Home Networking 101

Home Networking 101

Ever wonder how your Wi-Fi works? Or what exactly your modem does? Technical support sometimes makes things sound confusing, but a basic understanding of your home network can go a long way in getting the most out of your Internet.

Modem

Most modems connect to your internet service provider with a coaxial cable — the same connector that hooks up to your TV or cable box. The modem then receives data from the ISP (Internet Service Provider). Put simply, your modem communicates with your internet service provider. It understands data you receive and data you give.

Router

The Wi-Fi hub acts like a traffic cop and routes the data. Your router gets data from your modem and shares it across all of your devices. Usually there are multiple ports on the back. One port connects the router to the modem so that it can receive all of the internet data. The other ports are usually for wired connections to your devices.

Throughput

Throughput is the speed that your router can transfer data. A faster throughput means faster downloads and less buffering. Wi-Fi throughput depends on your wireless standard. Right now, Wireless AC is the fastest with N, G and B following suit.

Wired throughput comes in two speeds: 10/100 mbps or 10/100/1000 mbps. The last number is the theoretical max speed that your router can transfer data. So a 10/100/1000 mbps router will allow you to transfer data at nearly a gigabyte per second.

Wired vs. Wireless Connections

Wired connections to your router will always be faster than wireless. Period. Try and plug in your stationary devices (think desktop computers and video game consoles) directly to your router. Phones, laptops and tablets will be best used wirelessly, though their download speeds will be a bit worse off.

Range

Wi-Fi signals weaken over distance. It’s important to try and place your router in a central location — especially if you have a larger home. Try to place your router in an open space where walls and appliances won’t inhibit the signal.  If a good setup still doesn’t do the trick, whole home Wi-Fi systems are a new solution to extend your Wi-Fi signal easily across your home.

Security

Taking a few steps to secure your network is key to preventing unwanted users and hackers from getting at your personal info. The simplest step is to make sure and encrypt your Wi-Fi with a strong, memorable WPA2 password.

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