Is it really possible to get free Wi-Fi at home? Well really that depends on a variety of factors including the location of your home, the networks around your home and of course how much effort you are willing to put in into getting free Wi-Fi.
To put it simply, getting free Wi-Fi will involve you connecting to a nearby public wifi network, a friendly neighbor's wifi network, or alternatively buying a long range antenna to help you to get a wireless signal from a wireless network a bit further away.
A free Wi-Fi network will allow you to use the internet for free, although of course you will be at the mercy of the network owner’s discretion when it comes to what you browse and the speed of the network.
This means that you may have a slow connection, not be able to access certain sites or even put your data at risk. What you will most likely be able to do though is all of your everyday web browsing.
You may also have some start up cost to think about including a long range antenna, Wi-Fi extender or even a cup of coffee.
While free Wi-Fi sounds like a great idea on paper, most people will find they have a much more reliable and secure Wi-Fi connection by simply buying a router and creating their own LAN to use the wifi. You can then either pay for fixed line broadband, or even tether your phone and use your phone data.
Please read on to find out how to get access to free Wi-Fi at home.
How To Get Free Wi-Fi Access At Home
Use A Friend’s Wi-Fi
This is the simplest option and also, assuming you trust your friend, and that your friend is a close neighbor, the safest. This is an especially likely solution for those in neighboring apartment blocks or terraced houses where two houses are very close to each other.
If your friend allows you to use their Wi-Fi for free you will get all the benefits of having your own connection but without any of the costs. If your connection isn’t great, you could always look into buying a Wi-Fi range extender or perhaps even daisy chain two routers together to extend the signal range.
To connect to a friend’s Wi-Fi you simply need to follow these steps:
Connect To Public Wi-Fi
If you live near to a place that offers public Wi-Fi, it can be possible to connect to this network for free in your house. Again this is most likely if you live in a city or other area that is close by to a lot of cafes, restaurants or bars.
Like when using a friend’s Wi-Fi you will be able to connect for free, although it is worth noting that when on a public Wi-Fi network you will be stuck with whatever network restrictions are in place. This can include blocked sites and restricted data speeds.
Also due to the potential large number of people using the network you may not get the best transfer speeds.
Another important thing to remember is that if the network is unprotected it is possible that hackers or other undesirables may also be using the network and trying to steal your data. Unless you use a VPN.
If someone is watching what you do on a network they will be able to see everything from what you browse, to your passwords and bank details.
Essentially, you should be very careful whenever you use a public Wi-Fi connection.
The steps when connecting to public network are almost the same as the when connecting to a friend’s network.
1. Find a public network you can access from your home.
2. Find out the password (if any) needed to connect to the wireless network.
3. Connect to the wireless network.
It should be noted that many public wireless networks will only give you the network password if you buy something from their premises. So....the network may not be quite so free after all!
Connect From Far Away - Use A Powerful Long Range Antenna
While it is easiest to get free wifi if you live in a built up area where you can access other connections, it is possible to use a powerful long range antenna to improve the range of your network devices.
These antennas can give you a range of up to 8 miles which can certainly give you a good chance of finding a nearby hotspot. Having said that, that is with perfect conditions and without interference which would be unlikely in most situations.
Also consider that the hotspot you are attempting to connect to, will likely be omni-directional (as most home Wireless Access Points). Omni-directional antennas have a limited span for wifi, so a long range antenna can only do so much...
Even if you don’t get 8 miles however, a long range antenna should significantly improve your chances of connecting to a network further away. If you want to connect via these long distances, use a directional antenna at both ends - this is obviously not possible when connecting to a public hotspot, but it may be possible when connecting to a friend's wifi access point.
Most of the long range antennas will have a limited angle where they can pick up a wireless connection, this means you will need to know where the public wireless router is already so you can point the antenna at the router.
Here are the simple steps you will need to take to connect to a network using a long range antenna:
1. Find out where a public (or friend’s) Wi-Fi router is located.
2. Point your long range antenna in the connect direction and adjust until you get the strongest possible signal.
3. Enter the password and connect to the network as you would with any other network.
What Not To Do!!!
Many of you may find that live in a building where you can connect to an unsuspecting neighbor's unprotected Wi-Fi signal.
While this is of course technically stealing, potentially immoral and a sure fire way to annoy your neighbors when they realize why their connection is so slow, it also opens you up to hacking as other people may also be on the unprotected network.
Free Wi-Fi Access Options (when not at home)
Most cafes nowadays offer free Wi-Fi to their customers. These often require a password, which means you may need to buy a coffee to use the free internet.
Of course the passwords often don’t get changed that frequently so you may well be able to continue using a protected Wi-Fi network after buying just one cup of coffee.
If not though and you end up paying for a drink every time you use a wireless network, the costs can soon build up so this is certainly something you need to consider.
Fast Food Restaurants
It is also common for fast food restaurants to offer free WI-Fi. Most fast food restaurants will require you to make a purchase before they let you use their Wi-FI, although not all do.
McDonalds is one of the most famous fast food restaurants to offer free Wi-Fi, however many others do too.
As with cafes, most libraries offer free Wi-Fi. Unlike cafes, most libraries will not require you to buy anything to use their connection. This can make connecting to a libraries network much easier.
You may still need to get a password to access the network which could mean heading into the library itself. This type of public network is often loosely restricted, with low wireless security so you should keep that in mind.
Dangers Of Public Wi-Fi Networks
When using a public Wi-Fi network you must remember that any data that passes through a network is at risk of being stolen. As such it is best to not use sites that require passwords, or any type of payment details.
You should also watch out for public Wi-Fi that has no apparent reason. This could well be set up specifically to steal the data of unsuspecting users. Always err on the side of caution when it comes to public Wi-Fi and remember that if it is easy for you to connect to the network, it is just as easy for hackers to also access the network.
You can also use a VPN for increased protection when using public networks. VPNs encrypt all data that travels to and from your computer and routes it through a server. This can help protect your data.
Wrapping Up Free Wi-Fi
In conclusion getting free Wi-FI at home really just involves finding a free public connection, or friend's wifi and connecting to it. Your chances of getting a good connection can be improved by buying a high gain, or directional wireless antenna as they can significantly extend your wireless range.
The obvious benefit to this is the fact that it doesn't cost anything although there are also downsides such as poor connections, setup costs and the risk of having all your data stolen.
The best way to get free Wi-Fi is to use a friend’s connection, as by doing this you can sleep easier knowing the safety of your data is improved. And you can likely get a good connection if you live close by. If they don't live too close, but you both have access to directional antennas, then this could be an option.
Hopefully you have enjoyed this tutorial, please share the article if you have enjoyed it or comment if you have any further questions!