Wi-Fi routers, home servers, virtual private networks, and more.
Henry wants to extend his Wi-Fi upstairs. What extender should he use? Leo says he has a few options. Mesh routers are great because they have satellites that he can plug into each room, creating a wireless grid for his home. These usually come with a base station and a few extenders. They're a bit pricey, but they have the advantage of having full duplex communication, so the speed isn't cut as it's passing along the signal. They also have great security features, they're easy to maintain through the app, and they update automatically.
Jane had DSL Extreme, but she says that AT&T won't allow it over the phone lines anymore. Leo says there's something going on with her particular neighborhood. She's still getting phone service, though. Jane says that AT&T isn't offering DSL either, but they're trying to push UVerse. Leo says that AT&T has decided to eliminate copper in her neighborhood and start using fiber. Fiber is glass and works better than copper.
Jeff wants to know why his internet slows down at night. Leo says that he ends up sharing bandwidth with his neighborhood and if it's slowing down in the evening, it's because everyone is on Netflix. He also has to factor in Wi-Fi congestion. Jeff could bypass the Wi-Fi router and plug directly into the modem and see if it speeds up. If it does, then he'll know it's Wi-Fi congestion. If not, then he'll know it's his because of heavy use in the neighborhood.
Nichole is having problems getting a clear Wi-Fi signal in the back of her home. Leo says that's largely due to congestion. Everything from a mobile phone to a tablet, to even a microwave are using that 2.4 Ghz band, and so there's a lot of congestion. One way to fix that is to get a dual-band router. The 5.0 GHz band is a lot less congested, but it doesn't have as good of a range. So she can use it for some of her traffic, and use the longer range signal for the back of the house. Or she could use a mesh router.
Ed has a Google mesh router system and he wants to be able to get Wi-Fi out in his barn, which is 100' away. Can he get another mesh unit or should he do ethernet? Leo says that if he has a window, then he could put a mesh unit on the windowsill, and another in the window of a barn so they would have line-of-sight connectivity. It's certainly worth a try. Ed could also try powerline networking if the barn and his home are on the same junction. The other option is to use a Wi-Fi antenna.
David's office uses a shipping container as an office and they have to use an external antenna to pick up the wireless signal, but it only connects to one computer. Can the external antenna be connected to a router? Leo says yes, it can, but the Wi-Fi standard is unique and router connectors vary. He'll need to go somewhere that can bundle the router with an attachable antenna to get the right match.
Ron and Jackie are having trouble getting wireless signal upstairs. What can they do? Leo says that any router will be compatible, but with all the congestion and a second story, Leo would recommend a mesh router system. The old router system is just not designed to handle the load. Mesh routers start at $300, but they are completely worth it because they will have no dropouts or dead spots and they are regularly updated to remain secure. Mesh routers will also automatically manage the network according to the quality of service.
Chris has been using the Linksys WRT3200 routers for his clients. Now he's getting notified of bad firmware in the routers. He contacted Linksys and they will replace them, but with 2 Velop Mesh Routers. What are his options? Leo says that if they're free, he'd take that. They're very good routers, so Leo wouldn't hesitate. Mesh routers may be a better option moving forward. They will get updated frequently and have much better reach for his clientele.
Dan has AT&T and a new TP-Link router. Can he use his own with the AT&T DSL modem that has a router built-in? Leo says yes. He can turn off the AT&T's router radios and network address translation. He could try putting it into bridge mode. He'll have to open up the browser IP address and look for a place that will enable him to turn off the router altogether. He'll also have to disable DHCP. If he can't do that, then he can put the TP-Link into bridge mode and it will just pass the signal along. He should also look for a passthrough mode.
Keith has two NAS drives attached to his network and none of his Windows-based computers can see the shared data folders, but his Android devices can. Leo says that since Keith's Chromebook and Android devices are based on Linux, it can probably see it without any emulation or extra drivers. The NAS could have a non-standard file sharing protocol that won't allow Windows to see it because it can't understand it.