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#TRENDING: The Working From Home Era, The Battle Over WIFI & the Importance of a Proper Home Network

We have talked about this topic before but it has become such a HUGE issue that we thought we would visit is again.

A year ago, who would have guessed the importance of a strong and dependable home network. Since the world was turned upside down, many of us are now working from home, children are online learning, Sunday family dinners are now hosted on Zoom and everyone is streaming and online gaming more now than ever. Most home networks were never designed for this type of usage and we are now seeing them overwhelmed and congested. 

If you are experiencing slow internet and network speeds, here are some tips to help you boost speeds and connectivity! 

Hardwired Connection

Wireless connectivity is always nice to have as it is very convenient however, it can come with range and speed issues when your network is overloaded. For the BEST results, hardwire your stationary devices such as desktop computers, printers, gaming systems, and any other device that can accept a hardwired connection. Not only will that device receive the fastest, most reliable connection, but it will also free up more bandwidth and speed for the other mobile devices in your home. 

Location, Location, Location

Be mindful of where you set up your home office or study. If space is too far from your home network Wi-Fi router, you’ll receiver poor speeds and coverage in return, making it difficult for any wireless device to receive data. Having a wireless router placed in the basement mechanical room while your office is on the second story, the router now has to send a signal three floors up through all types of material to reach your device slowing down the signal as it moves. Also, consider what building material the wireless signal has to move through to reach your device. Material such as tile flooring, in-floor heating, concrete, and dense material can seriously slow down your network speeds. All of these factors determine your range and the speed you’ll receive. To improve your range and speeds, try moving the wireless router (if possible) to a more central location in the house, re-locate the home office closer to the router, or try adding additional Wi-Fi access points throughout your home. 

More is Better

Wi-Fi routers and access points can only send and receive a certain amount of data at any given time. If you’re relying on your sole wireless network router to handle 25+ wireless devices, with each one trying to access online services and data at today’s increased rate, you may need additional wireless access points. Additional access points when properly placed throughout the home, increase the range of the wireless signal, improves wireless speeds by eliminating the distance between them and the device, and load balancing with each access point dividing up and sharing wireless devices.

The Weakest Link

Your home network will only be as good as its weakest link. With an increased demand for internet, it may be time to upgrade your internet package from your provider. Determine the internet load you will be putting on your network and call your provider to discuss your options.

If you are having  wifi or home network issues or have questions, please give us a call and we would be happy to help you.

#TRENDING: Importance of Wire Labeling

One of our clients had a network issue last week and needed to put in a temporary router for the night until we could get there in the morning. Since we make it a point to label all of the wires in our clients home, this made switching out the equipment for the homeowner, quick and easy. However, this is rarely the case when it comes to wiring as a lot of technicians and electricians just pull, terminate and leave.

We believe that when tackling a home entertainment, home network, or other projects that involve wires and cabling, it is very important to label your wiring. This allows you to quickly identify a cable and its purpose in case of service or troubleshooting.

Here are some great tips on how to label your home system wires:

  • Invest in a good label maker. Dymo is a good brand.
  • Anything is better than nothing. Use white electrical tape and a black felt marker.
  • Label the wire based on its function and use. Example: HDMI out to TV or Xbox Network.
  • Label everything, even power cables. Nothing worse than trying to find a power cable plugged into a power bar where all cables look the same.
  • Labeling takes seconds. Saves frustration

It’s the little things that make a big difference and in the case of our homeowner last week, labeled wires led to a quick and easy fix.

#TRENDING: Home Energy Saving Tips

Earlier this month, we attended a webinar that discussed various ways of cutting down on everyday household costs. The attendees were very interactive and forthcoming with their ideas including cutting down on cell phone bills, internet packages, groceries, and more. When it came to brainstorming technology, we were excited to share some tips on how you can cut down on your household costs. Here are some of the ideas shared.

HEATING:

Installation of a programmable thermostat.

Lower AC or heating while not at home.

Lower heating while at night.

Set seasonal scheduled programs.

LIGHTING:

Using dimmers or a lighting control solution.

Depending on the amount of dimming, you can save up to 40% towards your electrical bill.

Combine with LED bulbs for further savings.

Use motion sensors in bedrooms and other high-traffic areas. These sensors will turn off the lights if no motion is detected after a certain period of time.

WINDOW SHADES: 

Using window coverings effectively can cut down on cooling/heating costs.

Thinking of replacing your window treatments? Honeycomb window coverings have an insulating property which makes them the ideal window treatment to cut costs. On average a honeycomb shade will have an R-value of 1.5 to 4.5.

The use of programable motorized shades will help cut down on costs as well. Have the motorized shade open while the sun is up, letting warm in then close at night to trap in heat.

POWER MANAGEMENT: 

Un-plug any un-used appliances or devices.

Using an automation system or smart plugs will turn off devices that don’t require power 24/7 and will help cut costs. This eliminates vampire power devices from adding to your monthly electrical bill. 

With whole home automation, you are able to control all of these elements plus so much more all while saving time, energy and money.

#TRENDING: Granting Network Access to Guests, Wifi Tokens & Wifi Schedules

Granting wifi access to friends and family can be a double-edged sword. We all want our guests to be able to gain wifi access when visiting however, on the other hand, having kids be able to access wifi on their devices at all times of the day (and night) can lead to learning and behavioral issues. By creating a guest network and wifi tokens for the kids, you can gain back control of what seems like an unmanageable situation.

Guest networks: While covid has put a damper on social gatherings, things will go back to normal…..eventually. Have you ever been asked by a guest for your wifi password so they can use your network? Ever wonder what kind of access you’re granting them by just handing over the password? The answer is your whole network. Does your guest need access to your entire network? Unless you want them to access your home automation system, Sonos music, and other services, the answer is usually no. If that’s the case, why not grant them access to a guest network. Guest networks are set up as a separate layer of your network that allows access to only the internet and will hide all the other devices that connect to your network. Keeping all your personal devices and data private. Depending on your network router, guest networks can have several features that help control access. Features such as:

  • Timed access: Once granted, a user will have a specific time that they can access the network. Example: 3 hours and once the timer expires, the guest network expires and disappears.
  • Download / Upload speeds: Set a maximum download and upload speed. Guests will not be able to exceed these limits. Perfect for those cases where you want to limit speeds so guests don’t crash your zoom meeting by hogging bandwidth.
  • Download quota: Once the quote has been reached, the user is removed from the guest network. Example: If exceeding 50GB that day, the user has reached the quota and is removed from the guest network. The quota is reset daily.

Wifi Tokens: No more free-range wifi for kids, this system is perfect for guests and families with children. In our household, we love the Wifi token system! This system is perfect for creating and managing family wifi access. Dad, can I have a Wifi token? Are your chores done? If so, here’s your one hour of wifi. Wifi tokens can have the following properties:

  • Usages: You control the total amount of time the token is used for. For example: when our daughter has three friends over, we create a token that can be used three times. The guests all enter the same token into their devices to gain access for a predetermined amount of time.
  • Expiration time: Tokens can have custom expiration times. Minutes, hours, and days are all options. Our go-to default tokens are 1 hour based. Once the hour expires, access to the network is revoked. If needing more time, create more tokens or longer-length tokens. It is all customizable to your needs.
  • Download and upload quota: As mentioned before, the same download and upload speed limits, along with download quota can be applied to wifi tokens.

Using wifi tokens to manage guest and children access is simple and easy and gives you some peace of mind knowing the kids are not suffering YouTube at 2 am.

Wifi Scheduling: Some network routers will allow to you create a guest network on a schedule. What this means is that a guest network will only be available during the times you designate. Example: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm on weekdays, 10:00 am – 8:00 pm on weekends. The guest or children’s network will only be available during these times. Outside of these times, the network is not available.

Guest networks mean keeping you safe, limiting access to devices, limiting time spent on the internet, and much more. Go ahead; get creative with your guest network.

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