What Is a Guest Network And How to Set It Up

Having WiFi and not sharing it with your friends would be almost as insulting as not offering them food or beverages. The internet has become a necessity in our daily interactions, even when we are spending time in person.

Even though you might trust your guests and would want them to surf the internet using your local connection, you might not want to give them access to your own network. A guest network is a great solution for when you want to provide people with internet access and keep your files safe.

WiFi Guest Network – The Fundamentals

If you have ever visited a hotel or used public WiFi, then you have surely seen the (optional) login screen which requires you to enter some credentials to be able to use the network. This is an additional safety feature, mostly found on some hotel or public WiFi access points.

This tells you that you are accessing a guest network, and some access points are even appropriately named, such as Hotel_Guest. Guest networks are separate access points which provide internet access separate from the devices on other access points.

Why a Guest Network?

This is often done for security reasons. Most home and business networks have some sort of file sharing system, enabled on certain networks. Access to these files is restricted and allowing guests or other users to connect to their network would be a security risk.

Even in your home, you might have smart devices linked together, not to mention computers, laptops and smartphones, with files you might not want people accessing. Setting up a guest network is an easy process, especially if your router has a dedicated button for it.

How to Create a Guest WiFi Network

A guest WiFi network is another access point, separate from the one your other wireless and wired devices are connected to. It can have limited access, depending on the router and its settings.

Most routers allow you to log in through a browser, often having to use ethernet rather than wifi. The typical address is, though that should be checked with the manufacturer or through a simple online search.

One should then navigate to the Wireless Network settings and either create a new access point or use the Guest Network settings, if they are available.

basic wifi network settings

For example, this Huawei router doesn’t have a specific guest network button, as many of its rivals do. In this case, one would have to restrict internet access with an Access Control List or ACL.

Depending on the router and manufacturer, the commands will vary, so check with the manufacturer if your router doesn’t have a dedicated way of setting up guest mode.

You might want to give it another name, one different from your main access point, so that the guests can easily find it. Setting up a WiFi password with QR code sharing is beneficial and simplifies the process of logging in.

Printing the QR code and placing it where people can quickly scan it is faster than making them remember and type out often a complicated password.

Another layer of security can be added to your network by not broadcasting the SSID of your private access point, to which your devices are connected. That way, people would only be able to access it if they knew the name, address and password.

Do You Need a Guest WiFi Network?

If there is a strong need for privacy, one might want to keep their network secure, even from trusted people, mostly because their devices might have a form of malware that could infect other devices on the network.

If, however, there is no data stored locally and the devices are used for home theaters or media playback, another, guest network, might not be necessary. Some users keep all their work in the office and use the cloud to store all their data, leaving nothing for local storage.

People who run their businesses at home or have an office that is frequently visited by guests should always have a network separate from the one all the business-related machines are connected to.

Having a server or NAS infected through negligence would be a very expensive problem, hence why additional security through access point separation is recommended.

Do Routers Matter?

In the example above, we have seen that not all routers come with a one-click solution to the guest WiFi network problem. Modern routers, even affordable ones, have firmware with a graphical user interface (GUI) that makes everything easy for the user.

Even without an easy setup, restricting users through MAC address filtering, also known as the above mentioned ACL, is relatively easy. Most router manufacturers have detailed guides on how to set your router up the way you need it to be, like this one, for example.

It is also recommended to regularly update your router’s firmware, if it is possible. These updates mostly contain security patches, and sometimes, new features, or rather, existing ones, packaged in more consumer-friendly ways.

A Guest Network Is Helpful But Not Always Necessary

The answer to the question of how to set up a guest WiFi network is relatively simple, depending on the router. Some have an easy-to-use interface and allow one or two-click setups, making your job that much easier.

Some routers require you to manually make another access point and then restrict access to all the devices connected to that AP. There are other ways of protecting devices on your network, such as having encryption, disabling file sharing or even network visibility.

Businesses and people who have sensitive information on their private network might want a guest network to keep possibly infected devices from doing harm.

Most people do not need a guest network, on the other hand, and should simply change their router’s factory login credentials and make sure that their AP is secured with a decently complicated code which can be shared via QR scanning, if necessary.

About The Author

Milan Zagorac

Milan has always been interested in writing and technology, but managed to pick up a love for music, literature and sports along the way. Essentially a jack of all trades, his interest in all things tech as well as love for the written word, keeps him well occupied.

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