Networking

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

Is a Public Apartment WiFi Network Secure?

WiFi

Episode 1814

Rudy from Montreal, Quebec, CAN

Rudy wants to know how secure public apartment wifi is if everyone is using the same password? Leo says it's not secure at all. What it means though, is that anyone who knows the password can use the wifi. But it also means that if someone is malicious, they can use hacking tools to gain access to other people's computers and data. That's why Leo says that a VPN is a must for a situation like this. Or at least only surfing to HTTPS websites only, so the traffic is encrypted. Another option is to use a travel router. It's designed to join a public network and provides a barrier like a VPN.

Why Is My Wifi So Slow?

WiFi

Episode 1812

Bill from Sallisbury, MD

Bill works from home. Lately, he's been running into interference on his wifi network. Leo says that's probably just congested as just about everything now in your home connects to the internet, especially security. And when you multiply it by all the houses in your neighborhood, and that WiFi band is dealing with rush hour. How to keep them all secure? Leo says the best you can do is keep all your devices updated. But change the name of your router and make sure it's using encryption.

Should I Get a New Router/Modem Combo?

TP-Link Archer C4000

Episode 1807

Bill from Statesville, NC

Bill wants to know what's better: a router/modem combo or a separate router and modem. Leo prefers to separate a two. You want to get a cable modem that is DOCSIS 3.1 and make sure that your ISP supports it. You'll also need to call them and get them to accept the MAC address of the modem. Bill is also having issues with download speeds on his iPad. If you're having WiFi issues, then try putting the router higher up. Also, reposition it. Another option is to try powerline networking with TPLink. But it would help if you were getting at least 100MB per second down.

Why Does My Internet Signal Drop Out?

AC1750

Episode 1806

Jerry from Santa Rosa, CA

Jerry bought a new Netgear AC1750 WiFi Modem/Router for his home network, replacing his cable modem. Leo says he wants to be sure it uses DOCSIS 3.1. It's much faster. But his streaming audio buffers all the time. Leo says the problem isn't the router, it's the internet connection. Get the ISP to come out and check the signal into the house. Then he can decide if the problem is his or theirs. It could also just be congestion.

How Can I Improve My WiFi Range?

AC2900

Episode 1806

Walt from San Diego, CA

Walt is a farmer who has several high-tech water controllers that are connected by his Asus AC2900 router. But he needs a better range to reach the controllers that are at the extreme end. Leo says that WiFi goes about 100-150 feet. So those on the edge of that will fade out depending on the conditions. Leo thinks a mesh system would be beneficial, but Walt says that the controllers don't support MESH. Leo says that may be due to the 5GHz band. Orbi makes an outdoor router system that could work, but he'll have to make sure it doesn't connect to 5ghz.

How Can I Connect to Wi-Fi on an RV?

MiFi

Episode 1804

Jan from Riverside, CA

Jan and her husband bought an RV and want to know how to get online while traveling. Leo says there are three ways. 1) There will probably be Wi-Fi at any campground or RV park she can stop at. But it will likely be overloaded and slow. 2) She can hotspot from the cellular carrier. She can open up a phone for it or pick up a MiFi card to handle multiple devices. It'll be dependent on the coverage map though. Lastly, she can get an RV satellite connection. The problem there is they have to re-aim it every time they stop, and they will not work while they drive.

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. 

Alarmist Media Reacts to Amazon Sidewalk Networking

 Sidewalk

Episode 1801

Amazon Sidewalk will begin operating on June 8th, and it's got the media sounding what Leo calls a scare tactic. What Amazon Sidewalk is, will be a wireless network for things like location tracking of tagged animals and devices and the white paper indicates Sidewalk will be private and secure. It uses Amazon Echo and Alexa to create a neighborhood-wide mesh network for being able to locate your devices.