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6 tips on how to optimize the speed of your home network

Derek Meister, Geek Squad Agent, Best Buy, special to Network World | Dec. 21, 2015
The average number of connected devices in the home is expected to grow to eight this year, which can strain home networks.

The average number of connected devices in the home is expected to grow to eight this year, which can strain home networks.  The most common concerns: Slow connection speeds, dead spots and not knowing who to reach out to when issues arise.

The good news is that tuning up your home network is simpler and relatively less expensive than ever. Here’ how:

 Start with a high-speed Internet connection. Not all broadband connections are the same, especially when you’ve got a family of avid gamers or steaming movie lovers. To start, you’ll want to see how fast your existing connection is and there are a couple of free tools to help, such as Geek Squad’s SpeedTest, SpeedTest or DSL Reports.

How fast should incoming connections be? For basic streaming video, at least 3Mbps or higher. For HD quality video, 5M to 10Mbps is recommended. You’ll want to compare what you’re actually getting to what your Internet package provides and contact them if you need to upgrade. Now that you have Internet sorted out, it’s time to consider what router works best to free your speed.

Upgrade your router. If you have an older router, it may not be able to handle the number of connected devices added or all the new streaming music, movies and games. Now may be a good time to upgrade, especially if your router is three to five years old.  Even if your router isn’t that old, if you find yourself frequently rebooting your router or avoiding a Netflix marathon because you keep getting that buffering icon, it is time to upgrade. 

Wireless G (802.11g) was the long standing standard for most routers, but has been largely replaced by the faster, more capable Wireless N (802.11n). But for the latest and greatest look for Wireless AC (802.11ac).

A new router will support more than one standard, usually whatever it’s rated for and the older ones. A Wireless AC router, for example, will support AC, N, and G. That’s important because not all of your connected devices will support the latest standards. A Wireless AC router, however, gets you the most compatibility for all devices and best performance for Wireless AC compatible devices.

The wireless portion of your network isn’t the only part of the router that affects speed. The faster the processor, the less time information spends inside your router and the faster your overall network speeds. A router that supports the latest wireless standard and has a good processor, will easily handle all existing devices as well as any new future connected tech you bring home. Once you’ve chosen your router, it’s time to set it up and secure it.

 

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