One option is to use the disk that came with the router. Most vendors ship a CD in the packaging that contains a program that will locate the router and set things up automatically for you. I recommend you use it if you do not understand much about networking as it will really simplify everything and give you exact instructions on what to do for your make and model of router.
If this is not an option you will likely need to log in to your router via your browser. There will be an instruction booklet showing you how to plug your computer and modem into the router. The modem’s network cable will plug into the socket labeled “WAN.” Your computer will plug into one of the numbered sockets. I like to physically connect the computer and router for this part because it’s easier to use wires for this setup than attempt to connect via wireless.
Once everything is plugged in, look in your routers manual for the default settings. There will be a default user name and password listed, as well as a default IP address. The address is usually 192.168.1.1. You will enter this into your Web browser with the http:// in front, and you should be prompted for a user name and password. Enter these and it will take you to the administration screen.
The first thing you will want to do is set a new router password. This is the password that lets you into the router administration panel. It is not related to wireless or network settings. There should be a link to set a password either in the menu, or perhaps as part of the basic settings page. As every brand of router has slightly different menus, you may have to hunt a little bit for these settings. When in doubt, read the instruction manual or refer to the documentation link in the administration page.
In the basic settings menu you’ll find many different options. For most of these settings, you will want to use the default settings. The exception is if you use DSL and have to enter a login and password to enable your Internet connection. You will want to enter that information.
I would also recommend that you leave any of the IP address settings as default. There are certain IP address subnets that are blocked off for private network use. These include the 192.168.x.x addresses, as well as 10.x.x.x addresses. You will likely see the 192.168.1.1 listed here as a gateway address. You will probably also see a subnet mask field. If your gateway IP is 192.168.1.1, your subnet mask should be defaulted to 255.255.255.0. A subnet mask is basically used to determine which network a device belongs to.
In addition, you will also want to make sure that the router is acting as a DHCP server. What this means is that it will be assigning IP addresses automatically to any device that you attempt to connect to the network. Usually there will be fields to enter the starting address for the DHCP. if your gateway is 192.168.1.1, your starting address will likely be 192.168.1.2.