Networking

Wi-Fi routers, home servers, virtual private networks, and more.

Why can't my Mac connect to the Internet?

Betty from Madison, WI

Episode 1296

Betty can't log into the internet with her Mac. It says there are no plugins to do so. Leo says to check your router connection to see if your WiFi router is turned on. You can do that in the Apple's Network system preferences. If you can't see your access point, you're not connected to it. If it's connected, then look if the internet connection is available. If the WiFi router isn't working properly, it'll be connected, but it won't go anywhere. It'll just be a local address starting with 168. Try resetting your router.

How can I get a better Wi-Fi signal?

David from Long Beach, CA

Episode 1296

David's landlady has wifi but she doesn't want to improve the signal so he can get a better connection. Leo says you can get a WiFi antenna to improve your signal,but if you can convince your landlady to put the access point in a better location, that would be the ticket. Check out RadioLabs.com for tips on which directional antenna to buy to get a better signal. You could also offer to buy her a newer 802.11 AC router. Leo likes the Asus C3200. It goes a long way.

Does the Tiny Hardware Firewall give you extra protection over a VPN?

Episode 1296

Ron from Baltimore, MD
Tiny Hardware Firewall

Ron has the Tiny Hardware Firewall, which he likes. Once he's connected to the VPN inside of it, what does the firewall do, though? Leo says that the firewall is the first level of protection. It acts as a router and is the attack surface, not the computer. A router is a dumb device that doesn't know what the attack is and ignores it, unless there's a security flaw inside the system. Like a router at home, the Tiny Hardware Firewall gives a little extra protection, though.

Why doesn't OpenDNS work for me?

Pedro from Bronx, NY

Episode 1291

Pedro created an account at OpenDNS but it isn't working for him. Leo says that OpenDNS can protect kids with a custom "phone book" that has a list of approved domain names in it. OpenDNS can then filter out the undesired addresses that he wouldn't want. If he inputs the router server settings of OpenDNS properly, it'll filter the traffic correctly. But if his kids have figured out how to change the settings in the computer, it can override that, unless he's made the settings in the router itself.

How can I monitor my network activity in Windows 10?

Episode 1284

Chip from Cherry Hill, NJ
Network Activity Indicator

Chip just upgraded to Windows 10 and he misses the notifications of network traffic in his system tray. Leo says that was a feature that was dropped several generations ago because there is a rich ecosystem of third party developers that can provide the same functions.

Chip should check out the Network Activity Indicator from itsamples.com

How can I run a TV signal to another building?

Jim from Oxnard, CA

Episode 1284

Jim's church has an auxiliary building that's about 300 feet away and they'd like to create a connection in order to broadcast the church service when they need overflow seating. Leo says he can create a directional Wi-Fi setup that will beam the service directly to the building without the need to deploy cable. He should check out this article at RadioLabs.com. It won't cost any more than running an HDMI cable.

Why can't I use my Nest Cam with my network?

Episode 1284

Frank from Pomona, CA
Nest Cam

Frank is having trouble installing his Nest Cam. It won't work unless he turns off his firewall. Leo says that's not good. But it's the nature of a firewall, as it blocks a conversation between incoming and outgoing traffic. That's why Leo recommends using a router instead. He can also use the DMZ feature, where he could allow the Nest Cam to bypass protection. Leo doesn't recommend it, but it can be one option.

Can I modify my router settings?

Cam from Garden Grove, CA

Episode 1282

Cam has an Arris Wi-Fi router hardwired into his computer, but he can't modify the settings. Leo says he should be able to. He should call the cable company and ask them for the password to access the router. Or, instead of using their router, ask them what third party routers they will support and he can buy his own. He'll want a DOCSIS III.

Check out this app: Snoop Snitch in the Google Play store. It will tell him how secure his router is.

How can I create a media server network?

Seth from Long Beach, CA

Episode 1279

Seth wants to set up a home media server for a friend. He has an array of hard drives that connect via Thunderbolt and wants to share those with everyone else in the house. Can he do that or does he have to migrate to a separate NAS? Leo says that a Home Media Server is a kind of NAS that can be an older computer or even a hard drive that runs Apple Media Player or even Windows Media Player. In fact, many routers can do this as well. Apple's Airport can do this. But the best idea is just to get a Network Attached Storage and run the home media server software that comes with it.

Why does my router drop the internet all the time?

Episode 1278

William from Capistrano Beach, CA
Apple Airport Extreme

William has an Airport Extreme router that disconnects 3-4 times a day. Leo says that's not unusual with routers. They're basically just a dumb computer that sometimes crashes. So he'll have to unplug and reboot it. If it continues after that, it indicates that the router is starting to fail and he'll need to replace it. He can also try rebooting his modem.