Wi-Fi routers, home servers, virtual private networks, and more.
Albert bought a Linksys Velop Mesh Wi-Fi router, but it doesn't work with his Chromecast when trying to cast something from his Chrome browser on the desktop. His mobile devices do work, however. His Chromecast can get it on the network, but he can't see it from his desktop browser. Leo doesn't think there's a particular problem with the Velop and the Chromecast. If the computer and the Chromecast are on the same network, he should be able to cast to it.
David has multiple TVs and computers and would like to link them all together with a switch. Should it be managed or unmanaged? Leo says that networking is a high end technical topic. A router manages the traffic and routes it through to the proper device. Routers use QOS or "quality of service" to do it. A switch is still needed, though, and it reduces traffic. A managed switch would allow him to run protocols and control the network properly. Most people don't need a managed switch.
Bob wants to buy a Synology NAS and discovered that it doesn't come with hard drives. Leo says that's correct. That way he can put in the right hard drive for his needs. If he's going to stream a lot of video, he'll want a faster hard drive. It isn't a cheap NAS.
Paul's daughter has a really old router and it's starting to flake out, so it's time to get a new one. Leo says she should get a dual band router that supports not only 2.4 Ghz, but also 5Ghz. She'll want one that supports 802.11ac. The reason to get a dual band router is that everyone is on 2.4 these days, and while 5 GHz is limited and won't go through walls, it is barely used.
Bill is a retired electrician and wants to learn networking and computers. Leo says it depends on how he best learns. There's a ton of great books, but ITPro.TV has a great video course on networking and IT subjects. Another good site is PracticallyNetworked.com. There's great tutorials there on networking.
(Disclaimer: ITPro.TV is a sponsor)
Isaac is a cop and wants to know if routers collect data of what connects to it or sees it. Leo says only if the device was connected to that router. Just seeing it is another matter, and that's unlikely. Android has an app called WiFi Collector from NirSoft, but that's the opposite direction from what Isaak wants. Leo says that the WiFi Pineapple from HakShop could work for this.
Susan is having trouble streaming with her Blu-ray player and her TV. Leo says it could be that the Blu-ray's Wi-Fi isn't working too well. She may need to move her hotspot closer to the TV itself. It may also be that there's congestion on the 2.4 Ghz band, and her TV won't pick up the 5.0 Ghz band. She should try using her mobile phone as a hotspot and see if it picks it up. If it does, then the Wi-Fi spot is either too far away or is congested and swamped by other signals.
What's going on with AirPort development? Leo says that Apple has reassigned most of the engineers who handle the Airport to other products, so it sounds like Apple is moving away from it. Since routers do wear out and become unreliable over time, it's probably time to replace it with a different brand.
Gloria wants to cut her phone service and use Ooma. Is that a good idea? Leo says that with one computer plugged into the internet, she can, but she'll also need a router so she can give access to others. A simple wireless router from Asus or DLink would work well. She should go for the dual band or tri band router. The WireCutter suggests the TP-Link Archer C7 (v2). She can find out more about it at thewirecutter.com.