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

Will a Mesh Router Work in a Garage?

RBS50 orbi

Episode 1849

Bud from Anaheim, CA

Bud has a two-story condo, but his WiFi is a dead spot. He tried an extender, but it didn't do anything. Can he use a mesh system? Leo says it probably won't work. The garage probably has a firewall that has metal in it, which is treating his garage like a faraday cage. So a mesh won't work. But there's a better way to solve it ... powerline networking. TPLink makes devices that users plug into the AC on one end and one in the garage. As long as there isn't a fuse box or a junction box in between, he can use the electrical grid as a data network as well as for electricity.

Why Can't I Connect to the Internet via WiFi on MacBook Pro?

Airport Extreme

Episode 1849

Fran from Studio City

Fran's WiFi has suddenly stopped working in her MacBook. She can connect to her Airport Extreme in network settings, but her internet connection doesn't work via WiFi. It works via Ethernet, and all her other devices work fine. Leo says that if she's getting strong signal strength, it means the laptop just isn't connecting. What may be happening is that the router isn't giving her computer an IP address, and as such, the OS then assigns a local network address (usually starting with 169). 

Should I Get the eero 6 or 6 Pro?

eero 6

Episode 1848

Paul from Columbus, OH

Paul is upgrading his eero mesh router in favor of either the Pro 6 or 6 series. Thoughts? Leo says that the difference is that the Pro 6 is tri-band, while the regular 6 is dual-band. So the Pro 6 gives you a second 5 GHz band. If you use a lot of devices, that can be beneficial. The 6e, though, is on the horizon, and that will give you a fourth band. So a new series 6 may be 6e capable, though it may not be turned on. So it could be worth it to wait until after CES if you can. 

Do I Need an AVS with Windows 11?


Episode 1846

Tom from Tampa, FL

Tom has a rapid-fire series of questions - 

1. Upgraded to Windows 11. Does he need antivirus? Leo says Windows Defender comes with it and it's all users need.

2. Is a VPN good for gaming? Leo says no. It'll slow gamers down. VPNs are good for privacy, but it really depends on what one's "threat level" is online. 

3. His smart TV. Is there one remote to rule them all? Leo says that the Logitech Harmony was until Logitech recently discontinued them. But he may be able to buy one. It's still on the Logitech website.

How Can I Improve My WiFi?


Episode 1845

Victoria from Pasadena, CA

Victoria wants to know about WiFi extenders. Leo says that WiFi extenders help give better coverage in the home. WiFi doesn't travel well through walls and people. So the best way to improve WiFi is to place a router up higher in the house. Like on a shelf. It's also a good idea to use a router that is dual-band. Let smart devices use the 2.4 band, while you use the 5.0 band. A Mesh WiFi router will also help solve the problem because users can add satellites that can expand a mesh network and improve the coverage.

How Can I Stream Video Overseas?

Tiny Hardware Firewall

Episode 1836

Mike from Burnsville, MN

Mike is going to be in the Philippines and will have to quarantine for a week. How can he watch Netflix and other streaming? Leo says to use a VPN. Virtual Private Networks will mask your location and bypass any geographic restrictions. Most will let you choose a location for your server so that it makes you appear to be in the proper country. Leo recommends ExpressVPN. It works quite well with overseas streaming restrictions. Leo also recommends a travel router like the Tiny Hardware Firewall, which comes with its own VPN.

Should I Upgrade My Mesh Router to a WiFi 6 Model?

WiFi 6

Episode 1833

Charles from North Carolina

Charles wants to know if he should upgrade to a WiFi 6 mesh router. Leo says if you want to future proof, it may be a good idea, but he won't get more than 10% better performance. And it's not so much the devices are faster, but that WiFi 6 networks are better at managing all the devices that can connect to the network. Up to 73 of them. And most of the devices aren't WiFi 6 compatible. And WiFi 6e is coming quickly, followed by WiFi 7. So it's OK to skip a generation.

Why Won’t My Smart Plugs Connect to Google Nest?

Google Nest

Episode 1830

Richard from San Diego, CA

Richard wants to connect his smart plugs to his Google Nest mesh router. But they aren't connecting. Leo says that Google Nest Mesh is a dual-band / tri-band and the smart plugs are looking for just 2.4 GHz. It's possible that they have mistakenly attached to the 5 GHz band because its signal may be stronger. Some routers allow you to turn that radio off and the plugs should connect. Once it's paired, you can then turn the 5 GHz band back on.

Why Can’t I See My Media Devices on My WiFi Network?

Google Home

Episode 1828

Victor from Columbia, SC

David can't see his Google Home device and his Chromecast on his wifi network. Leo says if you're on the same network, and can see both, you should be able to see them. But Google Home uses Bluetooth to signal its presence online, so you have to turn on Bluetooth in order to see it, along with WiFi. You don't have to join it, but you do have to turn it on. You also have to look for Load Media Router Component Extension. Here's a how to, from ScooterX.