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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. Check back every Monday for tips on topics from recording and publishing video chats to managing your finances online.
My name is Jess Stratton, and welcome to Monday Productivity Pointers. Today, I'm going to talk a little bit about wireless security and some things you can check when a particular device is having trouble connecting to a wireless network. Now, the key here is to take it through a series of troubleshooting steps, in order from the easiest solution to the most complex. Now, there's a few issues that are pretty common, so I'm going to cover those. The easiest one is of course, are you connected to the right wireless network? Sometimes your devices can surprise you.
I found myself a good 400 yards down the street in a neighbor's house with intermittent issues, only to find that my device was actually still connecting back and forth with my home WiFi. It was close enough, but it only got an intermittent connection. So it kept connecting, and then dropping the connection, and connecting back up again. And it gave me a very unstable experience, but yet I was still connecting to it. So that's the first thing to check. What wireless network are you connected to? The second thing to check, is what kind of Wifi security is it? After making sure, of course, that you are indeed using the right password, which, again, is a really easy thing to check, finding out what type of encryption it uses, will help you know what type of passcode it's looking for.
Now, I've logged into my router here. I'm on my screen here, and I can see what type of security options I have. For example, WPA2, WPA. If you're trying to connect to a network that uses something called WEP, W E P, this stands for Wired Equivalent Privacy. This is a very old standard of connecting up to network security. It'll be looking for a particular type of pass code. WEP is a very old standard.
And the hallmark of the WEP key is the use of only the digits 0 through 9, and the letters A through F. Which gives you what's called a hexidecimal value. Normally in your router, you used to be able to put in that actual pass phrase that you wanted, and it would spit out the equivalent of that pass code in hexadecimal, which contained 0 through 9 and the letters A through F. And you then needed to then go in and put in that very long string, into your device to connect up.
In this case, this router is new enough that that protection, which is very old, isn't even here as an option. So most likely something is connecting using WEP. It's either and older router, or a newer router and the router owners decided to keep the security the same. There are far better and safer alternatives. The most common now is WPA, or even the better WPA Two standard of encryption. This stands for wireless protected access. And you can put in a regular pass phrase here as the key.
Now there is a reason I'm telling you all this. This is something that happens a lot when you're trying to connect a device, specifically a laptop, to a wireless connection and you just can't. You're certain that you're putting in the right password and you're certain that it's the right wireless network, it's just not working. So the next thing that you need to check to see if the laptop is an older laptop, rather than a newer model. Older laptops come with older hardware. And the wireless card inside a laptop is indeed hardware.
So if it's older, then it won't know about the newest wireless protocols. So, many older laptops simply can't connect to a WPA network. They can only connect to a WEP encrypted network. So there's a few solutions here. The best one is to get a new wireless card for the laptop. They're usually fairly inexpensive, and it's an easy process to put a new wireless card into a laptop. But here's the thing, all your wireless devices need to connect using that same encryption method.
So before you get a new router or if, if you're thinking of updating your router, you need to make sure that things like printers, tablets, laptops and other devices can support it. Otherwise, you end up having to use what's called the lowest common denominator option, which is to use very weak security, just so one thing can connect, which is not a good solution. So go through, check to make sure you're connected to the right network. Check to make sure you have the right pass code, and then log in and see what type of security encryption it's using.
This is going to be your first clue, because after that, you need to go through and check that particular device that can't connect. See if it's old enough and make sure that it really can support that particular wireless protocol encryption.
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