Wi-Fi routers, home servers, virtual private networks, and more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Roger just got a new Synology NAS and wants to know if he can put his old Synology hard drives into it. Leo says it may not be able to due to the age of the older NAS. There is a good app that comes with your Synology called Hyper Backup that will automatically sync two Synology's so that you have the same data on both. So instead of getting rid of it, use it as a backup to the backup, or at least migrate from one to another.
Jimmy's wife is going to have a baby soon, and she wants to be able to log into her account at work remotely while on maternity leave from work. Leo says that Join.Me is a great free option if her work IT guys allow it. Leo uses RemotePC (sponsor of the radio show). It's cheap at $4 a year for two computers. And it has a 7-day free trial.
Nolan wants to know if he can use a VPN to make networks think he's somewhere else. Leo says yes, that's pretty much what the VPN does. Some people use VPNs to stream other countries' video streams for that very reason. VPNs have a client and a server. The client goes on the users' PC, while the server is somewhere else. Users then log into the VPN, and the IP address will be wherever they connect to it. But there is a catch. VPN providers use a pool of IP addresses that they own, and they identify them as VPN addresses.
Ken recently automated his home with Google Nest, but the problem he's having is that when he's asking his phone to take a picture, he's told by Google Nest that they can't do that. Leo says that's a common issue as sometimes, Google doesn't know where to process a request. That goes away over time as Nest learns speech patterns. It also helps to be more specific in commands.