How to Connect Two Apple Base Stations

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Apple’s AirPort base stations are routers that allow users to configure a wireless network very easily. One problem that wireless networks are susceptible to is the lack of range over a large area. Apple has a built-in solution to that problem. AirPort units can be configured to extend a wireless network seamlessly, allowing a single network to have greater coverage. Although there are a few different ways to connect two AirPort routers, this is the method that Apple recommends.

Things You'll Need

  • Two AirPort base stations (brands include Time Capsule, Extreme or Express)
  • Ethernet RJ-45 cable
  • Attach both AirPort units to a power source and allow them to boot up. Connect to the wireless network provided by the first unit, which is the one attached to your cable or DSL modem. Launch the AirPort Utility (located in the "Utilities" subfolder in the "Applications" folder) and then select the base station in the left-hand column. Click on “Manual Setup” and then the “Wireless” tab and confirm the “Wireless Mode” option is set to “Create a wireless network”.

  • Make a note of the wireless network name and confirm that “Allow This Network To Be Extended” is checked. Also jot down what type of wireless security (such as "WPA Personal" or "WPA2 Personal") is enabled.

  • Pull down the pizza-shaped wireless icon to connect to the wireless network provided by the second AirPort unit (which has a default name that contains “Apple”). Highlight the unit in the column on the left in the AirPort Utility window and select the “Base Station” tab. Give this unit a name and password and then click on the “Wireless” tab.

  • Choose “Join a wireless network” from “Wireless Mode” on the second AirPort. Enable the "Wireless Security" to the same settings as noted in Step 2 and enter the wireless password. Click the “Update” button and allow the unit to restart.

  • Confirm that both units are working seamlessly by relaunching AirPort Utility and verifying that both units are listed in the left-hand column. Also pull down the wireless network icon to make sure that there is only one wireless network that is being broadcast between these two units.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can connect to your AirPort unit (except an AirPort Express) using an Ethernet cable.
  • Use an AirPort Extreme or Time Capsule for the “main” unit and an AirPort Express for the second unit if possible.
  • This process can also work using two AirPort Express or two AirPort Extreme units.
  • An unprotected wireless network is just asking for trouble.
  • A lost or forgotten password will require that both units be reset and the entire setup process repeated.
  • You will temporarily lose network connectivity when you update AirPort units.
  • Some of the older AirPort units (the UFO-shaped models) can be buggy when connected to newer units.

References

  • Photo Credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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