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In this series on productivity, author Jess Stratton takes you through the latest tools that will help you run your business and life more efficiently. Each installment covers a particular feature or technique in a different online tool, such as Google Apps, Skype, YouTube, Mint.com, Etsy, and more. Learn about topics ranging from recording and publishing video chats to managing your finances online.
Welcome to Monday Productivity Pointers. My name is Jess Stratton and this week I'm talking about home WiFi. When things are slow with your home wireless connection, it's not necessarily just a matter of getting a new router, and sometimes you may get a new router and not notice any speed increase at all. There's a lot of puzzle pieces and a lot of hardware. That all combines to give you the speed you get when you use the Internet on your device. Today, I'm going to show you what all those puzzle pieces are. So that you can check them one by one and make sure you're squeezing every possible megabit per second of speed.
I'm going to start with the most general things and end up with the most specific. But the first thing I need to explain is how wireless speed is measured. It's measured by means of megabits per second. How many megabits per second of data can be transmitted over the connection? One megabit is one million bits. So a 54 megabit connection means that it can transfer approximately 54 million bits of data per second. Obviously, the higher the number, the faster the connection speed.
When we talk about speed, we also usually refer to it as bandwidth that is the amount of data that your allowed to transfer. These rates can also change over the course of your connection, so your max speed may also not be the speed you connect at, it could be slower. And that's okay. We're here today to identify the weakest link in your home wireless configuration, and to find the weakest link in the bunch, we first have to identify what the bunch is. So, here's the first puzzle piece. Your modem speed. Is your cable modem or BIOS word DSL. Outdated.
This can be combined with a router, or it can be a stand alone piece of hardware. Most likely, it came from your provider. So the first thing that you can do, is call your FiOS, DSL, or cable provider, and ask them if you're using the most current modem to get online. The next thing is your router speed. You could be using an older router. If you don't know the speed of your router, the easiest thing to do is to search the web for it on the model number, and find out. Let me show you. I did a quick Google search on the router that I use at home.
It's called the NetGear N600. So if I do a Google search, I can immediately see the first result is the actual model number of that router. Which is WNDR3700. And I can see right in the description, that the NetGear N600 router offers wireless speeds of up to 300 Mbps. Now in the next video, I'm going to show you how to log into your router and configure it for something called dual band mode for even more speed. And while you're there, if your network connection is slow you can also do something called a firmware update on your router.
The next thing to check is your wireless adapter speed. Your computer or laptop has a wireless adapter in it. It's a physical piece of hardware. Now, most likely, has the fastest speed that was available when the laptop or computer was built. Or, when you bought the adapter, if you have an external USB wireless adapter. Because, a lot of older computers didn't even come with wireless adapters. So, you may have had to go to the store, and bought an external wireless adapter. That you then plugged into the computer via a USB cable.
Now, that comes with a maximum speed, also. To find out the speed if you're on a Mac you can do a spotlight search and type, network utility. Let's do that now. I'm going to hit Cmd + space on the keyboard and type network utility. If I get into that Network Utility I'm going to click on the Info tab, and the first thing I need to do from the Drop Down is select the network interface that I'm looking for. Now in this case I'm not connected via WiFi, I'm connected by a hard Ethernet cable, so I'm going to select that. But you would see wiFi in here.
I'll find the right connection, and I'll know it's the right connection because it's one that has an IP address. And it's actually transmitting data over here on the right. I can see what my link speed is currently, but what I'm interested in, is the make and model of that physical piece of hardware, so that I can look it up online, and see what the maximum speed is. If you are using Windows, in the task bar on the bottom right of the desktop you can right-click that wireless icon which is the icon with the tiered bars on it, open the Networks and Sharing Center and click on your Wi-Fi connection.
You'll probably see a button there that says Properties and you can click on that to see that actual make and model and name of your wireless card. The next thing to search on, is your provider tiered download speed. Gone are the days of signing up for a high speed internet. Now internet speed is tiered, meaning you can pay more per month for faster download speeds. For example, you can get a 75 megabit per second download speed, which is great for families that have multiple computers and stream video a lot. So what you need to do now, is call your provider, after you ask them what type of cable box you're using, and see what download rate you're currently getting.
Sometimes you can increase it, and they're always having specials. So you can shop around and see what the price is. For a good rate for you. And even then though, after, you can go to a website, called speedtest.net to make sure that you're really getting that speed. You may not get that actual speed, but you want to make sure you're coming close. There's one more piece, and that's your router configuration. I'm going to go over this in the next video, but it does play a part here. You can have a router that's capable of a fast connection, but you might have it configured with an older networking standard.
You may have heard of something called an 802.11 protocol. This is a WiFi networking specification. It's a standard. We started out with 802.11a and b. Then we moved on to wireless adapters that were being manufactured to support much higher transmit data speeds which gave us something called, 802.11g. And finally, the much faster and still widely used 802.11n. Now I'm covering this here because these are numbers that you've probably seen a lot.
And maybe you didn't know what they were. So you have the ability to log into your router, and make sure you aren't slowing down your connection by having it set to an older protocol. Such as 802.11g. Every one of these pieces is important, and it's important to know the speed that each hardware item maxes out at. This is how you can tell what your weakest link is. So now that you know what all the puzzle piecces are, you can go through and identify where your bottleneck lies. I know a lot of people that have the latest and greatest tablets and computers.
Which would certainly come with fast Wi-fi adapter speeds, and they recently switched to Verizon FIOS to give them that screaming fast 75 megabit per second download speed. However, their router is still the old blue Linksys WRT54G model. Which was the old blue router with the two rabbit ears on it. This is a really old router from back when 54 megabits, per second was the fastest speed out there. The connection will never be able to transmit any data faster than that. So, in this case, spending more money for a faster Internet connection speed is a waste.
As the computer will never be able to download at that speed, due to the limitations of the router. I'm going to leave you with one final thought. For streaming, nothing will be more stable than a wired Ethernet connection. Many devices like Blu-ray players, TVs and XBox consoles also come with the ability to plug in a physical cable through Ethernet from your router. If you're worried about streaming quality, think about moving your home router into your living room, TV and console area, so that you can hardwire everything. In the next video, I'm going to show you how to create what's called a dual band wireless network.
So that you can potentially double your WiFi speed.
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