Just about anyone can tell you that sharing your WiFi with people you don’t trust is a bad idea. Besides being able to access the devices on your network without your knowledge, someone unscrupulous could use your internet connection to perform illegal acts such as piracy. As such, it can be unsettling to find out when companies share your WiFi network without your knowledge – and that’s just what Amazon has done with one of its newer features for Alexa-enabled Echo devices and certain Ring camera products. Amazon Sidewalk is a feature that, in the event of an internet outage at a neighbor’s house, allows their Amazon products to tap into the connections of other Amazon devices in your or any other neighbor’s homes. While the intent of this feature isn’t malicious, it still could present a security risk – not to mention the fact that it automatically opts users in until they specifically choose to opt out. For more information, as well as instructions to opt out of this feature, take a look at the following article: Amazon Sidewalk and How to Opt Out
With everyone now doing remote schooling in addition to remote work, we’ve been hearing about quite a lot of people having internet and WiFi issues lately. Here are some things to consider when you’re trying to nail down the source of the issue:
Raw Internet speed does not mean everything. We see a lot of people indicate that they have “1000 Mbps” or “Gigabit” speed that they have paid Comcast or Verizon a princely sum for, and yet they are still having issues. Often, internet bandwidth is like water pressure. You may have good pressure coming into your house from the street, but if your pipes are clogged you may not get good pressure in most of the house. This is usually due to interference or distance from your wireless source.
Make sure there aren’t any issues with your service provider in the area – the infrastructure is under more pressure than any time in history right now, and some of that translates to slow speeds or loss of connectivity in certain areas. If your issues are long-term and Comcast / Verizon aren’t seeing a problem on their end, the issue is most likely with the reach and strength of your wireless network.
WiFi can be a finicky thing; many things from kitchen appliances to the building materials in your walls can block or interfere with it, and your service provider will typically install your Modem / Router in a location that is convenient for them, not necessarily where you will get the best signal coverage. Good WiFi is also dependent on not only the device sending out the signal, but the device receiving it. Although a smartphone or high end laptop might have no trouble, cheaper devices like printers can be very inconsistent with their behavior on weak signals. To make sure you get a good signal throughout the house, additional equipment is often needed. Many people make the mistake of going with range extenders (or boosters, as some people know them) which are fraught with inconsistent behavior and the constant need to switch networks manually depending on where you are in your house.
Most of the time, we get the best results out of Mesh WiFi systems. The way these work is pretty straightforward – instead of one wireless router, you get a few different access points that broadcast WiFi and share their connection with each other. All of these points talk to one another and automatically and seamlessly connect you to the nearest one with the best signal, without you having to go out of your way to connect to a different network like you might have to with an extender. These devices come from many brands and in many shapes and sizes, and we’ve had experience with quite a few of them.
For newer homes, we tend to recommend the Eero Mesh WiFi System. In our experience, it tends to have the best stability (not as many strange dropouts or anomalous behavior) and is fairly easy to manage with its well-featured app. When it comes to older homes, we use the TP-Link Deco P9. Not only does the P9 have similarly good reach with its wireless coverage, but it tends to deal with older homes’ building materials (which usually aren’t conducive to good WiFi) better with a somewhat unique feature. In this case, they can use the electrical lines in the home to communicate, so even if they’re spread a bit thin or there’s a lot of interference between each access point, they can maintain their connection. We’ve recently found, however, that in rare cases they don’t interact well with newer, more sensitive circuit breakers – so any home with electrical work done in the last twenty years is ill-advised for use with this system.
If you’re the do-it-yourself type, these systems are not too hard to set up and get going effectively. For everyone else, we do this frequently and can certainly help you.
We’ve all been there at some point before – sometimes your computers, televisions, or tablets just don’t seem to get a good connection in certain rooms of your house. Whether you’re just trying to check your email or browse the web, or you’re streaming HD Netflix videos, that ever-present “Poor Signal” notice can be a huge annoyance. For some, this is easily remedied by a better router or a WiFi extender. For some, however, the solution is not so simple. For those more difficult cases, a new WiFi system has been making its rounds into the consumer market lately: Mesh WiFi. If you’ve never heard of this technology before, it’s not surprising; Mesh has only been widely available in the consumer market for a short time. Whether you’ve heard of it or not, however, you’ve definitely used it somewhere before. Most large businesses and public locations, from Hotels to large Retail Stores and Sports Stadiums use Mesh to achieve their massive and contiguous WiFi networks; in such places the same WiFi signal is available throughout the area, and remains strong wherever you go.
There are many causes of spotty WiFi performance, and some are more common than others. Although WiFi can be affected on some level by anything down to the weather, there are some consistent barriers to signals that will often be present all the time. Naturally, one of the most common barriers to WiFi is simply distance – houses with large floor plans and a lot of space will naturally defeat WiFi as you move away from the router. However, there are specific types of construction that will pose a greater impediment than just empty space: structures like chimneys or stainless steel kitchen appliances can cause deadspots, as can older construction materials like horse hair or chicken wire wall supports present in many colonial-era houses common to New England. In many cases, even other wireless devices can cause interference: devices like cordless house phones, bluetooth accessories, and neighbors’ routers.
Mesh networks work to counteract these issues by providing signals from multiple sources in order to provide a blanket of coverage throughout a wide area. Like range extenders, they use more than one broadcasting device to push signals into otherwise dead spots, but unlike range extenders, they use the same network throughout. Where range extenders usually broadcast a second network merely connected to the first, requiring users to switch networks in certain areas, a Mesh system keeps everything under one name and devices switch automatically. This ensures continuous connectivity to the strongest source available.
When it comes to home WiFi, it can be a real chore for even experienced users to find the right balance of coverage and the most appropriate solution for their situation. This is why we at RGB Computer Solutions have so much experience in home networking – we’ve dealt with some of the most extreme situations for many of our users in the past. So, if you ever find yourself in that situation where you just can’t seem to get a good signal, give us a call; we can find the solution that’s right for you!
Wi-Fi is something we all use, but don’t really think about; It’s one of those things that, when it’s working well, you don’t notice – but when it isn’t, it can be a complete show-stopper. Wireless networking as a whole has come a long way in the past decade or so, especially as devices have gotten smarter and become more connected than ever before, and the importance of having a strong connection to the Internet has become greater and greater. These days, many people connect to the internet almost exclusively wirelessly. Whether they’re reading the news or checking their email, streaming movies or gaming, the demands placed on their wireless equipment have grown exponentially.
Not All Wi-Fi is Created Equal
As the technology has developed, different standards have been created to more effectively push those bits over the air. For several years now, the most mainstream protocol has been Wireless-N, offering connection speeds on the order of ten times greater than the previous standard, Wireless-G, as well as far greater effective range. However, a significantly newer standard has begun to enter the mainstream in a more prominent way, and that protocol is referred to as Wireless-AC. AC Wi-Fi gains an additional three-fold increase over Wireless-N in terms of raw speed, but it gains nothing in terms of range. Instead, AC serves to significantly increase the stability and effective speed of connections at the same maximum ranges as Wireless-N, allowing for only a minimal drop in speed even near the edge of the wireless signal’s coverage.
In the current standards of Wireless technology, there exist two primary signal frequencies, or “Bands” as they are commonly referred to, on which most wireless devices operate. These two frequencies are the 2.4 GHz (GigaHertz) and 5 GHz. Most devices currently on the market support both, and are thus referred to as having “Dual Band” wireless capabilities. Either band can be used for the same purposes, but they both have their strengths and weaknesses. Working in conjunction, devices which can access both bands are able to gain superior range and throughput than devices with access only to one band or the other. The differences between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, as well as how they relate to and are effective in different scenarios, are a bit beyond the depth of this article, and is a topic we’ll discuss at a later date.
Just as in every marketable technology, when it comes to Wireless there are many options with differing specifications, which usually fall into either the entry level, mainstream, or high-end. Depending on the price bracket, these access points (or routers, as they have colloquially come to be called) will have greater or lesser effective range, throughput, or feature set to fit a given situation. However, the truth of the matter is that even the most powerful routers cannot meet the needs of every situation, and one of the biggest causes of this problem is from obstruction and interference. Every home suffers from “Dead spots”: areas in which the WiFi signal broadcasting from your router or access point simply will not reach. Whether you’re in a studio apartment, a complex office building, or even a large mansion, there can be plenty of causes for interference or signal obstruction. While the causes of this are numerous, so too are the methods the networking industry has devised to get around them. Devices such as wireless range extenders, ethernet over power line linkups, or mesh access points are some examples of such work-arounds, and are specifically suited to particular situations.
Unfortunately, wireless can be one of the most temperamental and finicky technologies to get working well, but when it is, it can also afford some of the greatest convenience in any situation. Each of these subjects deserves some further delving, as there are some very important details to consider when making an informed and educated decision on what solution will best fit a given scenario. This article’s main purpose was as an introduction to some of the technology available, as well as to raise awareness of the fact that many of the issues users encounter with their wireless can be worked around with the right equipment. Of course, as we always recommend for potentially complex scenarios like these, contact your local technician for recommendations and support in this endeavor.
There are countless tablets on the market, but Apple’s iPad is just sexy. Apple’s iPhone and iPad make it easier than ever to stay in touch and share media on the go. Despite their appeal, they do come with challenges; expanding storage on the devices has been a nightmare – until now. It’s time for a little device hard drive recovery.
A Wireless Storage Option for iPad and iPod
iPad and iPhone owners that need to store everything and take it with them now have an option as sexy as the iPad itself. The Seagate GoFlex Mobile Satellite device gives users 500GB of extra data storage. The best part? It’s wireless. There is no need to carry around another cable or bastardize the sleek beauty of your device by being tethered.
You can download media via your Mac or PC, and then stream it to your iPad or iPhone. It supports streaming to as many as three iPads or iPhones at once. If that wasn’t enough, the device creates its own Wi-Fi connection, so you can stream videos and upload data to your iPad or iPhone no matter where you go.
Who doesn’t love that?
If you find yourself constantly running out of storage capacity on your iPad or iPhone, the GoFlex Mobile Satellite from Seagate might be for you. It eliminates the need for online data storage, and eliminates the need for a high-speed internet connection to stream videos from the Web. Seagate’s GoFlex Mobile Satellite even lets you share your documents with other Apple devices, and will automatically sync with your PC or Mac to keep all your files current.
The price? It starts around $200.00 – but for some it will be worth the investment. It comes with: