Sunday, March 23, 2014

Making Wi-Fi Work Well

Seniors need to keep connected wherever they are, and Wi-Fi is what connects your tablet or computer wirelessly to the world.   With Wi-Fi now taking over from wired systems, and essential for keeping us connected, the challenge is to get it working well and safely.   There is absolutely no reason Wi-Fi should not work perfectly for you.

WiFi works well and safely only if all links in the chain are secure, not just for you but for everyone else around you. Ideally, pick an Internet provider which does this for you. Too often WiFi does not work well (fast) or securely. It needs to be constantly and continuously monitored by you and others as changes are made.

It is extremely dangerous to yourself and others if your Windows system is not properly protected , though much less of a concern with tablets and phones. Your service provider needs to provide special support, though all do not do so.

The advantages of WiFi are great. It is just necessary to be responsible. Michael Miller's books on wireless and routers are excellent for an easy introduction to everyday user. Tap or Click for his Wireless Networking Absolute Beginner's Guide  Check the section on speeding up a slow internet connection. Nowadays it is just as important to master WiFi as to be able to drive a car, even more important if you can't drive any more.  Or get someone to do it for you---some providers do, and some don't.

Now that 25 percent of their users are dependent on WiFi, your company or organization or school will probably mandate procedures and enforce them with a Written Standard Practice. It would be irresponsible not to do so.   Poor performance could shut down an enterprise.


Here is a checklist of key points to consider. If unable to manage them yourself, make sure your internet provider does so.

Have wired signal strength checked to your modem by your internet service provider. Comcast always does this, using a meter.

Then, make sure your wired internet service is performing at maximum (speed) capability at a wired connection. Web pages should snap up quickly on to the screen.  Check over time at

If a problem is suspected your router, switch in  and test with a known working router or, maybe, get a new one, such as the D--Link 868L, or rent one, such as from Comcast, and let them take care of any problems.

Position your WiFi Access Point box well above floor level and in a central place well away from any other electronic equipment.

Have RF interference (microwave, cordless phone, doorbell, fluorescent lights, etc.) checked with a spectrum analyzer, either initially (when installed by a pro) or later when you find Wi-Fi is slow. Your ISP should really do this.   Requires a meter.   

 Have WiFi channel usage in your area checked so as to choose a channel without interference. This can be checked from a phone or tablet using a Wi-Fi app such as WiFi Analyzer.  Then suppress your shock at the potential conflicts.    My router (D-Link) auto selects the channel for the least interference from neighbors.

If necessary, and your computer or device supports the 5ghz band, use a dual band up-to-date router and access point, such as where many others are also using Wi-Fi on the older 2.4 Ghz band, as here.   An inexpensive state-of-art 868L router is available from D-Link.    (Most  of you are still using obsolete routers, no doubt, since big improvements came only recently.)  

Configure your router to disable PNP, if not already disabled, and provide it with a unique router login and password. Activate a firewall.    Provide a unique SSID and a secure key. Again, your Internet Service Provider should really do this for you, wireless or not.

Use a wireless n or, better, ac dual band adapter. Check out speed for throughput with a speed test, such as above. If speed is slow in a laptop add a USB external antenna access point (such as from Etekcity). I needed one even in a brand new Windows 8!! laptop still using older la[top hardware technology. Tablets have more up to date technology.

Install a repeater if necessary where performance drops with the distance from the Wi-Fi Access Point.  Mine is from Cisco.

If using a hotspot or cell phone as you computer or device WiFi Access Point, make sure placement is right to give you good results. Position near a window facing the connecting tower.  You can locate that on internet.

Use Chrome browser synchronization between devices BUT ALSO a faster browser for normal web surfing, such as Safari or Firefox or Opera. A phone or laptop may benefit from Opera's new max high-speed service for Android tablets and phones which speeds up processing by pre-processing high-speed in the cloud.

Avoid Norton or McAfee antivirus, programs which reduce speed and throughput. For Windows use Microsoft's own free Security Essentials, enhanced with the Defender and built into Windows 8 and 8.1.  

Do not under any circumstances continue to use Windows XP and expose yourself and others to security problems of ended support.

 Plan to replace your printers with wireless printers. The cheapest $50 Canon all-in-one is fine for most of us.  Love mine.

Then, say a prayer that your service provider is taking ownership of its responsibility of monitoring  and supporting the service it is providing, you deserve to get, and are paying for.  And maybe have a hotspot and service when your main provider service is down.

No comments:

Post a Comment