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What Is a Guest Network, and Should You Use One at Home?

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You have bought a brand-new router so that you don’t have to continue paying a rental fee to your internet provider. Reading through the owner’s manual, you come across a section on guest networks. You have no idea what it’s talking about. You are left wondering what a guest network is and whether you should have one at home.

First, guest networks are not as complicated as they seem. If you can figure out how to set up your router for a standard network, configuring a guest network should be a piece of cake. As for whether you should have one at home, that really depends on how frequently you have guests who want to use your wi-fi.

Guest Networks in a Nutshell

A guest network is an isolated network you set up in order to give guests access to your wi-fi without exposing your own electronic devices. Let us say you set up your standard network and call it ‘My Network’. All your devices – your phone, computer, TV etc. – connect to your router through My Network and then onto the internet.

Guess what? Your devices can communicate with one another on that same network. You can transfer files from your computer to the phone, for example. You can set up a wireless printer that both your computer and phone can talk to.

Now, let’s say you set up a second network for guests. You call it ‘Guest Network’. Visitors can connect to your wi-fi and access the internet through Guest Network. But their devices cannot communicate with your devices. Why? Because they are on Guest Network while you are on My Network.

A Way of Isolating Devices

Setting up a guest network is a way of isolating your devices. It is a way of preventing visitors from seeing files on your computer or using your printer. It even prevents visitors from inadvertently messing with your home automation system.

Should you set up a quest network at home? That depends on your situation. If you entertain visitors infrequently, and they don’t tend to use the internet while they are visiting, you really do not need a guest network. Things would be different if you regularly entertained large groups of people.

Remember that every individual who has access to your wi-fi also has access to everything on your network. So being a frequent entertainer would mean exposing your network to a lot of people. Sure, you trust them. But why take chances? Harm can still be done to a network even if it’s not intentional.

Set Up Is Fairly Easy

You read earlier that setting up a Guest network shouldn’t be a problem if you know how to configure a router for a standard network. Take note of the fact that setting up a guest network is completely separate from how you get internet access. It works the same whether you are on cable, fiber optic, or 4G rural broadband from Blazing Hog.

First, enable guest networks (if the option is not already enabled). Next, give your guest network a name and password. Be sure to use the most advanced password option you have. Usually, it is WPA2 or WPA3 on a modern router. You might be looking at WPA-PSK on an older router.

If you’re working with a dual band router, you will also have to choose which band you want your guests to access. The 2.4 GHz band is slower than the 5 GHz band, so keep that in mind. Make your choice, save the settings, and you now have a guest network ready to go.