Does A Wi-Fi Extender Copy/Clone The Router? (SSID/Password)

Although Wi-Fi extenders can be very useful devices in the home to expand wireless coverage, there’s some confusion as to how they actually work, and what they do or don’t do. Are range extenders basically using the same network as the router? Are they copying and cloning everything over? Do they even have their own network?

That’s what we’ll clear up in this article, examining some of the nuance of the issue. But the bottom line answer is that an extender does to a large extent “copy” or “clone” the router, while still maintaining it’s own network.

A Wi-Fi extender will by default copy or clone most of the exact same credentials as your main router. The SSID/network name will be almost the same, with a small “EXT” or “EXTENDER” suffix on the end, unless manually configured differently during setup, and the wireless password is always cloned and identical to that of the host router.

However, despite this, a extender always creates and maintains it’s OWN, separate network to that of the host router it’s drawing it’s signal from, even if the credentials are (almost) the same.

Let’s explain this apparent contradiction in more detail.

An Extender Creates It’s Own Network (With Copied Credentials)

As we’ve covered in another article, a Wi-Fi extender always creates and broadcasts it’s own separate network from the router, even if the credentials are largely cloned or copied over by default.

Therefore, if you search on your device for nearby Wi-Fi networks in range, your Wi-Fi extender will always show as it’s own distinct network. Although it’s credentials may be similar to your router, they won’t be EXACTLY the same – there will be a slight difference in the SSID/network name. It often just has an “EXT” or “EXTENDER” suffix on the end to differentiate it, but the rest of the details are copied over or cloned from your main router.

  • When brand new – The extender will emit a really obvious, generic SSID, like “TP-Link-Extender”, that will show up on your Wi-Fi list. Also, when brand new, this network will be open, and will not need a password to connect. You just click on it to connect, and then log into the extender to start configuration (more on this below)
  • When configured – When it’s been run through the setup process and properly configured by the user, your extender will have a more customized network name, that can be very similar to your main router (eg. “BT-SmartHub-12345-EXTENDER”, but not identical, and still it’s own separate network. A configured extender’s network will also now be secured, and require a password to connect (the same as your main router’s).

Therefore there is some nuance to issue – Wi-Fi extenders do rely on routers to function, as this is where they draw their signal and data from, effectively forwarding on traffic from the router. However, they still maintain their own network that needs connecting to separate from the router. So extenders are in a sense both dependent on, but also separate to, the host router they are connected to.

Can You Change The SSID/Username?

By default, if you run through the normal extender setup process on a browser, or use the WPS button, an extender will issue itself with an cloned SSID (network name) that is almost the same as, but not identical to, your main router (you can change it to be identical if you want).

For example, if your main router always shows on your network list as “HomeNet-Hub-6756”, your extender might show as “HomeNet-Hub-6756-EXTENDER” once set up.

But this is only the default setting, and as long as you set the extender up using the longer winded but more customizable method (using a browser or Tethering app), you can actually change the SSID of your extender to anything you like if you want.

For example, you could change it to “BOBS-EXTENDER” or “WIFI-BOOSTER-FIRST-FLOOR”, or anything else you want.

During the extender setup process, there will be a screen where your pre-created extender SSID/password are displayed, and you just need to edit the SSID in the box to whatever you want, and be sure to save the settings to confirm.

Can You Change The Wireless Password?

The wireless password of the extender is automatically copied or cloned over from your main router, and this is something that cannot be changed.

So whilst you can edit the extender’s SSID, you can’t edit the password to my knowledge. This must always be the same as your host router, and cannot be altered.

I haven’t used every single brand of extender, so I can’t be 100% sure of this, but in my experience, every Wi-Fi extender I’ve set up always locks the password to the same one as your router, and you can’t edit it (anyone who’s used an extender that DOES allow you to change the Wi-Fi password, let me know on the Contact Page).

On the plus side, this makes connecting easier, as you always know where you are – you just enter the same wireless password you’d enter to connect to your router, and this will always work for your extender too.

See our Extenders page for links to some reliable models in different price brackets

What About The Extender’s Admin Username/Password?

Everything we’ve covered so far relates to the Wi-Fi/wireless credentials of an extender – what you enter to connect to the device’s network and access the web via it’s connection to your router. These are largely copied over with small changes.

But what about the access/admin/configuration/settings username and password? These are what you enter to access the extender’s admin/settings panel and either configure it for the first time, or change other settings.

These settings are NOT copied over from your main router, and the extender always has it’s own version of these distinct from the router, both in it’s new and configured state:

  • When brand new – The default admin credentials are on a sticker on the back of the extender itself, and are worth noting down before setting it up (default URL login, username, password, default SSID).
  • When configured – There’s always a screen you are taken through during the extender’s setup process, usually very near the beginning, where you set your own custom access username/password, changing them away from the defaults on the label for better security. Note these down as if you lose them, you’ll need to factory reset the extender to regain access. There will also be an option within the settings panel of all extenders to change the admin access details at any time, such as this:


The Easiest Way To Set Up A Repeater (WPS Method – Clones Everything)

Using the WPS/Pair button is the easiest way to connect a router to an extender, and is also the method that copies or clones the router credentials most closely, with only the extender’s SSID/wireless name varying slightly from your router.

Here are the quick steps to do WPS setup (it’s quick and easy if you have physical access to the router):

  • Push the WPS button on your router until it starts flashing.
  • Push the WPS/Pair/Wi-Fi button on your extender until it starts flashing.
  • Wait up to 2 minutes for the devices to “find” each other and connect.
  • A solid green light on your extender indicates a working connection.
  • Using this method, your extender’s SSID will be set for you, and will be very similar to that of your router, and the password will be the same.

See our full guide with pictures on how to do WPS setup, for more details.

The Longer Way To Set Up An Extender (More Customizable)

If you want more customizability with the setup of your extender, to set an SSID more different from the router’s, you need to set it up on a browser or a Tethering app on your phone, if available.

Here are the quick steps for this process:

  • Plug in and connect to your extender’s default open network.
  • Open any browser and type in your extender’s default URL login (eg., listed on the label.
  • Type in the default admin username/password, listed on the label, to enter the extender’s configuration panel.
  • Find and connect to your router on the network list by entering it’s password.
  • Run through the rest of the setup steps to configure new network credentials for the extender (a default SSID very similar to your router’s, is given to you using this method, but you change it to something else if you want doing it this way – for example “BILLS-REPEATER”). The wireless password is always the same as your router’s
  • Connect to your extender using it’s new credentials, and the finish/save/confirm settings and exit the extender’s admin panel.
  • Your extender is now running it’s own secure network, and the SSID can also be very different to your router if you wish, but the wireless password is always cloned.

See our full article on setting up a Wi-Fi extender on a browser, for more detailed steps, including screenshots.

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