Optimizing your home’s Wi-Fi network
Marc Saltzman, a leading
high-tech reporter, contributes to more than three dozen
appears on radio and TV,
and is the author of more
than ;; books. He’s on
Saltzman will answer selected
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ARE YOUR Net;ix movies stuttering more than
Ken from A Fish Called Wanda?
Good news: You have a few options to improve
the speed and performance of your wireless network. The following tips should help if you have
several Wi-Fi devices on your network at the same
time—such as a computer, printer, smartphone,
tablet, smart TV, video game console, multiroom
sound system and smart home devices.
Examine your router. The ;rst step is to ensure your router, which enables your wireless
internet, is in an optimal spot. Keep it on the
main or top ;oor of your home and close to the
center of the house for optimum reach. Refrain
from keeping your router in the basement, if you
have one, as it’ll be tough for devices above it to get
a strong signal. Also, if it’s been a few years since
you bought a router, it’s likely time to pick up a
new one, as the new models are much faster, more
secure and easier to set up than previous models.
Consider going mesh. If you live in a larger
home (or an older home with, say, concrete walls)
you might consider a mesh network, composed of
an advanced router with multiple bases or hubs
around the home. These hubs wirelessly communicate with the router to blanket a broader space
with faster and more reliable Wi-Fi. Another ben-e;t: Unlike the case with a repeater or extender,
you don’t need to change the name of the network,
as your Wi-Fi-enabled devices will automatically
join the closest and strongest signal.
Check your service. If these steps don’t
do the trick, check with your internet service
provider (ISP) to see if there’s a faster service
in your neighborhood—budget permitting, of
course. Usually, the more you pay, the faster the
download and upload speeds you’ll enjoy and
the more data you’re allowed to use per month.
If your ISP o;ers it, unlimited is the way to go—
especially if you have multiple devices on your
Wi-Fi network at home.
Time to upgrade? Older devices that use
Wi-Fi—like that eight-year-old laptop or
printer—operate on slower Wi-Fi frequencies.
It might be time for an upgrade. Even if you buy a
faster router, your weakest link may be the aging
gadget you’re trying to connect to your Wi-Fi,
and there’s little you can do to accelerate speeds.
Keep it safe. Especially now that routers have
a broader range than ever, it’s critical to have a
good password on your home’s Wi-Fi connection. A good password is at least seven characters
long; has a combination of letters, numbers and
symbols; and can often be changed on the router’s app or by going to the router’s login page on a
web browser. Why do you need a good password?
Neighbors who secretly use your wireless network
get a free ride, which can also slow down your
internet performance. What’s more, you might
be liable (until proven otherwise) if nearby web
surfers download illegal content, such as pirated
movies, from your Wi-Fi connection.
Encrypt it. If you haven’t done this already,
you’ll want to enable encryption on your wireless
router to reduce the odds of anyone trying to hack
in. On your router’s setup app or web page, ;nd
the security settings. Be sure to turn on WPA;
Personal (which might be enabled by default)
and then set the encryption type to AES. You may
be prompted to add a password. While you’re at
it, change your router’s administrator username,
if it was kept as the default name (like “admin”).
Risks with more devices? As more devices
join your Wi-Fi, it could be argued there are
more points of entry for malicious types to access
your network. As long as you heed these suggestions, your network should be secure. Look for
Wi-Fi products that offer strong security and
downloadable updates to patch any problems.
Also, be sure to install strong cybersecurity
software, including an anti-virus program and
a ;rewall. C