Networking

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

How can I improve cellular data reception on my property?

Larry from Irvine, CA

Episode 1180

Larry is having issues on his property where he gets 3G in some areas, and 4G in others. Leo says he's on the edge of both. Will an antenna or amplifier help? Leo says that a cellphone amplifier could help. The benefit being that it becomes a Wi-Fi access point for up to 5 different devices. He can also set up an ad-hoc network with his laptop wired in. A directional antenna aimed at the cell tower will also be beneficial. He should watch his signal as he aims the antenna, and when the signal improves, he'll know where to have it pointed.

How can I get better Wi-Fi signal in my house?

David from Murrieta, CA

Episode 1178

David is having issues with his Wi-Fi upstairs. Leo says that if he's using the router from his ISP's modem, he should turn off Wi-Fi and get his own router. That often will solve the problem. He should make sure he has a DOCSIS 3 modem as well. In fact, while he's at it, he should just buy a modem as well. That way he will save the monthly rental fee he's paying his ISP for that modem.

Is my cable router safer than my own router?

Steve from Redondo Beach, CA

Episode 1177

Steve has his own Wi-Fi router but his cable company just gave him a new router with Wi-Fi built in. Is it more secure? Leo says they're about the same security wise. He'll want to be sure to turn on WPA2 password protection. And often routers have security flaws and rarely get updated. So Steve should make sure he has his router firmware updated.

How can I connect my SkyBell via Wi-Fi?

Episode 1177

Ed from San Diego, CA
SkyBell

Ed has the Skybell, a webcam door knock that allows users to see who's at the door from their smartphone via Wi-Fi. But he can't get it to work. Leo says that's because it has to connect via Wi-Fi, and he has to be sure it's connected to his network. He'll also have to have a 2.4 GHz system, and that's the most crowded spectrum because everyone else is on 2.4Ghz. If he can use 5 GHz, that would be better.

How can I extend the range of my Wi-Fi signal?

Chuck from San Diego, CA

Episode 1177

Chuck's home based business has grown to the point that he has to move it into his garage. But his Wi-Fi is spotty in there since it's 150 feet away. How can he push the range of his Wi-Fi router? Leo says that Chuck is at the edge of the usable signal range. He'll need a repeater and keep it line of sight from the router. Metal is death to Wi-Fi, as it acts as a Faraday cage. So Chuck should remove any window screens. Leo also recommends using a Wi-Fi analyzer to see what congestion is happening in Chuck's area.

How can I create a network in an RV?

Episode 1176

Jeff from Burbank, CA
Apple Airport Express

Jeff has a client who's going to be doing a great American roadtrip with RVs and they want to bring all their tech. They need to sync it all, and Jeff wants to know how they can do that while on the road? Leo says that the Airport Express is a Wi-Fi access spot and it will be a router if he plugs it into the internet primarily. Jeff can create an Ad-Hoc network without Internet access as well.

Do I need firewalls if I have a router?

Joe from Canton, OH

Episode 1175

Joe just got a router and wants to know if he really needs firewalls anymore. Leo says no. Joe could turn on the Windows firewall, but any third party firewall isn't really needed because the router is essentially a "dumb box" that prevents attacks from incoming traffic.

Routers, though, aren't impervious to attack, so he'll need to keep the firmware up to date, or even use a third party firmware like Tomato or DDWRT.

Why am I having problems streaming in 4K over Wi-Fi?

Mike from Bakersfield, CA

Episode 1175

Mike has a 4K TV streaming through Netflix. But when he connects his laptop to the network, the streams rarely will load at all. Leo says that sending data through the air via Wi-Fi is fast, but he's putting a ton of data through it. Leo says the more distance he has, the lesser the signal. Interference can cause issues, especially in congested areas. 2.4 Ghz is better for longer distances, but it's crowded. 5GHz likely uncrowded, but it may not travel as far through the walls.

How can I get a better signal to my Roku box?

Episode 1172

Archie from Hawthorne, CA
Roku

Archie has a Wi-Fi router and has connected his Roku, but he's not getting good enough reception and it buffers a lot. Leo says the farther the router is from the Roku, the less connection can be made. But Leo also suspects that the router isn't giving Archie as much bandwidth as he needs. It could be due to congestion.

If his router supports the 5 GHz band, it's a much better choice for streaming. He can also take the old router and put it in bridge mode and use it as a repeater to pass along the signal.