routers

What's the Difference Between a Mesh Router and a Network Extender?

Orbi

Episode 1802

Richard from Atlanta, GA

Richard wants to know how different a mesh network is from a network extender. Leo says that extenders repeat the signal and send it along the way. So the bandwidth gets cut in half because it's communicating half the time. Mesh, by contrast, has its own back channel to talk to the router and satellite units. Leo says it's a little primitive, but he could have two of the same wifi routers with the same SSID and password, and they could hand off the signal to each other. But the Netgear Orbi Mesh router is the better option. And it uses WiFi6. 

How Can I Keep My Router Secure & Network Safe?

nighthawk

Episode 1788

Vee from Huntington Beach, CA

Vee wants to know if she needs any more protection than her router to keep her safe online while she's teaching.  She doesn't need to add anything to the router itself, but the best thing is to guard her online behavior and keep everything online up to date. Update the OS regularly, when available, as well as the apps. Your browser should automatically update. Also, the router needs to be kept up to date and periodically, it pays to look for an update for it. Also, change the password from default. Turn off WAN administration. And turn off UPnP (Universal Plug n Play).

Router Manufacturers Delayed A Year Due to Chip Shortage

Computer Chip

Episode 1787

An ongoing chip shortage is causing many industries to fall behind in manufacturing. From cars to computers. The latest is router manufacturers, which are over a year delayed. What is the problem? It's multi-faceted. Covid is part of it. High Demand is another. There's a shortage of silicon right now. But it's also that container ship that was stuck in the Suez. But it's also an exclusive deal that Apple has made with some chip manufacturers which bought up all their stock. And even then, Mac and iPad production has been delayed. Additionally, there have been fires at several factories.

How Can I Assign IP Addresses to Everything on My Home Network?

IP Address

Episode 1784

Mark from Studio City, CA

Mark's home wifi modem has run out of ethernet ports. So he bought a five port gigabit switch, but nothing really works. Leo says that everything has to have a unique IP address, so a switch won't work. You need a router, which will assign unique addresses to everything you need to plug into your network. Connect the switch to the router's ethernet port, and then the router will assign the IPs as needed. 

What Router Should I Buy?

Routers

Episode 1782

Rick from Capistrano Beach, CA

Rick has been having issues with his wifi router. He has dropouts, and he has to unplug it and plug it back along with his modem. Leo says that when a router starts to fail a lot, that indicates that it's wearing out and it's time to replace it. Leo says that if you are renting from your ISP, he recommends turning in your cable modem and request a new DOCSIS 3.1 model. Or buy your own and save the rental fee.  Should he get a mesh router? Leo says that if you have a house that's greater than 1300 sq. feet, then it's worth it. But smaller than that, and a regular router is fine.

How Can I Bond Two ISPs So That One Takes Over Automatically When the Other Drops Out?

Speedify VPN

Episode 1781

Gary from Buffalo, NY

Gary has two internet services, T-Mobile and Spectrum. One is for work. He wants to be able to hook them up, so if one goes down, the other picks up. But there's a lag when he uses Zoom. Leo says you can do it with Speedify. It's a VPN that does what's called "failover." But it causes that latency because it goes through different servers. Leo does it with his Ubiquity router Edge Router X and two WAN ports. There's zero latency. TPLink also does that, and they make good stuff. 

Does My Router Have 2.4 GHz Band?

Spectrum

Episode 1776

George from Santa Monica, CA

George is trying to set up his smart home hub to turn on his lights and he's having issues that his WiFi router won't take 2.4 GHz, only 5 GHz. Leo says to double-check that the router is only 5 GHz because Leo says that's an odd one. It's possible that Spectrum may have just turned the 2.4Ghz off. If so, he can always turn it on. But if not, then it's time to get a new router. And he will save money on rental fees in doing so as well.

The 5 Things to Do With a New Router...

Here are the five things you need to do with a new router ...

1. Change the SSID and the default password.

2. Turn off WAN Administration (this allows administering the router from the outside)

3. Turn off Universal Plug n Play (UPnP)

4. Turn off WPS WiFi Protected Setup (one button log in)

5. Turn on Encryption and select WPA3 or WPA2. Do NOT use WEP. It's not secure.

Is WPA2 Secure?

WiFi

Episode 1776

Jeff from Pasadena, CA

Jeff is getting a warning about his WPA2 WiFi encryption. Should he move to a new router? Leo says that WPA2 was cracked, but he'd really have to have someone targeting him to really worry about it. WPA3 is the new standard and routers are starting to include it, but Leo doesn't think there's anything to worry about. He could check the router's firmware update to see if they offer it now. How about separating the SSID for the 2.4Ghz and 5.0Ghz bands? Leo says he can do that, but won't really have to.

What Router Should I Buy to Replace My Old Router?

ASUS Merlin

Episode 1766

JC from Sherman Oaks, CA

JC's Asus router is no longer supported by the company. What router should he buy? Leo says he doesn't really have to buy a new router. He can install DDWRT's firmware on it and then keep that router up to date. The chatroom recommends going to asus-wrtmerlin.net for a custom firmware for the Asus router.

But if he wants a new one, Leo recommends getting a mesh router, especially for a house as large as JC's (2500 sq ft). A base station and a beacon would be good. Leo's favorite is Eero.