Category Archives: Network Tips

Untangling the mesh: Everything you need to know about Wi-Fi systems

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You want to have Wi-Fi in every corner of your home, so you bought a top-tier router. But you have found that a large part of the house still has no signal at all. What gives?

Why ‘traditional’ routers often disappoint

A powerful router’s Wi-Fi signal can be strong enough to cover approximately a 3,000-square-foot home, but only if it’s placed right in the middle of the house. This is because the signal spreads out equally from the router’s location. Most people, however, place the router where the service line (DSL, cable and so on) comes in, which is usually in one corner of the house. In the end, half of the router’s Wi-Fi coverage is actually outside of the house, leaving the farthest part of the home uncovered.

Home Wi-Fi systems such as Google Wifi, Netgear Orbi, Eero, Amped Wireless Ally Plus, and Portal — also known as home mesh networks — are designed to solve this problem. Instead of just one router, they come in two, three or even more units, allowing you to blanket your home with Wi-Fi.

But Wi-Fi systems aren’t perfect. Before you invest in one, consider these pros and cons.

Popular Wi-Fi systems

US price (per set units) Web interface Vendor connected Signal loss Features Protection against malware
Almond 3 $400 (3) Yes Yes Yes Limited No
Amped Wireless Ally Plus $300 (2) Yes Optional Yes Full feature Yes
Eero $500 (3) No Yes Yes Limited No
Google Wifi $330 (3) No Yes Yes Limited No
Linksys Velop $500 (3) No Yes Minor Limited No
Luma $400 (3) No Yes Yes Limited Yes
Netgear Orbi $400 (2) Yes Optional No Full feature No
Portal $319 (2) Yes No Yes Extremely limited No

Why Wi-Fi systems work

These are the benefits you can expect from a Wi-Fi system.

Custom Wi-Fi coverage

Not only will you get expanded coverage with a Wi-Fi system, you can also tailor the Wi-Fi signal according to the shape of your home by placing the extra units where they’re needed.

Generally, each unit can be placed as far as 30 to 50 feet from the last (one or two rooms apart). So if you have one long property, a set of three hardware units in a daisy-chain setup will deliver signal from one end to another. And with most Wi-Fi systems, you can expand your coverage by buying and adding more units.

They’re easy to use

If you can use a smartphone and have plugged something into a wall socket before, you then can set up a Wi-Fi system.

All Wi-Fi systems are dead-simple to use — at least those I’ve worked with, anyway. Usually, you can use your phone — not a clunky web interface — to set up the first unit and connect it to an internet source like your broadband modem. After that, all you have to do is place the rest of the units around the house and plug them into power outlets. And that’s it.

They’re frequently updated

Most Wi-Fi systems are managed by vendors and get regular software update to improve their performance, features and security. Even those that are not connected to a vendor also get automatic firmware updates to address any issues that might arise. So getting a Wi-Fi system means you won’t need to worry whether your home network is up to date with regard to security or updating (commonly known as “flashing”) the firmware yourself. And at times, you might even get a pleasant surprise when a new feature is added or the performance is suddenly greatly improved.

Built-in protection

Like many single routers, more and more Wi-Fi systems are now available with built-in protection for the entire home network against malware and online threats. This is a great feature to have if you have a lot of IoT devices — such as appliances, IP camera, printers and so on — at home that you can’t run security software on. Keep in mind that even with this feature, you still need to take precaution by changing the default password of each IoT device.


The caveats

There are a few concerns that one might have about using a Wi-Fi system. They are not necessarily applicable to every system, and I will explain how to mitigate or eliminate each one, when possible.

They’re expensive

Wi-Fi systems are generally expensive. Currently, the most affordable option I’d recommend is Google Wifi, which is still pricey at $300 for a set of three units.

What you’re paying for here is convenience — not higher-tier Wi-Fi. Google Wifi, like many other Wi-Fi systems, uses a relatively low-tier Wi-Fi standard oftentimes being AC1200, which is a dual-band, dual-stream (2 x 2) system that has top the speed of 867 megabit per second on the 5GHz band and 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. In short, it’s quite low on the performance chart and generally used by routers in the $50 range. So, if you know how to link three routers together manually, a mesh network-like setup will only cost you $150. However, in this case, it will take a lot more effort. So yes, with Wi-Fi systems, you pay for the convenience and ease of use.

Privacy risks

This doesn’t apply to all Wi-Fi systems, but many of them are required to be connected to the vendor at all times to function properly. In fact, you can’t even manage your home network without logging in to an account with the vendor first. Examples of systems that require this are Google Wifi, the Eero and the Plume. Some of those that don’t are the Netgear Orbi or the Portal.

Keep in mind that most other home routers don’t need to connect to vendors to work. Having your home network connected to the vendor at all times means the vendor potentially could be monitoring all that’s going on in your network, including internet traffic. All vendors say that they don’t collect user’s activities as websites you visit and so on. But no vendor can give absolute assurance that they won’t be hacked, either.

That said, for vendor-connected Wi-Fi systems, make your choice based on how much you trust the vendor.

Slow Wi-Fi speed

This is mainly due to two reasons, signal loss and signal degradation.

Signal loss is phenomenon that takes place when a Wi-Fi signal is extended wirelessly. In this case the signal hops from the main router unit to a satellite unit. This secondary unit will then have to do two jobs at once: receive the Wi-Fi signal from the original router and then rebroadcast it. And when the device uses the same band for these two jobs, it loses 50 percent efficiency, meaning devices connected to the main router unit will have double the real-world speed compared to those connected to a second satellite unit.

If you use three units and daisy-chain them sequentially to extend the signal farther in one direction, devices connected to the third unit will further suffer in speed — up to four times slower than those connected to the main router. The more units you use farther from the main one, the more the speed will degrade. A few Wi-Fi systems on the market don’t suffer from this phenomenon, however, like the Netgear Orbi or the Linksys Velop and more are coming soon, which don’t have signal loss if you use no more than two units.

But all systems suffer from signal degradation, which happens when you place the satellite unit more than 20 or 30 feet away from the main router unit. This happens because Wi-Fi signal generally gets worse the farther away from the broadcaster.

This makes it tricky to use a Wi-Fi system; if you place a satellite unit close to the main router unit to maintain the speed, it doesn’t help much with the range. But if you place it too far, the range is great but there’s not much signal from the original broadcaster to extend, so the real-world speed will suffer.

Most systems help users find out where it’s best to place the satellite units via the mobile app, but they tend to favor range over speed. To find the best balance, you’ll need to test the speed of your local Wi-Fi network during the setup process.

That said, unless you’re having weekly LAN parties, frequently transferring files between computers in your home, or you have a Gigabit-class internet connection, the signal loss and degradation won’t matter much since Wi-Fi is so much faster than most residential broadband connections anyway. Generally, if your internet speed is 200Mbps or less, chances are a Wi-Fi system (with no more than three units) can still deliver it in full most of the time. But if you have faster internet speed or need a fast local wireless network, a Wi-Fi system generally won’t cut it.

To mitigate the speed problem you can try placing the satellite units around the first router unit. And to eliminate it completely, connect the units using network cables. But if you choose this option, you’d lose the convenience factor.

Signal handoff

When you use multiple broadcasters, a connected mobile device like an iPad is supposed to automatically and seamlessly move from one to another as you move it around the house. This is called signal handoff. If you have a Wi-Fi system with excellent signal handoff, you will experience no disconnection when this transition takes place. But a system with bad handoff will cause interruption for applications that require a constant connection such as Wi-Fi calling or online games, when you’re moving around the house.

Lack of features and settings. Also: Not future-proof

All Wi-Fi systems I’ve reviewed, except for the Netgear Orbi, have a very limited number of features and settings that let you customize your network. Most of the time, Wi-Fi systems have just one or two features — mostly for prioritizing connections and parental controls — and that’s it. If you’re used to deep customization of your network, or like to have a web interface — the way things are with traditional routers — you’ll find most Wi-Fi systems very lacking. On top of that, most systems have just one LAN port on one each unit, so if you want to hook up wired devices (like servers or desktop computers) you will definitely need to resort to switches.

What’s more important is, once you’ve gone with a Wi-Fi system, you’re stuck with it. There’s no easy way to upgrade the hardware of such a system. So, if at some point you’re no longer happy with either your Wi-Fi speed or the feature set, you’ll need a new system entirely.


The alternative

Wi-Fi systems are here to stay. This is because they are set to solve the biggest problem in home Wi-Fi: coverage. That said, it’s expected that you will soon have even more options that might have better performance and more features — and the cost might go down, too.

One thing for sure, though: The best alternative to Wi-Fi systems is to run network cables to certain parts of your home. In this scenario, you have one main router, with all the features you want, and more access points (or routers in access point mode) around the house that connect to it via network cables. That’s the best way to have both fast performance and the most features at the lowest cost. Obviously, this tends to require a lot of work or even a major remodeling of your home.

Is It Better to Use a Wi-Fi Channel With a Higher Frequency?

Is It Better to Use a Wi-Fi Channel With a Higher Frequency?

When you have experienced problems with your wireless router, then you might start tweaking the settings in order to improve performance, like choosing a different channel. But are some channels inherently better than others? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post has the answer to a curious reader’s question.

The Question

One reader from our site wants to know if it is better to use a Wi-Fi channel with a higher frequency:

Today I had to call tech support to have my Wi-Fi channel changed because it was using channel 7, but the guy on the phone told me that channel 1 was “less powerful” than channel 11. He suggested that I use channel 11.

Using a Wi-Fi analyzer app, I discovered that channel 1 is the least used one in my building, so I ignored his recommendation and asked for channel 1. Was he right? Is channel 11 better?

Is it better to use a Wi-Fi channel with a higher frequency?

The Answer

SuperUser contributor Mokubai has the answer for us:

Channel numbers do not denote power “levels”, so channel 11 is not “better” than channel 1 simply because it is ten digits higher. Wi-Fi does have overlapping channels though, which means that devices do not “want” to be on a channel that is too close to another nearby station’s channel.

For the best results and interoperability (least interference), there are only three channel choices: channel 1, channel 6, and channel 11. Here is an image showing why:

Is It Better to Use a Wi-Fi Channel With a Higher Frequency?

If there are many networks near your location, then you want to choose the channel which has the fewest or weakest signals. If, as you mention, that happens to be channel 1, then that is the channel you should use.

How To Fix an Android TV Box Bad or Broken WiFi Signal

How To Fix a Android TV Box Bad or Broken WiFi Signal

Like all electronics,  Android TV boxes can have problems with the internal built-in WiFi at any time.

To run a Ethernet cable to the unit and bypass the wireless altogether is the answer to the problem.

Surely, for many this is not a option and having cables run across floors is not a good look for a home, and a possible tripping hazed. There are some options for fixing a bad or broken WiFi signal without having to take the unit apart.

There are few different devices that connect up to a Ethernet port and than transmit over wireless or a homes internal electrical wiring.

Here we will look at these type of devices and see if one will help fix any bad WiFi issues you may have.

Power Line Adapters

How To Fix a Android TV Box Bad or Broken WiFi Signal

While PLC (Power Line Communication) does not transfer wireless, but it does communicate very well over a homes electrical wires.

This means that it will transmit to another PLC after plugging it into a AC outlet.

How To Fix a Android TV Box Bad or Broken WiFi Signal

While it may be hard to get a Ethernet cable to a media box, most will have a electrical outlet within reach that can be used.

PLC adapters can also be better than WiFi in some environments that wireless has problems in.

How To Fix a Android TV Box Bad or Broken WiFi Signal

ZyXEL Pass-Thru is one such PLC adapter that extends a Ethernet connection through a homes electrical wiring.

Two units come with a kit with one plugged into the router and the other the android TV box.

ZyXEL Pass is a popular option that connects to a router with one PLC and than connects to another PLC at the box.

How To Fix a Android TV Box Bad or Broken WiFi Signal

After it is plugged into a wall outlet data is than transmitted to the router over the electrical wiring.

The setup is really easy basically Plug-and-Play and can be a big improvement over wireless.

The new Powerline AV2 or HomePlug AV2 can move data at Gigabyte speeds. They can also have up to 16 devices connected so they are not limited to a single android TV box.

How To Fix a Android TV Box Bad or Broken WiFi Signal

Ethernet to WiFi Adapter

There are several devices that can hook to a Ethernet port and than transmit wireless to a router.

If a Power Line adapter is not for you than a a Ethernet-to-wireless unit is the next best option.

IOGEAR makes the GWU627 that plugs into a box via Ethernet.

How To Fix a Android TV Box Bad or Broken WiFi Signal

The unit simply plugs into the Ethernet port on a android box which than transmits wirelessly to a router.

IOGREAR has a easy setup using a WPS button.

Summary
The above are a two ways to improve a bad wireless signal to a android TV box. Other options could be a wireless signal extender or booster.

If you can not get a good wireless signal a power-line adapter would be a better option since there is no wireless signal.

Powerline has come a long way since its early days and able to move data extremely fast at Gigabyte speeds. This gives it s huge leap over WiFi since it is fast and is not prone to interference like WiFi can be.

As always be sure to read the reviews on Amazon or elsewhere to be sure a unit is a good fit for you.

Do you have a good method for improving a signal to your android TV box? Let us know in the comments below.

How to Wirelessly Restart Reboot a Router

How to Wirelessly Restart Reboot a Router

It takes you a few days to restart a router wirelessly and depend on your setup and router.

The two main ways are to use a smartphone / computer or setup a remote switch.

It all depends on what type of setup you need as to the best way, so lets look at the two most common methods.

Using a Smartphone or Computer
Every router has a reboot tab in the software setting that simply requires logging in and clicking reboot.

How to Wirelessly Restart Reboot a Router


Each router also has a unique setup menu so looking through the setting or Googling the tab will be necessary.

To get to the login page a Browser is used, on a computer, tablet, or smartphone, and the internal IP Address is typed into the address bar.

To log into the router the Internal IP address is needed along with the username and password.

How to Wirelessly Restart Reboot a Router


In this example internal IP address for the router is “192.168.1.1” and the Username: Admin, Password: Admin.

There is always a default username and password which is often labeled on a router, or it can be looked up online by the name and model number.

The only time it is not default is if it has been changed during setup.

Using a Remote Switch

How to Wirelessly Restart Reboot a Router
Remote switches are low cost items that come in a variety of packages that can power off and on and device wirelessly.


They are simple devices that plug into a outlet and after a electronic device is plugged in can be controlled with a wireless remote or app.

Remote switch with remote control on Amazon

How to Wirelessly Restart Reboot a Router

 


Many use a wireless switches since they cheap, simple, and are effective in getting the job done.

Besides a remote control units there is also smartphone models that use Bluetooth or connect to your wireless network and can be used anywhere.

The Bluetooth units are cheaper than WiFi units, but only can work with-in 10-15 feet range, while a WiFi switch can work anywhere your phone is online.

It all depend on your setup as to which is the best. If you are close to the router and need to reset it occasionally than a Bluetooth unit would be fine. If any distance is needed than a WiFi model would be better.

WiFi Remote Switch on Amazon

WiFi Remote Switch on Amazon


Summary
The above methods are the two most common but there are other options in some cases.

For example your router manufacture may have built-in a remote reboot feature into the router and already have a app that simply needs to be downloaded. This is not common but some higher-end routers have this feature.

There are some mods for some routers such as DD-WRT and Tomato that can give them much more functionality including remote login via SHH, Telnet, or VPN.

If you know exactly when a router needs to be restarted some have the option to setup a restart scheduled in settings.

There is no doubt more ways to reset a router without having to physically press the button.

MIT researchers have found a way to transfer wireless data using a smartphone at a speed about three times faster

Multiple independent transmitters will be able to send data over the same wireless channel to multiple independent receivers without interfering with each other.The researchers developed a technique to coordinate multiple wireless transmitters by synchronizing their wave phases, according to a statement from MIT on Tuesday.

Since wireless spectrum is scarce, and network congestion is only expected to grow, the technology could have important implications.

The researchers called the approach MegaMIMO 2.0 (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) .

MIT researchers have found a way to transfer wireless data using a smartphone at a speed about three times faster and twice as far as existing technology.

For their experiments, the researchers set up four laptops in a conference room setting, allowing signals to roam over 802.11 a/g/n Wi-Fi. The speed and distance improvement is expected to also apply to cellular networks. A video describes the technology as well as a technical paper (registration required), which was presented this week to the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Data Communications (SIGCOMM 16).

The researchers, from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, are: Ezzeldin Hamed, Hariharan Rahul, Mohammed Abdelghany and Dina Katabi.

Top TipsFor You to fix BT DNS issues using Google DNS

android_dns_0

When the system goes down, your computer can no longer look up the address it’s supposed to be connecting to, making it look as though the entire internet is down. Thankfully  you can use the free Google DNS servers, which are much more stable than the ones used by many broadband suppliers. There are other free DNS servers you might want to use, instead. Read our guide on how to find a better DNS server.Millions of people across the UK lose their internet access when BT’s DNS servers go down, which they often seem to do. DNS servers, otherwise known as Domain Name System servers, take easily remembered web addresses and translate them to the numerical IP addresses that computers understand, helping you get around the web easily.

To avoid unwanted DNS issues in the future, we’ve put together a complete guide on how to change your DNS servers, either through your home Wi-Fi router, on each device in the house, or through a NAS device.

Using static IP addresses

That’s no good for some devices, so to follow this article, you may need to configure some to use a static address, setting it manually. We’ll explain how, but before you do anything else you need to find out how to find out a safe address by connecting to your router.

All wireless routers have built-in DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) servers. When a new device connects to them, they automatically dish out IP addresses and DNS server information. This is handy, as it saves a lot of time and effort, making networking easy. However, using this method, devices only lease an address; when the lease is up, they may end up using a new, different address.

Every router manufacturer does things slightly differently, but our directions should make sense regardless of which router you’re using. First off, open the configuration page: this is typically done by typing http://192.168.0.1 or http://192.168.1.1 into your web browser, but if you aren’t sure you can find out by typing “ipconfig” into a Windows command prompt, or “route -n” in a Mac Terminal Window. In both cases, the default gateway address is the IP address of your router, which you should enter into your browser’s address bar. Enter your username and password to login.

Look for the DHCP server settings. These will tell you the range of addresses the router gives out, which will include a start address and an end address. For the BT Home Hub 5, for example, it gives out addresses between 192.168.1.64 and 192.168.1.253. What you need to do, for devices that require it, is to use an IP address outside of this range; if you don’t, you may end up with two devices using the same address, which isn’t allowed and will cause problems.

To work out a safe IP address, you have to keep the first three numbers of range of addresses the same, such as 192.168.1, and then change the last number, so that it doesn’t clash with the router’s range. The only rules are that this number must be between 1 and 254, and don’t pick the same address that your router has. In the BT Home Hub 5 example, then, given the router has an IP address of 192.168.1.1 and the range is quoted as above, anything between 192.168.1.2 and 192.168.1.63 is fine.

Change DNS on Router

Most routers should let you alter the default DNS server addresses through their configuration page. This will affect every device that uses it to connect to the internet, making it the easiest way to change DNS servers if you have more than one internet-enabled device in the home. Unfortunately for BT Broadband customers, this isn’t possible on a BT Home Hub, meaning you’ll have to look further down the page for our on-device DNS settings guide. Connect to your router’s web-based management page and log in. Look for the section that contains your router’s internet (WAN) address, and you should be able to override the DNS server setting. Enter in the Google DNS server addresses, which are 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4.

Once you’ve changed this setting, all of your devices will start to use the new DNS servers, so you won’t be affected next time BT (or any other ISP) has server problems.

Change on Device (BT Customers)

If you’re a BT Broadband customer, don’t have access to your router’s configuration page or your router doesn’t let you change the DNS servers, you can manually change DNS servers on each internet-connected device. It takes a little more time and effort, but by the end you’ll be able to get online without worrying whether your broadband provider’s DNS servers are up and running. At the least, it may be worth changing one device in your home, so that you can check if an internet error is due to a DNS problem or because your entire internet connection has gone down.

Windows

If you have a Windows laptop or desktop computer, you’ll need to open the Control Panel. Windows 8 users can hit the Windows key and type Control Panel, while older versions of Windows have a Control Panel shortcut in the Start Menu. From here, click Network and Sharing Center, then Change adapter settings on the left side of the window that opens. Next, right-click the connection you use to get online and select Properties. We’ve used Wi-Fi, but if you use a cable click Ethernet instead.

You should see a list under the heading ‘This connection uses the following items:’. Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and click Properties. In the new window that opens, change the radio button from ‘obtain DNS server address automatically’ to ‘Use the following DNS addresses’. Enter the Google DNS servers (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4) and hit OK. Click Close on the previous window and you’re done.

Mac

If you’re using an iMac desktop or MacBook laptop, simply click on the System Preferences icon in the Dock then click on Network in the window that appears. Make sure the active network interface is selected (in our case it was Ethernet, but if you’re connected over wireless make sure to choose Wi-Fi) then click Advanced… in the bottom right corner of the window.

From here, select the DNS tab and hit the + icon at the bottom left of the window. Add the Google DNS server addresses (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4) then hit OK to save your changes. Click Apply and you’re done.

iOS
ios_7.1_dns_0

For Apple mobile devices you need to be connected to your home Wi-Fi network. Go to Settings, Wi-Fi and then tap the ‘i’ next to the network you’re currently connect to. Go down to DNS and tap the field to edit the information that’s listed. Enter, ‘8.8.8.8, 8.8.4.4’ (including the comma, excluding the quote marks). Tap Wi-Fi at the top of the settings page to go back and apply the settings.

Android
android_dns_0

For smartphones and tablets running Google’s mobile operating system, jump into the Settings menu and head for Wi-Fi. Make sure you’re connected to your local Wi-Fi network, then press and hold on its network ID to bring up a text box. Select the second option (Modify network config) and tick the ‘show advanced settings’ checkbox in the new window that appears. Now change the IP Settings dropdown box from ‘DHCP’ to ‘Static’. Enter a safe static IP address, as described at the start of this article.

You’ll then need to scroll down the page until you see two text boxes labelled DNS 1 and DNS 2. Put the two Google DNS server addresses (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4) in these boxes and hit save to finish.

Change with DHCP on a NAS

If your router won’t let you change DNS addresses, but you don’t want the hassle of changing every single device on your network, you might be able to save some time using your NAS drive. Many models can take over from a router, handing out IP addresses to your connected devices and controlling, therefore, which DNS servers are used. We’ve used a Synology DiskStation in our example, but some other NAS devices have similar options. First off, open the NAS interface by typing its web address into your web browser, then logging in using your administrator or user account information. First, your NAS has to have a static IP address, so go to Control Panel, Network, Network Interface, click LAN and select Edit. Click IPv4 and select Use manual configuration, then enter a safe static IP address, as discovered at the start of this article. Enter the subnet mask as 255.255.255.0. Click OK and you may have to reconnect to your NAS using the new IP address you gave it.

Once you’re back in the management console the instructions differ depending on the version of the Synology NAS you’re running. Only devices that have DSM 4.2 or higher installed (roughly 2009 and onwards) can run the DHCP server. For DSM 4.X devices, you have to install the DHCP server package using package manager, then you run it from the Menu; DSM 5.x devices shouldn’t need the package installing: the settings are in Control Panel, Network, Network interface, then click your LAN adaptor and click Edit, then click the DHCP server tap. Note, you can’t use the DHCP server if it has more than one network adaptor and it’s in Bridge mode. Both the DSM 4.X and 5.X versions have the same settings once you’re in them.

Select Enable DHCP server, then enter the Primary DNS as 8.8.8.8 and the Secondary DNS as 8.8.4.4. Click the Add button, then under Start IP address enter the same start address as used by your router (see the top of this article for more information), and the end IP address as your router’s end address. Enter the Netmask as 255.255.255.0 and the Gateway as your router’s IP address. Click the Enabled tick box and click OK.

Now, connect to your router’s web-based management page and find the DHCP server settings (for the Home Hub they’re in Advanced Settings, IP Addresses) and disable the DHCP server. Apply your settings and all new devices that connect to your network will have new DNS and IP address settings as dished out by your NAS. Devices currently on the network may have to be rebooted or have their power cycled to pick up their new addresses.

3 Settings Tips of BT Home Hub – how to get more speed and make it less annoying

bt_home_hub

As good as it is, the router isn’t as quick as it could be and some of the default settings are either wrong or a little annoying. In this guide we’ll show you how to improve your router and change its advanced settings.

The BT Home Hub 5 is one of the fastest routers that we’ve tested, which is all the more impressive given that it’s the standard router shipped with BT internet accounts.
And if you’ve got the new BT Smart Hub instead, then we’ve got you covered too, head over to our BT Smart Hub settings guide now.

Connect to the web interface
bt_home_hub_5_smart_setup_0

From any computer that’s connected to the router (via wireless or Ethernet), fire up a web browser and enter http://192.168.1.254 into the address bar. This will take you to the router’s status page. Your first job is to connect to the router’s web-based configuration page. To change any settings you have to click on Settings or Advanced Settings in the menu bar. You’ll be prompted to enter a password. If you haven’t changed the default password, you can find it written on the pull-out card at the back of the Home Hub 5.

Fix the wireless settings

bt_home_hub_5_storage_0
The first job is to fix the wireless settings, as the default configuration isn’t very good. The problem is that BT has set both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks to use the same name, which means that you have no idea which one your devices are connecting to.

We’ve seen some people advising to only use the 2.4GHz network, as it’s faster, but this is poor advice and is not true. The BT Home Hub 5 uses the super-fast 802.11ac wireless standard, which only runs on the 5GHz radio band; the 2.4GHz band uses the older and slower 802.11n standard.

If you have 802.11ac devices, you need to connect them to the 5GHz network for the best speed. In addition, the 5GHz band can also be faster for non-802.11ac devices if you live in an area with a lot of Wi-Fi congestion: the 5GHz band suffers less interference at the expense of reduced range.

Our advice is to split the two networks apart and test them both, picking the network that works best for your devices. To do this, click on Advanced Settings, enter your password (if you haven’t already) and click on the Continue to Advanced Settings button.

Click on the 5GHz Wireless link and click No under ‘Sync with 2.4GHz’. Under Wireless SSID edit the name of the network: we find that it makes sense to add an _5GHz to the name, so it’s clear which network is which. You can leave all of the other settings alone and click OK to apply the settings.

If you’re suffering from slow wireless performance, you may need to change the channel and speed that the 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks run at. Read our guide to configuring wireless routers for the full information on how to do this.
Turn off Smart Setup and stop the router from being annoying

Smart Setup is a very annoying feature on this router. Every time you connect a new device to the Home Hub 5 and launch a web browser, the router redirects to a page that advertises all of the free stuff that you get with your broadband account. We’ve also found that it can stop some devices that don’t have a web browser, such as a home automation system, from connecting to the internet. To disable this feature go to Advanced Settings, Home Network, Smart Setup and change ‘Enable Smart Setup’ to No. Click Apply when you’re done.

Turn down the lights
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If your Home Hub 5 is on display and not in a cupboard, you may find that its lights are a little intrusive. To fix this, go to Settings, Hub Lights and change the setting to Low. Click Apply to change the settings.
Share a USB drive

If you want to share storage on your home network, just plug the device into the USB port on your Home Hub and it’s shared automatically on the network. If you can’t see it by browsing your network, you can connect manually. From Windows get up a Run command (Windows-R) and type \\192.168.1.254; using a Mac go to Finder, type Apple-K, enter smb://192.168.1.254 and click Connect. You don’t need a username or password.

To stop sharing a device go to Advanced Settings, Home Network, Devices and you’ll see your storage device listed under USB. Click the link and then select Safely disconnect: you can now unplug your USB storage device.

Tips For You To Choosing the Best Wireless Router

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A router is the magic box that lets you distribute your Internet connection to a variety of devices throughout your home, including desktop computers, laptops, smart phones, tablets, smart TV sets, and streaming media devices such as Apple TV, Roku, and Google Chromecast.

If you’re like many families these days, a typical evening at home might look something like this: you catching up on the latest made-for-Netflix series in the living room, one of your kids gaming upstairs, and your spouse uploading a vacation’s-worth of photos on Flickr in the kitchen.

Wireless also eliminates the clutter that cables brinAnd while wired Ethernet connections are typically faster and more secure, you’re better off with a wireless connection if you want to move around your home, using laptops and other mobile devices. g.

Here’s what you need to know to go shopping for a wireless router.

1.Love the One You’re With or . . .
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If your Internet service provider (ISP) is your cable company, then your router will plug into a cable modem, which provides your link to the Internet. For other services–such as Verizon FIOS–the router may be combined with a broadband modem in a single box that your provider supplies when you sign up.

Besides an obvious reason—say, your router is broken—you might also consider a new model for the following reasons:

1. You don’t want to continue to buy or rent a router from your service provider.

2. You already have a broadband modem directly connected to a single computer, but want to be able to go online with multiple devices.

3. Your router has only wired connectivity, but you want to go online with wireless devices, such as a laptop or tablet.

4. Your existing router is too slow or its wireless range is too short to reach important places in your home.

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2.Sip or Gulp: Types of Wireless Routers

The most basic decision you’ll need to make is whether to get a bigger or a smaller model, size being measured, in this case, by speed and range (also known as throughput).

Until recently, Consumer Reports tested and rated both 802.11n and 802.11ac routers. But falling prices for the latter have rendered the former all but obsolete. Routers using 802.11ac are significantly faster than those using 802.11n, especially at close range. The only reason to get 802.11n is if you are on a really tight budget and you can get one for a steal.

The size and layout of your home will also affect performance. Before you go shopping, you should do an assessment of your house or apartment: the overall size, the building materials used, and where the router will be located vis-a-vis your media.

Drywall, plaster, and hollow doors will interfere with your router’s performance; even uninsulated doors and floors can cause signal degradation. But the biggest offenders are aluminum studs (found in office buildings and modern apartments); insulated walls and floors; glass; and solid brick and stone. The more floors, walls, and windows of any kind in the way, the worse for the signal.

For more information on getting a stronger WiFi signal throughout the house, read this article.

3.Important Considerations

The Router Limits

 

A router with top speed won’t necessarily improve the streaming performance of Netflix and YouTube videos. Across any network, data only moves as fast as the slowest connection. In most cases, the slowest connection for Internet traffic is the one between your house and your Internet service provider.

Booster Club

You can sign up for a faster connection from your service provider if you like. Unless you pay for connection speeds in excess of 100mbps, you’re unlikely to run up against the performance capabilities of most routers.

Frequent Houseguests or AirBNB Host?
If so, use the guest network, which is available with all the routers we tested. It’s a second network that provides online access without you having to give guests your regular security password, giving them access to your primary network.

How Much Security Do You Need?
You should secure your router with a password using WPA2 encryption. You’ll normally need to enter the password into each wireless device you use just once; afterwards, the device will remember it. Security is especially important if you live in close proximity to others, such as in an apartment building or a crowded urban area.

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4.Features to Consider

LAN Ports

LAN ports are used to connect a computer to the router using an Ethernet cable.

USB Ports

USB ports on a router are used for connecting to a flash drive, external hard drive, or a USB printer if the router has a built-in print server.

Quality of Service (QoS)

Also called Media Prioritization or Traffic Control. If you’re the type who likes to play with your computer settings, you might appreciate the flexibility this feature offers. You can optimize the router’s performance depending on what you’re doing at a given time. For example, you can change the settings to work best for streaming videos, making Skype calls, playing games, or streaming music. It will give those applications more of the bandwidth so, for example, your Netflix movie doesn’t pause and rebuffer because someone in your house is downloading a large file.

Tips Help You to Extend a Mobile Hotspot with a Portable Router

How to Extend a Mobile Hotspot with a Portable Router

The overall speed and performance you get out of a mobile hotspot will ultimately depend on the model and make of your hotspot, but also how strongly covered your area is from the company that’s providing the connection.

Mobile hotspots are fantastic tools. These little gadgets grab onto networks, such as Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, and then send that signal out to all of our WiFi-enabled devices so we can have WiFi access virtually anywhere that those carriers have coverage.

However, no matter which hotspot or service provider you decide to go with, owning a mobile hotspot can be an extremely convenient little gadget to own. That is, when they work.Verizon and AT&T are the two biggest players here, but Sprint and T-Mobile have also been hard at work extending the range of their own networks.

Just like WiFi routers, the connection and signal strength of our mobile hotspots can often been considerably slower and weaker than we would like.

We want absolutely blazing fast speeds all the time, but in reality, we frequently face slowdowns and signals that don’t reach as far as we’d expect.

When we run into a situation like this, what can we do?

One possible option is to use a portable router to extend the range of your mobile hotspot.

What’s important to note here is that, when using a router to extend the range of your mobile hotspot connection, you want to make sure that it’s one of the portable variants.

Portable routers are just like the routers you have connected in your home or office, except for the fact that they’re battery powered and can be used anywhere.

Keep in mind that some of the wording may be specific to the brand of portable router you purchase, but the process will essentially be the same no matter what.

Step 1 – In your router menu, navigate over to the option that’s titled “Wireless”.

Step 2 – Click on the option called “Enable WDS Bridging” (Something important to keep in mind here is that not every router supports WDS/Bridging functionality. If that happens to be the case with your current router, you’ll need to purchase a different one.)

Step 3 – To display all of the connections that are within your range, select “Survey”.

Step 4 – After discovering the connection of your mobile hotspot, choose it.

Step 5 – Once chosen, enter the password for your mobile hotspot.

Step 6 – After your password has been entered, click the “Save” button. From here, you’ll see a messaging prompting you to select which channel you would like to use. At this point, click the option that says “Yes”. This will automatically select the proper channel you’ll want to use.

Step 7 – Following that, disable DHCP and then restart your portable router.

Step 8 – Boot up your portable router. Don’t worry if it takes a while to get going or doesn’t connect right away during this initial boot. You may need to restart it once more or possibly have to upgrade your router’s firmware to make sure everything’s working the way it should.

With all of these steps completed, you should now be able to further extend the range of your mobile hotspot. Keep in mind that, just like your hotspot, your portable router will also need to be charged every now and then. The TP-LINK model we mentioned in this article reported gets around 2 ½ to 3 hours of battery life on a single charge, so if you plan to use this thing for hours on end, you’ll want to make sure you keep a spare charger close by.

While that’s the primary way of extending the range of your mobile hotspot, there are a couple other ways to achieve this as well. While portable routers are great for extending the range of mobile hotspots that already have WiFi functionality built-in to them, they can also be great tools if you own a USB hotspot/modem. If you use one of these USB dongles for an Internet connection on your laptop or desktop, simply plug into the USB port of the portable hotspot and you’ll have a portable WiFi router on your hands! This can be great if you’ve been looking into upgrading your hotspot to one that supports WiFi, but you don’t necessarily want to throw down a lot of dough that would be required for said upgrade.

As we talked about in the beginning of this article, mobile hotspots are phenomenal tools. The ability to carry around a little gadget that sends off high-speed LTE signals wherever we may be is simply wondrous. However, we also get that it can be quite frustrating when these gadgets don’t work the way we expect them to. Thanks to the tips we talked about in today’s article, you now have ways to solve these problems when they arise. Portable routers are incredibly powerful, yet very underrated tools. And in the scenario we talked about today, they can be your best friend when you want to get some extra strength out of your mobile hotspot.