Connecting Your Work Computer To Your Home Internet

My home network setup
My home network setup

My home network setup

Connecting your work computer to your home Internet isn’t something you think of until you open email. Luckily it isn’t a difficult task, either. It should be no different that when you did it for your own, personal computer. But in case it has been a while here’s a quick primer on how to get setup. Using either a Wi-Fi or wired connection.


The coronavirus outbreak has pushed a lot of people to work from home, many for the first time. Even more people are practicing social distancing. Don’t panic. At the end of the day you’re doing the same job. And you can still reach out to friends and family. But you’ll need to do so with a different toolset. This site is here to help you make the changes needed to make the most of the situation.


Wi-Fi vs Wired Internet

We’re all use to using Wi-Fi. So much so it is now the default for many of us. Our phones can only use Wi-Fi, and laptops outnumber desktop computers. Wi-Fi can work fine for working from home. But it is worth going over the benefits of both it and a wired connection.

Wi-Fi

  • Convenient
  • Sufficient speeds
  • Catching up with wired
  • Greater security concerns

Wi-Fi connections are usually fine for working from home. Your peers use it all the time. Including myself on my main work laptop. What it can lack in speed is made up for by the convenience. With enough signal strength you can work in any nearby space you wish. And your home office location isn’t dictated by where your Internet modem lives.

A wireless connection is slower (less data at once) than a wired. For most home Internet service plans you wouldn’t see a big difference between wireless and wired. As your connection to the outside world is usually the bottleneck. The higher latency (delay between connections) won’t impact email and web. But could be noticeable with video chat. And online video games when off the clock.

Ethernet speeds for most users haven’t gone beyond a gigabit (1 Gbps) in years. But newer and faster versions of Wi-Fi are being introduced in new phones and laptops. And are approaching 1 Gbps for a single device connection.

Security is weaker because your wireless signal (and data) are in the air. It is encrypted, but it can be intercepted more easily than a point-to-point wired connection. If your work has higher security concerns it is worth keeping in mind.

Wired

  • High speeds and lower latency
  • Easier to connect
  • Better security
  • Requires router with available ports and a long enough cable

Wired connections (using Ethernet) have a bigger advantage back in the main office than at home. As your work likely has a much faster Internet connection than your DSL or cable provider is offering. The high speeds at home are useful if transferring large files between computers in your home. But for uploading to the Internet less so. Ethernet also offers lower latency, which may be desirable if you’ll be doing a lot of video conferences. And you should stick with Ethernet if setting up a serious gaming PC.

Ethernet snaps right into its port with ease. Plug on end into your router and the other into your computer. Assuming both worked with an Ethernet connection before they’ll work here. Without any setup in the operating system.

Hardwired connections are always safer than wireless. To intercept the data someone has to physically tap the line. That said, if you also use a Wi-Fi router for other devices that still presents a security weak point. Though not as direct as your computer’s data going right into the air.

A wired connection may not be an option for you, depending on the hardware you have on hand. Your router needs to have an available Ethernet port. And you need to have an Ethernet cable. The length of that cable will determine where you can setup your computer. Unless you’re willing to move your Internet modem and router.

Where To Setup a Home Office

If you don’t have a router with available Ethernet ports. Or don’t have an Ethernet cable then go with Wi-Fi for now. You can always look at moving to a wired connection later.


Connecting Your Work Computer To Your Home Internet Using Ethernet (Wired)

Ports on an Apple AirPort router

Ports on an Apple AirPort router

All that is usually required is plugging an Ethernet cable into your computer on one end. And into your router on the other. After a few moments the computer and router will connect. And your work computer will be online.

Troubleshooting

If you run into a problem you’ll need to troubleshoot the issue. You have three options:

  • Call your Internet service provider
  • Call your work related IT support
  • Dive into troubleshooting guides yourself for Windows or Mac

Connecting Your Work Computer To Your Home Internet Using Wi-Fi

You’ll need to teach your computer how to connect to your home Wi-Fi the first time. But after that it can be set to automatically connect.

Mac

  1. Click the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar. If missing go to the Apple icon, then System Preferences, then Network. Select Wi-Fi on the left, and then click the Show Wi-Fi status in menu bar.
  2. Give the Wi-Fi menu a few moments to read and display all local Wi-Fi connections. Click on your Wi-Fi.
    • If given the option of 5 GHz vs 2.4 GHz go with 5 GHz. That is a faster standard. It does have shorter range, so if you get a weaker signal the slower but stronger 2.4 GHz may be better.
    • Make sure you’re seeing 3-4 bars. Less than that can cause stability issues.
  3. Enter the password to your Wi-Fi when prompted. Make sure the Remember this network box is checked. Then click Join.
  4. After a few moments it should connect. Showing black bars in the menu.
  5. Verify the connection by going to any website.

Windows 10

  1. Click the Wi-Fi icon in the taskbar, near the bottom-right of your display. If you don’t see the Wi-Fi icon click on the up arrow and see if it appears there. If you still don’t see it press the Windows key + A together. Click on Network near the bottom of the new window.
  2. Give the Wi-Fi menu a few moments to read and display all local Wi-Fi connections. Click on your Wi-Fi.
    • If given the option of 5 GHz vs 2.4 GHz go with 5 GHz. That is a faster standard. It does have shorter range, so if you get a weaker signal the slower but stronger 2.4 GHz may be better.
    • Make sure you’re seeing 3-4 bars. Less than that can cause stability issues.
  3. Check the Connect automatically option.
  4. Click the Connect button.
  5. Enter the password to your Wi-Fi.
  6. Click the Next button.
  7. After a few moments it should connect. Showing black bars in the menu.
  8. Verify the connection by going to any website.

Change Your Wi-Fi Router’s Default Password

Troubleshooting

If you run into a problem you’ll need to troubleshoot the issue. You have three options:

  • Call your Internet service provider
  • Call your work related IT support
  • Dive into troubleshooting guides yourself for Windows or Mac

Your Internet service provider may not be willing/able to help if the Wi-Fi router is yours and not theirs. Your work IT will likely talk you through some options. But they will not be able to remote connect and help directly until the computer is online.