Tips, tricks for using Wi-Fi at home

Wi-Fi offers you and others wireless access to the Internet and to the local network within the home to share files and printers. It’s great if you have a laptop or other mobile devices, like a smartphone or tablet. You can move around your home and still have an Internet connection. Though you might already have an Internet connection on your smartphone or tablet via your cellular provider, using the Wi-Fi can help you conserve your costly data plan.

Even if you don’t have a laptop or other wireless-capable gadgets, you still should consider getting Wi-Fi for family and friends that come visit. Ask anybody you know that might come visit with their laptop — they’ll certainly want Wi-Fi.

Though Wi-Fi frees you from wires, it uses the airwaves and there can be issues with interference, coverage, and security. Here I will share some tips and tricks that hopefully will help you have a better Wi-Fi experience:

Go with dual-band Wi-Fi: If you have neighbors nearby, chances are that the most common frequency band (2.4 GHz) is over-crowded with Wi-Fi signals since there are only three usable channels. However, there are many more channels available in a higher frequency band (5 GHz), thus it can provide much better reliability and performance in areas where there are neighboring Wi-Fi networks.

You’ll need what they call a dual-band wireless router, which you’ll have to buy since Internet providers typically don’t offer them. Though any Wi-Fi computer or device can connect to a dual-band router, they’ll still only connect in the congested 2.4 GHz band unless they also support 5 GHz. For any wireless desktop PCs or laptops, you can buy USB dual-band wireless adapters if needed. Higher-end smartphones or tablets often have dual-band support these days, but if they don’t they can’t easily be upgraded, unfortunately.

Pick a good place to install the router or gateway: You should try to install your wireless router or gateway near the center of where you want the coverage. For instance if you have a three-level home and you want coverage throughout the house, consider installing on the middle floor near the center of the home.

Ensure it’s password-protected: If your Wi-Fi doesn’t require you to enter a password the first time you connect from each computer or device, then anyone nearby can connect and possibly access your files. When it’s properly password-protected, the Wi-Fi signals are also encrypted so nobody can snoop on your Internet activity. For the best protection, use WPA2 security with AES encryption.

Find a forgotten Wi-Fi password: If you’ve forgotten your Wi-Fi password, don’t worry. If the wireless gateway was installed by your Internet provider, the password is usually on the wireless gateway. If not, you can usually retrieve the password from any computer (running Windows Vista or later) that is or has previously connected to the Wi-Fi: click the wireless icon in the lower right of the screen, right-click your network name, and open the connection properties. On the Security tab, click the “Show characters” checkbox and you’ll see the Wi-Fi password.

Eric Geier is the owner of On Spot Techs, which provides on-site computer repair and IT services at homes and businesses in the Dayton, Springfield and Northern Cincinnati areas. For more information, visit www.onspottechs.com or call 937-315-0286.

Eric Geier is the owner of On Spot Techs, which provides on-site computer repair and IT services at homes and businesses in the Dayton, Springfield and Northern Cincinnati areas. For more information, visit www.onspottechs.com or call 937-315-0286.

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