Wifi Router Passwords – Revisited

Granting access to your wifi connection still causes problems for many people.

Sledgehammer and Wifi RouterTo allow a visitor to connect their mobile device (iPad, other tablet, smartphone, netbook etc) to your wifi connection, you will need to give them 2 pieces of information about your wifi setup:

  • The name of the wireless network (also known as the SSID)
  • The passkey (password) to connect to that network

These pieces of information are held in your router. They may have been set by your broadband supplier (if they supplied the router), or they may have been set by you, or a computer support consultant such as myself, who created them at the time of setting up the router.

I’ve suggested before that it’s a good idea to write the information down on a piece of paper and stick it to the bottom of the router. This sounds really trivial and you may be wondering why I’m banging on about it again. Well, there are several reasons:

  • In my capacity as a computer consultant I often get asked for this information by my clients. I never accept responsibility for the usernames and passwords of my clients, but it is true that I will know some of them and it’s natural enough that they should ask me if they get stuck. The point here is that it doesn’t seem to matter how often I “suggest” that they record such information in a place where they can find it, I still get regular requests to help them out. I’ve started to put stickers on clients’ routers myself when the subject comes up, but it would make much more sense if everyone could just take 5 minutes to do it.
  • Some people get confused about the information that is sometimes already written on a sticker on the router. For the present purposes, you don’t need to worry about references to mac codes or serial numbers. Similarly, ignore the “administrator username and password” that may be written on the router. That information is for accessing the settings of the router via a web browser. What you are looking for is almost always identified as the “SSID” (service set identifier) and the “passkey” (or “password”).
  • If you take your mobile device away on holiday with you it may just have “forgotten” the details of your home wifi setup when you get it home again. So, you’ll need to connect it again and that entails recognising your home router’s SSID and re-entering the passkey.
  • Not so long ago a visitor to a client of mine actually reset her router to factory defaults in order to get past the fact that they didn’t know the router passkey. Not wise. She had to pay me to go and set it up again and she had no internet connection in the meantime.

QR Code for Wifi SettingsI recently came across a website that creates a QR code of your router SSID and passkey. I know this is going to sound really nerdy, but it means you can stick a QR code onto the bottom of your router and anyone with a smartphone that has a QR reader app on it can scan the code from your router and store it on their phone. I was rather hoping that it could automatically extract the information and key it straight into the Wifi settings of the phone, but maybe that was asking a bit much (although the iPhone app QR Reader does let you copy the information for pasting into the wifi settings).

And if you still think life’s too short for stuffing mushrooms (see this blog on QR Codes) and say to yourself “I might just as well write it on a piece of paper and stick it on the router” I would reply “Yes – please do!”