Is a hardwired Fire TV more secure?

ART from Monrovia, CA

Episode 1506

Art bought an Amazon Fire TV and wants to know if he can hardwire it for security. Leo says that a standard FireTV is wifi only. The FireTV Cube offers an adapter dongle for it. And if your FireTV has an ethernet can do it. But if it doesn't, then you can't. Is it more secure? Leo says no. But it is faster and more consistent since you don't have to deal with congestion. Is a buy your own modem more secure? Leo says probably not. But you can save a lot of money in the long run by not renting your ISP's modem.

How much data do I really use?

Caller from

Episode 1506

The caller is flummoxed that he gets notified he's using 150GB of data every month. He doesn't stream or download things. What is going on? Leo says it's very easy to burn through 150GB a month. Windows updates are in the GB. You can go into your network and internet settings of your computer and see how much you're using on each computer. Your router may be able to tell you as well. Navigate to your router's address and it can tell you. If it doesn't, get a new router that can.

Do I need a service agreement to update my router firmware?

Episode 1504

David from Anaheim, CA
Netgear Orbi

David has a Netgear router and he wants to upgrade the firmware. Netgear won't do it because his support has expired. Leo says that older routers all need to be updated manually, but he doesn't need a service agreement to update it. He'd just download the firmware and install it. In fact, there should be a utility within the router settings to update the firmware. Most newer models autoupdate. So if staying updated is important, and it is, it would pay to get a new router. It'll be faster too. Mesh routers will be the best option.

Why can't I connect to 5GHz on Wi-Fi?

Episode 1503

John from Oxnard, CA

John upgraded his internet but his laptop says it only has 2.4 GHz available. Leo says that means his router is only 2.4 GHz. 802.11N routers are dual band with 2.4 and 5 Ghz bands. And there's even tri-band routers that offer two 5 GHz channels along with a 2.4 GHz channel. His laptop may also just be able to connect to 2.4 Ghz. John should look in his BIOS and software to see if the 5.0 GHz band is turned off.

Is my router safe?

Episode 1500

Heidi from Santa Monica, CA
Netgear Nighthawk AC2300

Heidi is worried about the Russian VPN Filter hack. She bought a Netgear router to replace it. Is she safe? Leo says that some Netgear models aren't protected, but if she installs the latest firmware, she should be OK, and NetGear does update routers automatically.

Is there a router not made in China?

Episode 1499

April from Brooksville, FL
ASUS AC3200 Wireless Tri-Band (Dual 5GHz + Single 2.4GHz) Gigabit Wi-Fi Router

April's router keeps dropping her. Leo says that routers do wear out and after several years, they become unreliable. It may just be time to get a new one. But her husband doesn't want one made in China. Leo says good luck with that. TP-Link has good routers, but that's in China. There are some that are made in Taiwan. That would do the trick. Asus also makes great routers. They are also updatable using DD-WRT open source firmware.

Am I safe from the VPN Filter hack?

Episode 1497

Neil from Phoenix, AZ
Asus AC3200 Router

Neil is worried that the VPN Filter hack will affect his Asus router because his model isn't protected. Should he be worried? Leo says first thing he can do is update his firmware. Asus keeps their firmware up to date regularly and uses open source DD-WRT firmware. So if there isn't one, he can patch it himself. But Asus routers are great because they update them constantly. Neil should reload the most current firmware, even if he has already updated it. That will wipe out any additional problems.

Why is my Wi-Fi so slow?

Episode 1496

Ron from Carlsbad, CA
Netgear Orbi

Ron has UVerse and an extender and it slows to a crawl when he streams. Leo suspects that it's his modem that's causing the problem. It's likely an out of date modem that's slowing the network traffic down. Rebooting could help. A better Wi-Fi router could help too. Routers do wear out over time. Leo recommends the NetGear Orbi. He can set up the AT&T router to work in bridge mode and then use the new router to route the traffic. It'll be a lot better.

Add More Ethernet Ports to Your Router

While Wi-Fi is more popular and prevalent than ever, it's still no match for a hardwired ethernet connection. But many of the new routers, especially mesh routers, don't have many ethernet ports built into them. Fortunately, if you have at least one ethernet port, you can expand that to as many as you need with a "Switch". Netgear makes some quality switches, but any unmanaged networking switch should work just fine. They all are very easy to use, as long as you get an unmanaged Switch.