Networking Help

Ben the Network Doctor

We provide a complete network setup solution for either your home or office. Creating a network from scratch or expanding and securing an existing network.

Available onsite or remote consulting available for networking issues contact us today!

Networking Experience

Why trust us?

With a combined experience of over 20 years in tech and IT our passion has always been networking and getting computers talking to eachother. Whether a small home wireless network or a scaled up business solution we've been there, done that and restarted the router.

Cable Woes - Why Long Ethernet Cables Suck

I will preface this with a little bit of honesty. When I'm gaming myself I do prefer to be on an Ethernet connection. My old flat mate crimped together a 50m cable which I've now had for about 5 years. It's so old that both clips are broken on both ends and the last time I used a different cable I couldn't understand why it wasn't just popping out of the router. Took me a moment to remember Ethernet cables were supposed to clip in.

I'll use my wireless network 90% of the time and the truth is I know that the tiny amount of latency difference will never really matter for my needs. Or most people's for that matter. But sometimes for gaming I want that lower 100ms ping so I roll out the cable.

ethernet cable

I've seen people go to some lengths to connect an Ethernet cable. Rather than just try and improve their WiFi I've seen cables run outside between windows and even drilled through a wall. I've seen an office setup at least a dozen wifi repeaters instead of a simple network channel change (funny!) but even cooking your brains like that would be preferable to running a long cable around the home or office.

Aside from the complaints you're going to get from your health and safety guy (and then I get them when you won't let me change them) you're going to damage devices. Sure nobody wants to trip on a cable and spill their coffee or bruise a knee but if you trip over my Ethernet cable just now you're going to shock load my network card and could break the motherboard. You could damage the router or access point and knock an entire office offline. Not the best of plans.

And even when you staple the cable into the corner of the walls it still has to go through doorways (not windows I'm just refusing to do that any more) and they slowly get chewed apart. My personal cable lasted a long time but I can tell it's taking a beating the more frayed it gets the weaker the signal strength. When my door eventually chewed it in half I had to re-crimp it in the middle just to keep it going.

Wireless Woes - Fixing Your Wireless Network

He more reliant we become upon the Internet and wireless networks the more it sucks when we're not able to connect. I know I can't be the only one who has stared at the Chrome offline dinosaur image.

Did you know that thing is actually a game? The next time you can't get online and Chrome greats you with that little message hit the space bar and you have the mini game of jumping over things as the dinosaur. Not even kidding. Played it for a while before because what else do you do when you don't have Internet.

So how do we make our wireless internet more reliable?

Well first up choosing your ISP. Every one of them will have issues and downtime from time to time. Big companies have customer service horror stories but you're looking for the best in the area. It all comes down to the exchange and even if your old area kept having downtime and slow speeds from one they might be the best in a different area.

Check reviews online and heck even as your neighbours. You're generally in quite a long contract once you get started so it is important to get this part right the first time. Focus on speed and reliability since there's only a few dollars difference in price and it's worth it.

Secondly placement of your wireless router. I know it looks like an ugly space porcupine and when the robot uprising comes it's probably on the front line (think of the abuse they must take from frustrated ISP customers) but you don't want to hide them away. Get them up as high as you can away from other obstructions and the closer to where you'll normally be connection from the better. If your ISP is being cheap they might give you a rubbish router without much strength. If possible you should consider swapping this for a decent one. Check with your provider that you'd be able to connect with it first and get some with external antennas.

After placement you also want to make sure that your router is as up to date as possible. Go into the settings (login is usually on the back of the router) and find the update button. This won't be needed too often and honestly is unlikely to do much even if it does need an update. But for security if nothing else it doesn't hurt to make sure the firmware is updated and if it helps the signal (which it can in theory) then consider it a bonus!

Next there's the device you're connecting with. For a tablet or phone there's not a lot you can do. Ignore the apps that try and sell you something saying they can you really need to be using hardware to get a better signal.

For a laptop by default you'll have an internal wifi antenna. If you're having a problem getting a connection with is the first step is to plug into the mains. Your laptop will give it less juice from the battery because it's made to conserve power and last longer. If that isn't enough then you need to look at external wireless cards. Usually USB powered since the little pice slots don't really come in laptops any more. Ideally one with an antenna and not a little USB dongle this means less interference from the laptop itself and more power than the default one is likely to come with. Laptops are harder because you'll likely be moving around with them and connecting from different areas. A higher power antenna will give you a boost but we can't use a directional one unless you constantly want to keep track of where the router is. The only downside to doing this on a laptop is it becomes an extra external cable to worry about losing or breaking. And watch out for the USB port of you tip it over while the adaptor is plugged in you can break it.

Desktops get it even easier. You can install a high powered wireless adaptor with a decent directional antenna. Point it at the router and you'll see a big signal difference. There are guides online to build your own antennas and things but honestly they're not as easy to do as you'd think and you won't get the same performance as you would with a device was has been specifically manufactured to improve a wifi signal. Not to mention the significantly less chance of electrocuting yourself. Bonus!

wireless repeater

If all else fails and Ethernet is still not an option (boo cables!) then the next step is consider a wifi repeater. These third party devices are made to do one thing. Connect to an original wifi signal and create a second network. Doesn't sound very useful until you think about it. Putting it next to your router will just create two wireless networks you can't connect to - but it doesn't have to be next to your network.

If you have a spot in your hall which gets the wireless signal but your bedroom doesn't then you can still be in your bedroom while the repeater connects in the hall. The new wireless signal will then begin in the hall where your laptop (or whatever device) can connect to it and it shares the internet connection from the original router. Sounds a little roundabout I know but if you really want to remove wireless dead zones it is the best way. For larger areas you can network a few of these together (you don't really need any technical skills it's just like connecting to a wireless network with a laptop or tablet).

Between that lot you shouldn't have any more wireless woes. Don't just limit yourself to one either. If you're struggling to get a connection go one at a time until it makes enough of a difference or throw the kitchen sink at it and do the whole lot at once. Every little helps when it comes to a wireless signal.

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