With 10s of millions of people around the world now working from home, setting up a reliable, fast, and secure home network is essential to everyday working life.
It’s also key for our personal lives, whether it’s powering our smart home devices, enabling smooth video calls with relatives, distance learning and gaming for the kids, or simply surfing the internet.
But how do you actually get a home network up and running? We’ll walk you through the most important touchpoints so you can create your own stable, secure, and high-speed connected home in no-time.
First and foremost, get the right package. You could have super-fast, state-of-the-art hardware, but without a solid internet provider and contract, your working day isn’t going to flow as it should.
So, do some research before making your choice. Visit speedtest.net and check out their global index for a list of the best internet service providers in your area in terms of performance. Also, do a quick internet search to compare reviews and customer experiences of various providers.
Finally, if available in your location, opt for fiber optic broadband over a standard cable connection to ensure guaranteed bandwidth and increased speed.
From choosing the router to exploring range extenders, make sure you have the right hardware in place to ensure a smooth internet connection for all your devices.
If your router is several years old, it might be worth investing in a new one. The router’s processing power is particularly important. It’s basically like a brain - it communicates, sends and receives data, and the smarter it is, the better the performance. So choose a router with support for wireless 802.11ac and with a multi-core processor. Single-core processors are no longer adequate for meeting modern demands, especially if you’re doing lots of streaming or making video calls in high definition. Multi-core processors, on the other hand, broadcast the wireless signal across several frequencies, giving you better coverage and faster speeds. So, it is advisable to opt for dual-core, at least.
Also, make sure the router’s processor has enough RAM (Random Access Memories), which is key for fast and stable internet connections, especially when there is a lot of network traffic and when having several devices connected to the router. 128MB of RAM or more should be enough processing power for everyday usage, including working from home. If you live in a large household with lots of internet users and plan to use your home network for a high amount of video streaming, file downloads, data backups, and online gaming, then 256MB is advisable.
Most routers over the years could only be managed via an online browser, but that’s changing. Many modern routers come with an integrated app, for ease of use. This is definitely something to look for when choosing your router. Having a simple, easy to access user-interface via your smartphone is a huge weight-off when it comes to configuring and managing your home network.
In the same vein, having a router with a USB port in the back is now standard. This allows you to easily connect your smartphone to your router, for easy configuration before you’ve set up your WiFi.
The placement of your router and the layout of your home have an impact on the signal quality and speed of your WiFi, so it’s important to get everything in the correct position.
First, the basics. Set up your router in the center of your home and try to keep it away from other electronic devices. Routers tend to spread the signal downward, so try to place your router high up, with nothing blocking it.
Up until recently, most routers typically had a coverage range of up to 35 meters. Newer routers with support for wireless 802.11ac operate on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands and have a range of up to 70 meters.
The wireless signal sent out by the router is affected by brick walls and metal frames. These can reduce the signal strength by up to 25%. To find out how exactly your home’s layout affects the signal, use a free tool like InSSIDer Lite to map out WiFi strength around your home. This way, you can locate low-coverage points and then strengthen signals in key areas like the living room, your home office, and so on (see next point).
The best way to strengthen the WiFi signal in weak spots throughout your home is to invest in mesh WiFi. It’s a whole WiFi system that comprises a central router and several ‘nodes’ that you place in certain locations around your home. These nodes effectively communicate to make sure you’ve always got optimal speed and coverage throughout your home.
Another option is to use a range extender. Range extenders work by effectively repeating the signal from your router. It’s a fairly basic tool that’s typically cheaper than mesh WiFi, although far less efficient. Using a range extender works well when you want to boost the signal in one specific location, where you plan to use just one or two devices.
WiFi and network support are one of the most requested services at TechBuddy. So if you need help to set up mesh WiFi or range extenders, contact us now.
To configure your router, do the following:
There are a couple of advanced settings that you should be able to find within your router’s settings menu, accessed via the integrated app or online browser.
This allows you to prioritize certain types of activity, boosting WiFi performance when you need it most. For example, if you need a signal boost for your work Mac, you can set it as a high priority, while setting other devices in the home to medium or low. With some routers, you can even get a breakdown of how much bandwidth is taken by each device in your home.
Make sure QoS is turned on and then check back in with it later, to fully customize how your network’s bandwidth is portioned out.
One of the advantages of having a dual-core router is that you can assign devices across a 5GHz band as well as a 2.4 GHz band. This stops all your home’s devices from competing for a signal across one space. It’s like opening an extra lane on the highway for when there’s bad traffic.
Once you’ve set up the infrastructure for your home network, it’s time to bring your devices into play. The easiest way to do this is by using a dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) to automatically assign an IP address to each device. You’ll be able to do this through your router’s mobile app or the IP address in your internet browser.
You’ll also need to press the WPS (WiFi protected setup) button – you’ll typically find this on the back of the router. This makes the process of connecting to the wireless network much easier for each device.
Now that you’ve connected your devices to your home network, it’s time to make final checks. Test the speed and coverage of all your devices throughout your home with a speed test website such as the ones provided by Ookla or Speedcheck. This way you pinpoint any problem areas in your home network and can then solve them by adjusting QoS prioritizations or adding signal boosters.
If you’ve followed the steps above, setting up your home network should be simple and hassle-free. Still, problems can emerge at any stage of the process.
Don’t stress over your home network setup – get an expert on the case! Contact TechBuddy today and have a Buddy set up your ideal connected home.