Older readers may remember the days when it was quite common for WiFi networks to have no password protection at all; anyone who arrived could simply log on to the network. This was in the days when WiFi networks were pretty rare, smartphones didn't have WiFi, tablets weren't invented yet.
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Having to enter a password every time was a hassle, and no one was trying to steal WiFi, there was no real need to secure your network. Therefore …
Well, today everything has changed! Today practically everyone has a smartphone in their pocket and practically everyone to use Internet services uses a WiFi network to share that service with all the devices in their home or workplace.
The vast majority of WiFi networks are password protected. However, for convenience, manufacturers have created several ways to allow a guest user to log into the network without knowing a password. In this article, I will detail many of these methods and walk you through connecting to WiFi without a password.
Note, however, that it is a violation of manners (and most likely the law) to gain access to someone's WiFi network without their permission. Make sure you have network owner permission before using any of these methods.
WPS stands for WiFi Protected Setup. WPS is a security standard that works on networks that use the WPA or WPA2 security protocols. WPS means that if a WiFi router is in a place physically accessible to guests, the guest can create a network connection to the router by pressing a button on the router, rather than entering a password.
WPS is a very common method for connecting guest users in a home or small office environment. Since people outside the building or rooms have no physical access to the router, they have no way to steal WiFi service.
Only the people you have invited will be able to access your WiFi network. It's much easier to tap a button on the router's control panel than to enter a random 16-digit security code on a smartphone's tiny keyboard.
Using WPS is very simple. Generally all you need to do is make sure you have the right settings on your smartphone or other guest device and make sure you can physically access the router. I will provide instructions for using a smartphone; the exact steps may vary slightly depending on your operating system and version.
- Launch the "Settings" app from the main screen.
- Go to the Network and Internet Settings section.
- Tap "WiFi".
- Tap the WiFi settings tab or menu.
- Tap the "Advanced" button.
- Tap the “Connect via WPS Button” option.
- A dialog will open telling you to press the WPS button on the router. You have about 30 seconds to do this before the WPS handshake protocol shuts down and you will need to repeat this step. Press the WPS button; it is usually clearly labeled "WPS".
- Your phone will automatically connect to the WiFi network and you shouldn't repeat these steps unless you tell the device to forget this WiFi connection.
For some routers, there is a WPS PIN instead of a button; you'll need to tap on that option in your internet settings and then enter the PIN, which is usually found on a sticker on the router.
WPS is a very practical method to connect to a WiFi network without a password, it is reliable and works on almost any Android or Windows device. Sadly Apple basically refuses to support the WPS standard, making life more difficult for their users (as usual).
ROUTER GUEST MODE
Another option for sharing WiFi connectivity with guests without the hassle of passwords is for you, as a network administrator, to set up a guest network on your router.
Almost all modern routers support the guest network feature, and you can leave the password blank on the guest network (or have a very simple password that can be easily entered and shared).
The downside of a guest network with no password or an easily guessed trivial password is that you are not protected by a neighbor who wants to connect to your modem. Probably good for your mountain top home. Guest networks will work with any type of device.
Follow these steps to set up a guest network on the router:
- Open your computer's browser and paste your router's IP address into the address bar. Commonly, the address will be 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1. The IP address is almost always printed somewhere on the router.
- Use your administrator credentials to log into the router.
- Once logged in, you will need to locate the "Guest Network" option. You can find it in the “Wireless Settings” section.
- Find and enable "Guest Network".
- Then, name your guest network (enter its SSID - we recommend using the normal network name and adding “- Guest”) and set the password. You can opt for something as simple as "our home" or "guest password". You can also leave it blank.
- Click the "Save" button to confirm the settings and create the network.
Another cool feature of a guest network is that you can (via your router's control panel software) limit the bandwidth for the guest network, so that your roommates or nearby children can't download 50 gigabytes from your network.
If you want to access someone's WiFi network or allow them to use yours without using a password, you can always use QR codes. Keep in mind that the QR code method requires some technical acumen.
Honestly, it would be easier to write the password down and hand it to your guest, but for some people this is a better solution. Here are the basic steps to share someone's Wi-Fi using QR code scanning.
- Launch the browser on your friend's computer and go to the Stuff QR Code Generator.
- You will see the data type menu on the left side of the screen. Click the radio button next to the “WiFi Access” option.
- Next, ask the network owner to enter the network name (SSID) and password. They should also select the network type from the drop-down menu.
- When the site generates a QR code, print it on a blank sheet of paper.
- Launch any QR code scanning app on your phone. If you don't have this type of app, download and install one from Google Play; this is very popular, well reviewed and free. If you have an iPhone, the built-in camera app will do the job.
- Scan the code with your phone. This should automatically connect you to the Wi-Fi network.
Alternatively, you can download a third-party app and convert the QR code to an NFC tag. Here's how it's done with the WiFiKeyShare app.
- Download the app from Google Play to your friend's phone.
- Once the download is complete, launch the app.
- Allow your friend to enter their network parameters to generate the QR code.
- When the code appears, tap the NFC card to see its NFC equivalent.
- Send the NFC tag to your phone. You should be able to connect to the WiFi network without any problems, as all versions of Android from Lollipop 5.0 and above support NFC tags.
There are ways to share the WiFi network even if you are reluctant to share the password. Using these methods can help you be a nice person without endangering the security of your home network.
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