Ask the Geek: Changing a Wi-Fi password

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Dear Geek,

I have Comcast for Internet service at my house, but would like to change the wireless network password. It’s so long and hard to remember I had to write it down, and it is a pain in the neck when I have to give someone the password when they want to connect to my Wi-Fi.

Thank you, #nomore16digitpasswords

Dear #nomore16digitpasswords,

This past weekend, I encountered what you wrote about. I went to a friend’s house to add a printer to their wireless network and when I saw the password, I asked if they wanted it changed. To be honest, I didn’t feel like typing in “BD8JT73YZLX2QP74” into the tiny keypad on the printer’s LCD screen. My buddy gave me a big smile and similar to you, told me how he’s had to read off all those characters to anyone new connecting to the wifi.

If you know your Comcast account login, go to xfinity.com/wifipassword and you can change it there. Since many people do not know their login information, I am focusing on how to connect to your modem directly and change it there.

Comcast modems are set up to hand out IP (Internet Protocol) addresses to any device connecting to its network. An IP address is similar to the street address on a house. Unique addresses are assigned to each device, just as every house on a street has its own unique number. If you have 2 houses that are both 70 Main Street, confusion ensues. Mail delivery, utilities servicing the property, would be mixed up, etc. Similarly, if two devices on a network have the same IP address, the network and devices on it are going to get confused.

Comcast modems typically assign addresses like “10.0.0.15.” The easiest way to test if you can connect to your modem is to open a web browser and in the address field, instead of typing an address such as (insert shameless plug here…) “www.mvtimes.com,” type “10.0.0.1” without the quotes. Try the username “admin,” and password “password.” That should bring you to the configuration screen. Click on Gateway — Configuration — Wi-Fi. Select your Wi-Fi, click Edit, and change the password to something difficult for someone to hack, but easy for you to remember. As usual, I recommend a combination of capital letters, lowercase, numbers, and ideally a symbol as well. Maybe Pats@5rings — that one has a nice “ring” to it …

If you are uncomfortable following the above steps, or the login doesn’t work, call your regular computer person, who should easily be able to access the modem, change the password, and/or install a separate device to provide Wi-Fi in your home or business. Hope this helps keep you from having to read off “BD8JT73YZLX2QP74” next time someone comes over to your house with a laptop!

The Geek

Adam Darack is the IT administrator for the town of Edgartown. He writes regularly about the technological issues facing Island business owners. Got a question? Send it to onisland@mvtimes.com with the subject line “Dear Geek.”