Wi-Fi routers, home servers, virtual private networks, and more.
Karen had her power shut off recently due to the wildfires and now she can't connect to her network via WiFi. Rich says this is common and can happen when turning things back on. If she doesn't reboot both in the right order, she won't be able to connect. So Rich recommends turning them off again and unplugging them. Then plug in the modem, and the router afterward.
Richard is trying to use PLEX and he can't understand how to make it work. Leo says he can watch his own movies using a PLEX Server. That will serve up any media he has on the network.
Joey is having issues with his Plex media server (Plex is a sponsor of TWiT). He can see his media files on the Synology NAS, but he can't access the files at all. Leo says you may have to turn on a sharing file system like SMB. Stop and restart your file server software to be sure it's properly running. Ports may also need to be opened in your router. Check your firewall log to see if those ports are being blocked.
Karen wants to know if she should flash her firmware on her router to get it to work better. Leo says that in a way, you flash that firmware almost every time you update. But if you're talking about using third-party firmware, they can be very good, but they are limited in the routers they support. Check out DD-WRT.com and look in the router database to see if it's compatible. Most routers don't support it, sadly. What Leo recommends is ASUS routers, because they use their own flavor of DD-WRT.
Jeff is having issues with his WiFi coverage at his studio. Leo says that congestion is a major problem with WiFi because of the Internet of Things, phones, tablets, the works. What Leo recommends is Powerline Networking. It's gotten a lot better the last few years and being wired will always be better than WiFi. So check it out. TPLink makes some great PLN devices.
Paul wants to know more about Mesh Routers and Internet of Things, but is concerned about security. Leo says that if you stick to main brands like Eero and Netgear, they will keep their firmware updated for security purposes. Leo recommends the Eero. But you may have to pay a monthly security subscription, which Leo hates.
Travis wants to know how he can measure his bandwidth to see if he's getting what he's paying for. Leo says that Windows 10 has a bandwidth monitor built-in, but that will only measure what your machine is using. Modern routers also have bandwidth monitors, but if you've been given a router by your ISP, it likely won't. That's why Leo always recommends buying your own router. He recommends the Ubiquity Edge Router X. And you won't be paying a rental fee on that gear either.
Seth wants to know what the best consumer-grade WiFi routers are. Leo says it's constantly changing. And now, WiFi 6 (aka 802.11AX) is here. Designed to make IoT devices more efficient, WiFi 6 will certainly change up the game. Leo recommends the new MESH routers. They are more expensive, but they are much better for homes, especially those with spotty WiFi coverage. Leo also says that the older Eero Beacons can be used with Ethernet, so if users have their home wired for Ethernet, they can plug in for even better performance. The other alternative is Powerline networking.
Mike bought a used 2012 Mac Mini that he wants to turn into a media server. Will he be able to manage it locally, or does he have to do window sharing? Leo says that a Mac is kinda expensive for a media server, but it will do the job great with Apple's macOS Server software, which is $20 from the app store. He can also use PLEX for free. If he wants to access from the internet, he'll need to set up port forwarding. But if it's just from the network, it'll work as is. But there's a heat issue, so Leo says that he can use external hard drives to bring the heat down.
Tim's internet is terrible because he lives in a rural area. His router managed to give him decent speed, but it went bad. So his wireless ISP gave him another one and it's terrible. Leo says that Brainstorm is a WISP, or wireless internet service provider, and you're most likely required to use their dedicated hardware. But you may be able to use your own router. But Leo suspects the problem is on their end. Routers to look at are TPLINK. Asus. NetGear. Check out thewirecutter.com for their recommendations.