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How Do I Get A WiFi Password?

Harry from Auburn, CA writes: I get a strong WiFi signal in my apt, how do I get the password?

Thanks, Harry.

Answer: Harry, I will assume you don’t mean the WiFi signal generated by your own router. In that case you would be the person who set the password. If you’ve set up a WiFi network in your apartment and lost the password, this article has tips for retrieving it: Retrieving Your WiFi Network Password. [1]

But if you’re just trying to use a secure WiFi network that your computer is detecting in your apartment, you would get the password by asking the owner for it. If your apartment complex offers free WiFi, you would ask at the office.  Otherwise, the signal most likely belongs to a neighbor or a business who is paying for that service.

If the network belongs to a business (like Starbucks or McDonalds) that offers free WiFi to customers, you can learn the password at the business. But usually they intend that service for customers using their computers or mobile device while they are on the premises. Though, normally they don’t make much of a fuss if neighbors use that network as long as you aren’t using so much bandwidth you slow things down.

If the network belongs to one of your neighbors, you would get the password from him or her, though since that person is paying for the service, they may be reluctant to share. It would be like someone knocking on your door and asking if they could plug their appliances into your outlets so they can run their stuff without paying the electric bill. Though, if they’re a really good friend, maybe they would be willing to split the cost of the service with you.

We get a lot of questions from readers trying to figure out how to piggyback onto their neighbors WiFi, so it’s probably a good time to emphasize that while many places offer free WiFi to customers and residents – WiFi isn’t free. Someone has to pay for the service.

Even if someone has neglected to secure their home WiFi network, that doesn’t entitle others to use it without permission. Just as an unlocked door doesn’t invite people to come in and have a snack in the kitchen.  That’s why it is very important to secure your home WiFi network [2] because people will hop right on and use the service you’re paying for and you could get a nice bill telling you you’ve gone over your data limit.

~ Cynthia