Guest networking is a very useful router feature that too many people don’t take advantage of. Here’s why you should activate your guest network today.
What is a guest network?
While the name may do some heavy lifting as to what exactly a guest network is, it never hurts to clarify, and what exactly a “guest network” entails can vary significantly from router to router.
A guest network, in its simplest form, is a way separate from your main SSID for guests in your home to connect to your network. Some routers simply don’t support guest mode because they don’t have hardware or firmware support for it. But most routers these days, even budget models, have some kind of guest mode.
The way that guest mode works varies from the most basic option where guests get a different SSID name and address to the most advanced where you get that, but you can also apply parental controls, scheduling and other options. network configuration.
If you’re curious about what your router can do, explore the administrative control panel or look in the help files for your particular model. And if you find that it’s a bit lacking in the guest networking department, it might be time to upgrade, especially if your router is particularly out of date.
This is why you should enable guest networking on your router
There are a wide variety of reasons to take advantage of your router’s guest networking capability. Below you’ll find what we think are the most compelling reasons to activate your guest network and get more from your router.
When you turn on your guest network, be sure to follow these best practices to ensure it’s secure.
You can easily change your guest network password
People hate changing their Wi-Fi passwords. It may not have been a big deal to change your password when we only had a few devices in our homes, but now changing your password means updating a lot of things. And if you’re the one managing the technology in your home, that means everyone’s knocking on your door to tell you that your tablet can no longer connect to the Wi-Fi network.
The great thing about a guest network is that you can give your guests a password and then change it as often as you like while leaving the password for your primary SSID the same. Guests can get a new password when they visit and you can leave your main network alone.
Guest networks isolate guests from your network
For the most part, I’m sure not many of us genuinely care that guests in our homes are elite hackers trying to infiltrate our home network. After all, if I’m willing to take you out to dinner or a beer, I probably won’t look at you with suspicion.
But from a security standpoint, best practice is to never give anyone (or your devices) access to things they don’t need to access. And there’s no reason a guest in your home should have full access to your home network just to scroll through Instagram on your patio or use Wi-Fi calling on their phone.
You might think, “What are they talking about, Steve doesn’t pose a threat to my home network?” And of course, Steve probably not. But Steve’s kids, playing on his laptop and infecting it with loads of malware while trying to get free Robux, could do so when that laptop is now connected “naked” to their home network.
And ultimately, there’s usually no reason for your guests to be on the same network as your file server, security cameras, smart home gear, or have access to your stuff.
Guest networks can protect you from liability
If your router supports fine-tuning the guest network experience to apply parental controls and restrictions, it can be a great way to protect yourself from liability.
What kind of responsibility? The kind of liability that comes from people in your network running apps or services that send you legal notices or attract unwanted attention. By using your router settings to disable access to peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing services and such, you can ensure that you don’t end up getting a letter from your ISP asking why you (but actually your visiting nephew) . ) were sharing copies of the latest Marvel movie.
And again, you might not think that any of your guests would just launch a BitTorrent or similar client on your network without asking, but in some cases, people don’t even know. Millions of people have used the Popcorn Time app, for example, with no idea that they’re actually using a media player with a built-in BitTorrent client.
You can isolate Smart Gear from your main network
Smart home equipment, often referred to as IoT (Internet of Things), is in many ways a bit complicated from both a security point of view and a network point of view.
There are so many off-brand, white-box smart home products on the market, like smart plugs and Wi-Fi light switches, that it’s almost a guarantee at some point that the products will be a problem. At best, they will stop receiving security updates and support, or at worst, they will be compromised.
All the more reason to put those things on a separate guest network where they can access the Internet and do their smart job but can’t talk to, say, your home PC or file server.
However, this is not without additional headaches in some cases. Sometimes putting a piece of smart home equipment on an isolated local network really affects the functionality of the control app or even the device itself, and will need to be migrated back to your main network.
You can enable and disable your guest network at will
Shutting down your entire Wi-Fi network is usually not a start. We have too many devices, and cutting off Internet access for everyone is a drastic way to deal with disabling access to a group of devices or users.
But with a guest network, you can easily do this without affecting your primary devices or users. Want to shut down internet access on your nephews’ tablets at the end of the night? Do you only want some of your smart devices to have access to the Internet from time to time to get updates?
While you can accomplish those things with more complex network tricks and tools, grouping them together in a guest network makes for easy general toggle access.
So whether you want to keep smart home products with dubious pedigree insulated or offer a secure way for your guests to surf the Internet, implementing a guest network to do so is a great idea.