How Do I Set up My Wi-Fi Extender to a New Router?

In this week’s Lifehacker tech tips column, we return to our favorite topic: wireless networking. This time, the reader is having trouble getting an important piece of old equipment to work with an important piece of new equipment. If you’ve ever upgraded your router, or plan to do so, this situation should be all too familiar to you.

Lifehacker reader Ashley writes:

“I came across one of your articles on safari and could have some advice. So my aunt and I live on the same lot, within 200 feet of each other. She had Wi-Fi for a year now, and my repeater always received the signal with no problem. Up until a week ago when she got a new router. So my question is, how do I reconnect the repeater? I would like to do it myself, if possible, with instructions. Thanks in advance!”

I’m going to start with the good news: this problem should be easy to fix without any contingencies. For starters, I’m going to assume that your new Wi-Fi router is pretty decent and you have no problem getting a signal wherever you install your wireless repeater.

The fastest way for your repeater to reconnect to your Wi-Fi router is to ask your aunt to use the same SSID and password on her new router that she used on her old router. The expander knows nothing better; it should connect to the wireless network without any problems.

However, there is one small caveat that can spoil this process. If you’ve previously configured your repeater to connect to your router’s 2.4GHz network and your aunt – for whatever reason – only uses 5GHz on her router, that connection won’t work. (A more likely scenario is where your aunt will only be using 2.4GHz on her router, and you’ve previously configured your repeater to connect to the router’s non-existent 5GHz network.)

You can always raise the settings of your wireless repeater to make any changes necessary to get the connection back online – connect to a new SSID if your aunt has renamed your Wi-Fi network, or configure the wireless range your repeater uses to connect to your router. … I recommend searching the internet for your repeater model number and looking at the manufacturer’s instructions, as everything you enter into your web browser to access its settings may be different.

(As an aside, I recommend not using your repeater’s “dual connect” option, if any, or anything similar. For best performance, only connect the repeater to your router’s 2.4GHz or 5GHz network. When you create a second network Wi-Fi that is coming out of your extender, isolate it from the opposite band, if applicable. So if you connect to your router on 5 GHz, your devices should only connect to the repeater on 2.4 GHz, for example.)

If you’re a little confused by your repeater’s basic settings screen, or just don’t want to mess with it, try the nuclear approach: factory reset your repeater. This can usually be done by holding the reset button, if present, for 5-10 seconds until the lights on the repeater start flashing differently. However, to make sure you are doing this process correctly, check your device manual.

Once you’ve done that, you can follow the manufacturer’s instructions for setting up your repeater for the first time, which should make it easier to connect to your aunt’s new router – after all, your repeater worked right the first time around.

If you’re still having connectivity issues, try moving the repeater a little closer to your aunt’s router (or ask her to move your router a little closer to the repeater) and see if that helps. And make sure you update your repeater and router to the latest firmware. You should be able to check what firmware your router and repeater is using from the web settings screen of each device. You can then visit the device manufacturer’s support site to see if the latest firmware it offers is suitable for your device. If not, update it!

And if that still doesn’t fix the problem, there are many other reasons why you might be having trouble getting connected, and we’ve covered them in detail :

Let me know if this advice helps. If not, I’ll be happy to continue troubleshooting!


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