Networking

How to set up Google Wifi

Google Wifi setup is a breeze. Here's what you need to know.

Josh Miller
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Google Wifi ($118.98 at Amazon.com) is impressive and not all that expensive. CNET's Dong Ngo calls it "the best Wi-Fi system on the market." Part of the reason it has earned that title is due to the ease of setup.

Before you begin, you need to install the Google Wifi app on an Android or iOS device. The app is the only way to access the device's settings -- it's not even possible on a computer. (And, of course, you'll need a Google account to sign into the app. If you're one of the few people who have somehow gotten away without creating a Google account, sign up for one here.)

Where to put your Google Wifi units

The most important factor in determining how well your Wi-Fi performs is placement.

Google Wifi isn't like more traditional Wi-Fi setups, where additional units extend the network (in turn, reducing bandwidth). Instead, Google uses mesh network technology to blanket your home in a single network without affecting performance. It's the same way Eero and Orbi work.

Here are some tips for placement:

  • Don't hide them! Like any router, closed cabinets and cramped quarters will reduce the router's range, there by reducing coverage and speed.
  • Place the units somewhere high, which will help them avoid interference.
  • Don't place them too far apart. Google suggests placing Wi-Fi points no more than two rooms from one another. Depending on the size of your house, that could mean buying more than three.

Create your network

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Now it's time to plug in your Google Wifi units. Start by connecting one -- it doesn't matter which -- should be directly into your modem.

Open the Google Wifi app, and begin the setup process. Your phone will look for nearby devices, and when prompted you'll need to scan the QR code on the bottom of the Wi-Fi point. Doing so creates a secure link between your phone and the device.

You'll need to enter a network name and password, and then let Google do some magic in the background to complete initial setup. You can use the same network name and password as your last system to eliminate the need to go around the house, re-entering network credentials on all of your devices. As always, choose a secure password and unique network name -- not the defaults.

When everything is working as expected, the app will ask you how many more Wi-Fi devices you need to install.

Plug in, scan, repeat

Remove the second access point from the box, and plug it in. At one point you may see a prompt asking you to select the right device, which is really just a bunch of random letters and numbers. Turn the Wi-Fi point over, and match the letters and numbers after "setup" with what's on the phone's screen.

The app will then test the network connection, and let you know if the unit is in the right spot or would benefit from being moved.

Repeat this process for each unit you purchased.

Test your network

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You could stop after installing all of the access points you purchased, but take an extra minute to run what Google calls a "mesh test." This test will measure how strong of a connection there is between all of your Wi-Fi points, as well as provide tips for improving your network.

Open the Google Wifi app, tap on the Settings button > Network check > Test mesh.

The test will take about 30 seconds to run, after which you will see the results.

If Google has suggestions to improve the connection, a Fix It button will be available in the bottom-left corner. Tap on it and follow the instructions.