexity. It is up to the user to establish some form of security once the initial setup is complete.

When a wireless connection is unsecured, not only is your network and Internet connection freely available to anyone within range of your router, all transmissions to and from the wireless router are transmitted in plain text. Any relatively savvy user can intercept things like passwords, banking information and credit card numbers with ease. Another possible risk (depending on your local government) is that someone can use your Internet connection to send Spam, visit illegal websites or even set up a server to distribute illegal materials. With that in mind, it is absolutely essential to establish a secure network.

The original wireless security protocol is called WEP. It is available in 2 different flavors - 64-bit and 128-bit, which are indicative of the strength of the encryption. Additionally, many people use a technology known as “MAC filtering”, which specifies what network adapters are allowed to talk to the network. These technologies, whether used in tandem or separately, are largely ineffective. Recent developments in readily available hacking tools can thwart a WEP secured connection within minutes. It is highly recommended that you move to a stronger encryption method if you are currently using WEP.

“MAC filtering” (referenced above) is sometimes used in tandem with WEP or by itself. When MAC filtering is enabled, your router will only allow traffic emanating from a specific computer (or computers). MAC filtering is totally ineffective as a means of security because it is very simple to “spoof” a MAC address (the address your network card uses to identify itself on a network). As a hacker, once you’ve been able to determine the allowed MAC addresses (done by “sniffing” packets), you then wait for one of the allowed addresses to drop off the network – then you join the network with that particular MAC address.

Most routers and network cards made since late 2002 support another means of security known as WPA. WPA is a strong, yet easy to use, encryption method. You configure WPA by logging into your router’s configuration web page (or program) and select it from the list of choices under the Wireless Security settings area. Once you’ve set WPA as the encryption choice, you then choose a “passphrase” (sometimes just referred to as a “password”). You should choose a non-English word that includes symbols or numbers so that it cannot be easily broken. Once the password is set on the router, the next time you try to connect with one of your wireless computers, you will be prompted for a password. Enter the password you chose and you should be connected securely.

WPA2 is another variant of WPA that is updated for better speed and security. It works very much in the same way as WPA, but is only supported by newer routers (2004+). If your router offers WPA2, you should choose it instead of WPA.

Another means of securing a wireless network is to choose to disable “SSID broadcast”. Every router has what is known as an SSID (substation ID). This is the router’s name that it broadcasts so that when you look for a wireless network, it shows up in a list of available networks. Traditional wisdom states that you should disable SSID broadcast to obscure your network, thereby forcing someone to guess the network name when attempting to connect. Unfortunately, the SSID is still easy to find using wireless “sniffer” programs that look for obscured or distant networks. So by enabling SSID, the net result is that you achieve no better security, but make it more difficult for your computer to find and maintain a connection with your wireless router. It’s highly recommended that you do not disable SSID broadcast.

FAQ:


Q: How do I access my router’s configuration options?
A: Like with many things, the process will vary depending on the make and model of your router. Typically this is done by connecting a computer via an Ethernet connection to the back of your router directly. Then, open a web browser (like Safari or Firefox) and typing the IP address of the router in the address bar. The IP address, username and password for logging into the router’s configuration page is typically listed in your router’s manual.

Q: Do I need to buy an AirPort wireless base station to use my Mac wirelessly?
A: Absolutely not. Although the AirPort is a decent wireless router, it conforms to the 802.11(a/b/g/n) specification like any other wireless device. These devices are designed to be interoperable. A wireless device can not be described to be 802.11-capable if it does not conform to the 802.11 standards for interoperability.

Q: What wireless vendors support Macs?
A: D-Link and Belkin officially support Macs. Linksys and Netgear do not. That doesn’t mean your can’t use a Netgear or Linksys router (or any other brand for the matter), but if you need help with your router, don’t expect the help desk to assist once you tell them you’re on a Mac.

Q: My Mac connects just fine without security, it’s only when I enable security that it has problems. What gives?
A: Recent security updates have been known to be problematic with some wireless security standards. If you are having difficulty, upgrade your firmware to the latest version. Enable WPA2 if you’re using WPA.

Q: I’m having trouble maintaining a consistent connection recently. I didn’t change anything, what can the problem be?
A: It’s possible that your neighbor hooked up a new router that is conflicting with your router. You should try changing the wireless channel to something different. If you’d like to see what other wireless networks are available in your neighborhood, try the AirPort Radar widget. The AirPort Radar widget will sniff out other networks in your area and tell you what channel and what kind of security they use.

Q: What with all of this 'b' 'g' and 'n' stuff? What's the difference and why should I care?
A: b/g/n are all different varieties of the 802.11 standard which are all interoperable. B runs at 11Mb/s, G runs at 54Mb/s, and N runs at a theoretical rate of 248Mb/s. Each will vary depending on conditions and range. Although each standard is backward compatible, if you connect a 'g' device to an 'n' network, the network will only function at 'g' speeds. For most people who simply want to share an Internet connection, 'g' will work just fine. Even the fastest cable modem connections only run at 6-10Mb/s, so you'd never be able to saturate the bandwidth alloted by a 'g'-based network (54Mb/s). If you intend to purchase an AppleTV or stream video amongst the computers on your network, then it may make sense to go with an 'n' based router (assuming your network adapter supports it).

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
QUOTE Thanks
cwa107

 
cwa107's Avatar
 
Member Since: Dec 20, 2006
Location: Middletown, Pennsylvania
Posts: 26,500
cwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond repute
Mac Specs: 15" MBP, Core i7/2GHz, 8GB RAM, 480GB Crucial M500 SSD

cwa107 is offline
I just ran into this article, from none other than Microsoft, but I found it to be excellent as it illustrates many of the points I've made in the FAQ. See "Ten tips for Improving Your Wireless Network".

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
QUOTE Thanks
Hinde

 
Member Since: Jan 22, 2008
Posts: 1
Hinde is on a distinguished road

Hinde is offline
can anyone help with my wireless problems? this has sort of been covered by thread above, but the answer doesn't help me. I have a netgear router and my Mac OS X cannot recognise the WEP password (10 digit numerical password chosen). The other two non-Mac computers have no problems. Mine just says that there was an error connecting to the Airport Network and no matter how much we play around with the settings, nothing works. Netgear have been paricularly unhelpful and am becoming increasingly frustrated! The only time I have been able to connect is when the security is disabled and this is not an option as we live in a flat so it is likely that neighbours will try to piggyback. Does anyone have any suggestions? I dont want to mess around with settings too much when I dont know what the problem is as this obviously affects the other laptops' connections. Help!
QUOTE Thanks
cwa107

 
cwa107's Avatar
 
Member Since: Dec 20, 2006
Location: Middletown, Pennsylvania
Posts: 26,500
cwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond repute
Mac Specs: 15" MBP, Core i7/2GHz, 8GB RAM, 480GB Crucial M500 SSD

cwa107 is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hinde View Post
can anyone help with my wireless problems? this has sort of been covered by thread above, but the answer doesn't help me. I have a netgear router and my Mac OS X cannot recognise the WEP password (10 digit numerical password chosen). The other two non-Mac computers have no problems. Mine just says that there was an error connecting to the Airport Network and no matter how much we play around with the settings, nothing works. Netgear have been paricularly unhelpful and am becoming increasingly frustrated! The only time I have been able to connect is when the security is disabled and this is not an option as we live in a flat so it is likely that neighbours will try to piggyback. Does anyone have any suggestions? I dont want to mess around with settings too much when I dont know what the problem is as this obviously affects the other laptops' connections. Help!
Try prefacing the password with a $.

Also, please note that WEP is essentially dead, you may as well use no encryption at all. It can be hacked in less than a minute with readily available tools. Switch to WPA and you won't have to worry about the password issues that happen with WEP.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
QUOTE Thanks
titina

 
titina's Avatar
 
Member Since: Apr 06, 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 32
titina is on a distinguished road
Mac Specs: black macbook OSX v10.5.8, 2.2 Intel Core 2 Duo, 1GB RAM

titina is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by cwa107 View Post

Q: What with all of this 'b' 'g' and 'n' stuff? What's the difference and why should I care?

thanks for the answer.... but i still don't know if it's security related? sorry, this is probably a stupid question... but i don't know much about all these protocols and related terminology....
is the 802.11x a better security protocol to use that WAP2?
i've just been looking at our settings here... the router seems to support it, the 2 macbooks we have do... so is it best to set to that?

or is it something that works together with the WAP2?...
:feeling dumb:

iScream
QUOTE Thanks
cwa107

 
cwa107's Avatar
 
Member Since: Dec 20, 2006
Location: Middletown, Pennsylvania
Posts: 26,500
cwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond repute
Mac Specs: 15" MBP, Core i7/2GHz, 8GB RAM, 480GB Crucial M500 SSD

cwa107 is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by titina View Post
thanks for the answer.... but i still don't know if it's security related? sorry, this is probably a stupid question... but i don't know much about all these protocols and related terminology....
is the 802.11x a better security protocol to use that WAP2?
i've just been looking at our settings here... the router seems to support it, the 2 macbooks we have do... so is it best to set to that?

or is it something that works together with the WAP2?...
:feeling dumb:
802.11b/g/n are different flavors of Wi-Fi (not security encryption protocols like WPA/WPA2/WEP, which are common amongst those flavors). It's best to set your security to WPA2 if your router supports it, if not, set it to WPA. If WPA is not available, check to see if your manufacturer has a firmware update, and if it's up to date and WPA is still not available, it's time to consider purchasing a newer model router.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
QUOTE Thanks
titina

 
titina's Avatar
 
Member Since: Apr 06, 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 32
titina is on a distinguished road
Mac Specs: black macbook OSX v10.5.8, 2.2 Intel Core 2 Duo, 1GB RAM

titina is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by cwa107 View Post
802.11b/g/n are different flavors of Wi-Fi (not security encryption protocols like WPA/WPA2/WEP, which are common amongst those flavors). It's best to set your security to WPA2 if your router supports it, if not, set it to WPA. If WPA is not available, check to see if your manufacturer has a firmware update, and if it's up to date and WPA is still not available, it's time to consider purchasing a newer model router.
many thanks for clarifying this for me!
yeah, router supports WPA2 so i will be changing over to it from WPA...
side note: i am having some issues with my airport connecting to the router the last 3 days which is was has prompted me to look into stuff more than when i set it up to begin with :rolleyes: ... all the excessive scanning stuff found on other threads... but it was working last night which may indicate that it's possibly interfearence particularly as the other macbook in the house running tiger has also had problems connecting... grrr, i just want it to work! anyway, what prompted the question... the 802.1x thing appears with the option for setting the security protocol in the router set up ie choose between WPE, WPA. WPA2 (with an extra box to check for enabling WPA2 pre-authentication) and 802.1x ... still don't get it, but hey... WPA2 it is (or will be)

iScream
QUOTE Thanks
cwa107

 
cwa107's Avatar
 
Member Since: Dec 20, 2006
Location: Middletown, Pennsylvania
Posts: 26,500
cwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond repute
Mac Specs: 15" MBP, Core i7/2GHz, 8GB RAM, 480GB Crucial M500 SSD

cwa107 is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by titina View Post
many thanks for clarifying this for me!
yeah, router supports WPA2 so i will be changing over to it from WPA...
side note: i am having some issues with my airport connecting to the router the last 3 days which is was has prompted me to look into stuff more than when i set it up to begin with :rolleyes: ... all the excessive scanning stuff found on other threads... but it was working last night which may indicate that it's possibly interfearence particularly as the other macbook in the house running tiger has also had problems connecting...
Absolutely, it is very likely interference. Install any new electronics since the problem started? If not, it's probably one of your neighbors. Make sure you do a scan with AirPort Radar to see what channels are currently in use, then change your router to use a different channel from those of your neighbors.

Quote:
grrr, i just want it to work! anyway, what prompted the question... the 802.1x thing appears with the option for setting the security protocol in the router set up ie choose between WPE, WPA. WPA2 (with an extra box to check for enabling WPA2 pre-authentication) and 802.1x ... still don't get it, but hey... WPA2 it is (or will be)
I believe the 802.1x refers to some type of certificate-based security protocol, note that the standard is 802.1x and not 802.11x, which would denote two completely different (but related) standards.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
QUOTE Thanks
titina

 
titina's Avatar
 
Member Since: Apr 06, 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 32
titina is on a distinguished road
Mac Specs: black macbook OSX v10.5.8, 2.2 Intel Core 2 Duo, 1GB RAM

titina is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by cwa107 View Post
Absolutely, it is very likely interference. Install any new electronics since the problem started? If not, it's probably one of your neighbors. Make sure you do a scan with AirPort Radar to see what channels are currently in use, then change your router to use a different channel from those of your neighbors.
it was... must've been. changed the channel and it all works as smoothly as a baby's bum!


Quote:
Originally Posted by cwa107 View Post
I believe the 802.1x refers to some type of certificate-based security protocol, note that the standard is 802.1x and not 802.11x, which would denote two completely different (but related) standards.
oh yeeeeaaahh... i must be blind! duh!
many thanks for all your replies!

iScream
QUOTE Thanks

Post Reply New Thread Subscribe


« FTP to another Mac not in network | operating 2 networks »
Thread Tools

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Wireless Networking FAQ cwa107 Internet, Networking, and Wireless 58 03-10-2009 09:10 PM
Wireless networking Bluewolf Internet, Networking, and Wireless 8 02-24-2009 03:12 PM
Wireless Networking FAQ cwa107 Internet, Networking, and Wireless 40 04-08-2008 09:25 PM
Wireless Networking familyguy Apple Notebooks 3 07-21-2006 04:36 PM
Wireless networking G3 iBook rman OS X - Operating System 1 11-02-2004 12:22 PM

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 02:42 AM.

Powered by vBulletin
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
X

Welcome to Mac-Forums.com

Create your username to jump into the discussion!

New members like you have made this community the ultimate source for your Mac since 2003!


(4 digit year)

Already a member?