Now is the perfect time to set up a guest Wi-Fi network — Here's 3 reasons why

A man looking at his computer in disbelief due to internet issues
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If you have friends visiting for a long weekend or your in-laws are coming to stay with you, they’ll likely want to get online to check their email or browse the web right after unpacking their bags. While you could just give them the password to your home network, setting up a guest network actually makes a lot more sense.

Many of the best Wi-Fi routers and even the best mesh routers allow you to quickly set up a guest network. Once this is done, your visitors will be able to access the internet but with some restrictions placed on what they can do while connected to your network.

Even if you’ve never set up a guest network before, chances are that you’ve joined one without even knowing it. For instance, when you connect to public Wi-Fi at a hotel or coffee shop, you are actually connecting to a guest network. Although you can do most of the things you normally do online, you’re not able to access other devices on the network like computers or printers.

With the holidays just around the corner, there’s never been a better time to set up a guest network at home so you’re ready for any potential visitors. If you’re still on the fence though, here are some of the best reasons to create a guest network and why doing so can also keep your other connected devices more secure. 

A simple password you won’t mind sharing

Just like with your online accounts, your home Wi-Fi network should have a unique password that’s also strong and complex. This way hackers won’t be able to easily crack it and your devices and data can be protected from any potential attacks. If you’re having trouble creating a password for your home network, you can always use one of the best password managers to generate one for you.

A chalkboard sign where you can write your Wi-Fi password

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While your home network needs a long and complicated password to be secure, your guest network actually doesn’t. Since a guest network limits what a user can do when connected, it can have a much shorter password that’s also easy to remember. In fact, you can even write down the password to your guest network and put it up on a sign where visitors will be able to easily find it.

For additional security though, you can frequently change your guest network’s password without having to manually reconnect all of your devices since they are on your home network. Besides visitors, you can also give out the credentials to your guest network to electricians, plumbers or other people working on your home who may need access to the internet.

Let your guests access the internet, not your connected devices

One of the best things about a guest network is that it keeps the devices connected to your home network isolated. Any visitor who connects to your guest network won’t be able to access or mess with any of the devices on your home network.

Smart Home products

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Unlike your computer or smartphone, many of the best smart home devices are easier to hack since they don’t receive security updates as often. Even though you likely won’t be inviting hackers to stay at your house, a guest could accidentally download a computer virus or malware capable of quickly spreading across your network and infecting other devices. Most adults know how to recognize the signs that a download seems risky but the same can’t be said for kids looking for hacks and cheats for their favorite video game.

At the same time, you might also have sensitive work data stored on the devices connected to your home network that you wouldn’t want to fall into the wrong hands. Whatever the case, it’s always best to keep your home network and the devices connected to it separate from guests looking to get online when visiting your home.

Wi-Fi for your guests with added peace of mind

Woman's hands type on MacBook with Christmas tree and holiday decorations all around.

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Any number of things can go wrong over the holidays but by setting up a guest network specifically for visitors, you can ensure that your other network-connected devices will be safe. You also won’t have to deal with malware or other computer viruses once they return home. 

If you do want to periodically change the password to your guest network, you can have some fun with it by creating new passwords for holidays and birthdays like “Feliz_Navidad” or “Happy-Birthday-Mom.” This way it will be easy for your guests to get online and they might even have a laugh when connecting to your guest network.

Even if you haven’t broken free from your ISP and purchased your own networking equipment just yet, in most cases, you can still create a guest network using the hardware from your internet provider. 

By having all of your visitors connected to your guest network instead of your home network, you can gain some extra peace of mind this holiday season. However, you will want to test your guest network out first to make sure it works before any visitors arrive. This way you can spend quality time with your guests instead of having to troubleshoot network problems.

Looking for more ways to improve your home Wi-Fi? Check out our guide on how to make Wi-Fi faster, how to set up a Wi-Fi extender and how to turn an old router into a Wi-Fi extender.

Anthony Spadafora
Senior Editor Security and Networking

Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.