Wi-Fi routers, home servers, virtual private networks, and more.
Peter wants to know if he can roll his own VPN using a NAS. Leo says he can create a VPN using any computer. It just needs a VPN server. OpenVPN is one such. WireGuard is the best choice. It's part of Linux already. But if he's thinking of doing it to work, make sure he has permission to do so.
Chuck wants to know if he can connect a USB drive to his router. Leo says the router has to support it. It's not really "plug and play." And if it does support it, it may be pretty slow. But it can be accessed from any computer on the network, so it's kinda like a cheap NAS. If the router is open-source compatible, then Leo recommends going with DD-WRT or Tomato for the firmware. They have NAS features that could be most helpful.
Vernon is thinking about upgrading to the new M1 Macbook Pro. But he would really like a desktop. Leo says to wait until the new M1 iMacs come out. No need to get another Intel machine at this point. Leo suspects that next Spring will bring a bevy of new desktops coming with not only the M1 chip but an even more powerful model with more RAM.
What about a NAS? Leo says you can take that old Desktop and convert it into a homebrew NAS using FreeNAS and multiple drives, but Leo says a five-bay Synology NAS is a better option.
Frederick wants to create a central location to house all the photos and videos for everyone in the family. Leo says if he wants to be responsible for it all, then Apple Photos can handle it. But everyone may want to keep their own accounts. Google Photos has similar features to Apple Photos, but it's cloud-based. And he can share unlimited free storage up until June 1st. Then each person can upload to a family album from their own account. Then everyone can upload and see the album. It's a great way to do it without having the burden just on the creator.
Jeff wants to know what's the best affordable Network Attached Storage (NAS). Leo says the cheapest is to take an old computer and run NAS software on it. But that requires a lot of work to maintain. Leo uses a Synology multi-bay NAS with several spinning drives in a RAID configuration. And Synology lets users mix and match, so they can mix several larger and smaller drives. Should he use SSD drives instead? Leo says no. That would cost more than it's worth.
Rich has a room about 35 feet away from the base station, and they have issues with dropouts from it. Leo says that WiFi is a line of sight technology, primarily, and so anything that goes in between the access point and the device can interfere. One way to solve the problem is to put your access point higher up the wall. That will move the signal away from a lot of things that will get in the way.
Daisy is having trouble with slow internet. Leo says to run SpeedTest by google and see how fast your connection is. There's also Fast, which is a connection test for NetFlix. Also, make sure you're not too far away from your router. If you're more than 100 feet away, that's going to slow things down. Also, too many walls between your router and your laptop can cause issues.
Richard's old 2008 Mac will knock other devices off the network when he downloads something with it. Leo says to make sure each device has its own IP address.
Michael's apartment WiFi network security is wide open, with logins based on the apartment numbers and the office phone number as the password. And they won't allow him to change his password. The best solution is to lobby the apartment management to allow him to change the login password.
Eric is a long time listener, and he needs a better WiFi connection to reach a trailer about 200 feet away. Leo says that WiFi has a 150-foot range. But he can boost the signal. Check out RadioLabs.com for a directional antenna that can then direct the WiFi to them. That kind of antenna can expand the range by a mile.