Wi-Fi routers, home servers, virtual private networks, and more.
Josh wants to know if he should buy all one brand of hard drives for his QNAP NAS or if he could mix them. Leo says that there's no problem with mixing drives, but he should make sure that the drive size is consistent, as most RAIDs will manage according to the smallest size. If he's buying it all at once, then it makes sense to buy the same drive, but if he's getting a great deal on different hard drives, then by all means, he should save the money.
David works with about ten other people in a small company, and they all share files using DropBox. They're getting conflicts, however with certain database files that they have stored on DropBox. Leo says if he has two programs accessing the same file at once, they will have problems. David wants to set up a VPN, and he was able to configure Hamachi. Leo says this won't fix the fundamental problem, though — it has to support record locking. David says that Microsoft Access supports locking, but it doesn't work with DropBox because people are accessing the file on their local systems.
Beth has a two story house and she has no problem streaming anything or using the internet, except on her laptop. Leo says that if her Roku is running HD, then she's getting decent bandwidth. Would a mesh router help? Leo says it may, but it's an expensive way to find out. Beth should run a speed test on her router to see how it goes. She should do it closer to her base station, and then again down into the lower floor and see if it improves or gets worse. That would tell her something. Leo says that since Beth is using Frontier, it could be her Frontier router. They're just terrible.
Andre has a few Nest devices connected to his router, and one is connected to a guest network. Is that more secure? Leo says no. While guest access doesn't have access to passwords, they do have access to his entire network. Nest is secure, though. Plume offers a great feature - internet-only access to a guest network.
Henry wants to extend his Wi-Fi upstairs. What extender should he use? Leo says he has a few options. Mesh routers are great because they have satellites that he can plug into each room, creating a wireless grid for his home. These usually come with a base station and a few extenders. They're a bit pricey, but they have the advantage of having full duplex communication, so the speed isn't cut as it's passing along the signal. They also have great security features, they're easy to maintain through the app, and they update automatically.
Jane had DSL Extreme, but she says that AT&T won't allow it over the phone lines anymore. Leo says there's something going on with her particular neighborhood. She's still getting phone service, though. Jane says that AT&T isn't offering DSL either, but they're trying to push UVerse. Leo says that AT&T has decided to eliminate copper in her neighborhood and start using fiber. Fiber is glass and works better than copper.
Jeff wants to know why his internet slows down at night. Leo says that he ends up sharing bandwidth with his neighborhood and if it's slowing down in the evening, it's because everyone is on Netflix. He also has to factor in Wi-Fi congestion. Jeff could bypass the Wi-Fi router and plug directly into the modem and see if it speeds up. If it does, then he'll know it's Wi-Fi congestion. If not, then he'll know it's his because of heavy use in the neighborhood.
Nichole is having problems getting a clear Wi-Fi signal in the back of her home. Leo says that's largely due to congestion. Everything from a mobile phone to a tablet, to even a microwave are using that 2.4 Ghz band, and so there's a lot of congestion. One way to fix that is to get a dual-band router. The 5.0 GHz band is a lot less congested, but it doesn't have as good of a range. So she can use it for some of her traffic, and use the longer range signal for the back of the house. Or she could use a mesh router.
Ed has a Google mesh router system and he wants to be able to get Wi-Fi out in his barn, which is 100' away. Can he get another mesh unit or should he do ethernet? Leo says that if he has a window, then he could put a mesh unit on the windowsill, and another in the window of a barn so they would have line-of-sight connectivity. It's certainly worth a try. Ed could also try powerline networking if the barn and his home are on the same junction. The other option is to use a Wi-Fi antenna.