Home Wi-Fi Networking Tips and Tricks

NETWORKING

TECH HELP & INSPIRATION

Whether you're experiencing slow Internet in your home, you want to make sure your kids are safe online, or you're concerned about digital security, find the answers to your questions here.

Networking Basics

What Is a Home Wi-Fi Network?

A home Wi-Fi network is your connection to the Internet. A strong wireless connection throughout your entire home is essential for enjoying streaming movies, shows and music, as well as browsing the Internet on computers or mobile devices. Your network operates in much the same way that radio signals are broadcast from a radio tower to your radio. First, the Internet signal is brought into your home from your cable, DSL or satellite service by a modem. Fiber optic is another growing technology available in select metro areas, and can offer extremely fast speeds of up to 1GBps. Then that signal is broadcast throughout your home, to your computers, tablets, phones and more, using a router or a series of routers.

How Do I Create a Home Wi-Fi Network (Key Components)?

Creating a strong home Wi-Fi network can be easy when you use the right products. There are a few key components that you'll need. First, you'll require a modem that connects your network to the Internet through a cable jack, DSL phone line, satellite system, or fiber optic cable. Then choose a router, such as a Linksys Velop or Google Wifi device, to broadcast that signal to everything from computers and smartphones to smart TVs or other streaming devices. Some people choose a gateway device, which combines the modem and router into a convenient all-in-one solution.

What Is Bandwidth and Why Is It Important?

Gaining a general understanding of bandwidth is key to making sure your network can support everything you want to do online without interruption. The first thing to consider when creating a home Wi-Fi system is your provider's download speed. 25Mbps is the recommended minimum speed to stream content like movies and shows. If you're considering streaming 4K content, you should find a provider that can deliver 100Mbps or more. Then, choose a router that can handle the download speeds you need. You can find this information on the router itself. For example, a router labeled AC1600 is capable of delivering 1600Mbps.

Why Is a Strong Network Important?

First, having a strong network means more than just a fast router. Even the fastest routers can quickly diminish in strength as you move farther away. The right network will be both fast and stable. For example, a strong network is necessary for enjoying a home theater experience that includes streaming high-definition movies, shows and music without buffering or other interruptions. Online gaming also requires a lot of uninterrupted bandwidth for smooth play. You may also need device prioritization (QoS) for a lag-free experience. And, when you start adding smart home products like smart thermostats, locks, security cameras, lights and other devices, they all take up bandwidth. Check out the graphic below that illustrates the difference between a standard Wi-Fi network and a whole-home network.

Common Home Networking Concerns

Slow Internet and Dead Spots

This is one of the most common network problems that people report. If you're experiencing buffering while watching streaming shows, or your signal drops off, you may have too many devices connected to one network, your router might not be in the right place in the home, or your rented modem is outdated.

Test your current Internet speed using Geek Squad's speed test page

Creating a Secure Network

Protecting you and your family from cyber attacks and ensuring your privacy online are growing concerns for everyone. We can help you set up smart firewalls, choose the right system for protecting your private information, and help you create secure passwords for your network.

Setting Up Parental Controls

Aside from cyber attacks, you also want to make sure your kids are protected from online dangers. Find out more about setting parental blocks that help prevent inappropriate browsing, as well as creating Internet "off" times to make sure your kids have downtime.

Slow Internet and Dead Spots

Learn more about creating a stronger home Wi-Fi network.

family watching electronic devices

Common Questions

  1. Where Should I Place My Router, and Do I Have the Right One?
  2. Do I Have Too Many Devices on My Network?
  3. Is My Modem Up to Date?

Answers and Recommended Solutions

1. Where Should I Place My Router, and Do I Have the Right One?

Proper Router Placement:
Wi-Fi signals weaken over distance. If your router is currently placed in a back room, at a far end of the house, or in the basement, your problems might be fixed by simply moving your router to a central location on the main level of the house. This solution can work for homes up to about 2,000 square feet.

Whole-Home Systems:
For bigger homes, a whole-home Wi-Fi system may be necessary. These systems use multiple devices, called nodes, to create a mesh network that completely surrounds your entire home with a strong Wi-Fi signal. Many of them let you add as many nodes as necessary to cover your entire deck, pool area, or yard. Keep in mind, you don't need a big house to benefit from a whole-home system. They create strong, stable networks in homes of any size, and will allow you to grow into bigger homes in the future.

Shop whole-home Wi-Fi systems

2. What Should I Do if a Lot of People Connect to My Home Wi-Fi Network?

Choose a Mu-MIMO System:
Often, families have multiple people connected to their Wi-Fi at the same time. Someone wants to stream a movie. Another person wants to play an online game. Others need to do homework. This often leads to slow speeds. A great solution is a Mu-MIMO system. Mu-MIMO stands for "multi-user, multiple input, multiple output." These products create multiple, dedicated full-speed Wi-Fi signals, so that many devices can connect at the same time without slowing down the network. It's also a great way to create a guest network for visiting friends. Another technology to look for is beamforming, which focuses network signals directly to your devices to help ensure strong, dependable connections. Most routers that feature dual-band or tri-band technology will also do a great job of managing a Wi-Fi network with multiple devices connected.

Shop Mu-MIMO systems

3. Is My Modem Up to Date?

Buy the Right Modem:
A lot of people rent modems directly from their Internet service providers. This can be okay, but often leads to slow connections and dropped signals. If you do a lot of streaming, or you have multiple users on a network, check to make sure your modem can provide the bandwidth you're looking for. Upgrading is quick and easy, and it's usually worth it. A great option to consider is a gateway device that combines the modem and the router in one easy-to-use product. A gateway can provide outstanding convenience and superior performance.

SECURING YOUR NETWORK

Find out how you can prevent cyber attacks and maintain privacy online.

Common Questions

  1. How do I prevent cyber attacks?
  2. How can I maintain my privacy online?
  3. Should I create secure passwords?

Answers and Recommended Solutions

1. How do I prevent cyber attacks?

Smart Firewalls:
The first, and most important, thing you can do to prevent cyber attacks on your home network is set up a smart firewall. You may be wondering, "What's a firewall?" This technology is a way to block inappropriate, untrusted or malicious content from entering your network from elsewhere on the Internet. Most firewall devices are simple to set up. For example, the CUJO system plugs into your router to protect the computers, tablets and smartphones that are connected to your network. Some firewalls may require a monthly subscription fee, while others offer free service with the device.

Shop firewall systems

2. How can I maintain my privacy online?

Network Control:
The first thing to keep in mind when considering privacy protection is to always connect to the Internet using a router, rather than connecting directly through your modem (unless it's a gateway modem/router combo). Most routers are equipped to offer a great deal of control over your network. For example, port forwarding is a way to make sure you can access Internet content coming into the house, while preventing your information from leaving. However, there are times when you might want to share content, like during online gaming with others. In those instances, make sure your router allows you to control what applications will be an exception to your firewall, and when.

Shop routers

3. Should I create secure passwords?

Secure Passwords:
Every router comes with a generic username and password that you'll use for the network initial setup. The trouble is that these usernames and passwords are usually available as a matter of public record. But, all good routers today will give you the option to set up your own unique network name and access password. Many will also allow for a guest network (with its own password) to help keep your own network separate and private. What's the best way to create secure passwords? One tip is to use a randomly generated password rather than something that can be guessed by others (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.). If you have questions about creating good passwords, Geek Squad Agents are always ready to help.

SETTING UP NETWORK CONTROLS

Discover some quick and easy ways to keep your kids safe online.

Teenage girls using cell phones

Common Questions

  1. How do I prevent inappropriate web browsing by my kids?
  2. How can I keep my kids from staying up too late online?
  3. Is a home Wi-Fi network difficult to set up?

Answers and Recommended Solutions

1. How do I prevent inappropriate web browsing by my kids?

Parental Controls:
If you have children, home network parental controls are invaluable. Most modern routers let you control what websites your children have access to, protecting them from viewing inappropriate content. Follow the setup instructions that come with the router to block any sites (or even just the kinds of sites) that you want to exclude kids from accessing. Or, ask a Geek Squad Agent to help.

2. How can I keep my kids from staying up too late online?

Internet "Off" Times:
Another way to help keep your kids safe online is to set up specific times when they're allowed to access the Internet. Many routers will let parents create "off times," which will prevent online access at bedtime, or any other time when you want your children to be Internet-free.

3. Is a home Wi-Fi network difficult to set up?

Network Setup:
Home Wi-Fi network products have come a long way. Many are more powerful, offer more control over security and protection, and are easier than ever to set up. Most routers have simple step-by-step instructions for setting up a strong, stable network that will cover your entire home. However, if you have questions, just contact the Geek Squad anytime.

Additional Resources