Wireless networking is kind of like an emergency kit for your car. You don’t really think much about it when it’s there, but you’re going to notice it’s missing when you need it. Also, you want to make sure it’s set up to give you the best possible experience.
Tagged With wifi
I might as well rename the Ask Lifehacker column “The Wifi Wizard,” given how many of you have written in with wireless networking questions over the past several months. That’s fine, though. Wireless networking is near and dear to my heart, as I have wonderful memories of the three years I spent testing routers for Wirecutter—lots and lots of routers, and enough throughput tests to last a lifetime.
Hiding your neighbours’ wifi networks, not to be confused with blocking, is entirely possible. After all, your device automatically connects to your wireless network if you’ve saved the credentials. And in Windows’ “wifi connection box”, for lack of a better name, your OS automatically sorts all the wifi networks it sees from the strongest signal strength to the weakest (minus any hidden networks).
Unless your neighbour has an access point inside your house, you should be seeing your wifi networks at the top — or close to it.
A Lifehacker reader alerted me about the existence of Ubiquiti’s WiFiman app in a recent Tech 911 post—thanks, Rick!—and I wholeheartedly recommend it if you’re an Android user. The app also exists for iOS, and it has a few fun features, but it’s not nearly as useful for learning more about all the Wi-Fi congestion that’s slowing down your connections.
Few things are more frustrating than slow data speeds, especially on brand-new devices that are supposed to outperform earlier versions by a lot. Unfortunately, since the iPhone XS and XS Max hit stores last Friday, users have reported Wi-Fi and mobile connectivity issues, including slower tested speeds than the iPhones they replaced.
Few devices are as essential to the smooth running of a modern-day digital household than a wireless router, so it’s strange that this black box is so little understood. Here we’ll outline one of the key features of many modern routers, dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz support, so you know exactly what it is and how to take advantage of each.
Android: If you’ve updated to Android 9 Pie, you may have noticed that your smartphone will now automatically turn on your Wi-Fi connection — if you’ve turned it off — when you’re near familiar network with a strong signal. This feature, which debuted in Android Oreo, is now flipped on by default in Android Pie.
If you aren't checking your Internet speeds on a weekly basis, you might not know when there's a problem. You aren't likely to notice a difference between 150 Mbps and 80 Mbps download speeds when you're browsing websites, watching (1080p) YouTube, or chatting with friends, but if you're downloading a huge Fortnite update, why drive in the slow lane?
WiFi networks, especially free ones, are always the hardest to find when you actually need them. Now Google has made tracking one down a little easier thanks to a new feature in its data-saving app Datally.
Windows: There are a million little apps that feature some combination of the words "Wi-Fi" and "analysis", or something really close to either. Some apps are paid; some are free. And they all allow you see different combinations of information about your wireless setup (and the wireless setups of those around you).
I love automation; I do. I just think it's the most fun thing ever to walk into my house and have my smart lights immediately pull up some colourful scene — not to mention all the absurd configurations I can create that changes their colours and brightness when certain things happen, ranging from "I got a tweet" to "It's midnight why are you still awake go to bed."
Mesh networking has become increasingly popular as people try to improve wireless coverage at their homes and offices. But it's been challenging to deploy as you've needed to choose a brand a stick to it as gear from different vendors didn't work together. But that's set to change as the WiFi Alliance establishes a new, software-based standard that will enable cross-manufacturer interoperability.
macOS: It's important to know how to fine-tune your wireless router, because not every router can just auto-adjust your wireless network's settings to give you the highest quality connection. That, and a great wifi-analysis app can help you figure out the areas of your house or apartment that might need a little more wireless support -- either by adding another access point or adjusting your existing configuration.
As we add more connected devices to our homes we want to ensure that the wireless signal covers our homes as completely as possible. No-one wants a networking dead zone so finding ways to expand your home network easily can be a real lifesaver. It's possible to replace your entire network with a mesh networking system, but sometimes, a simple extender is all that's needed to bounce the signal a little further along. Let's look at some of the best options around.