Why your wireless isn’t working everywhere in your house – and what to do about it

WirelessNotWorking

We’ve all experienced the annoyance of being in those bits of our house where the wireless signal from our internet router doesn’t seem to penetrate. While this is a handy tactic for keeping kids from using up a whole month’s internet in three days (“sorry kids, I just can’t get the wireless to work in your bedrooms”), it is frustrating when you find your phone is connecting to the 3G network in certain rooms because it can’t get on the wireless.

So is there anything you can do to get your wireless internet to penetrate through your entire house? There sure is:

1. Figure out what’s blocking the signal

Wireless signals cannot pass through metal or metal mesh. They also struggle to travel long distances so if your house is particularly long and sprawling, and your router is situated at one end of your house, this might be causing dead spots in the opposite end.

2. Move your router

This is always the first option you want to try. If the wireless signal is struggling to get through walls, try moving the router into the roof space temporarily. This may not be a long term fix, but it’s worth doing to confirm if it’s the material in some walls that are causing the problem.

If your house is long and sprawling, simply moving the router to a more central location can fix things.

3. Upgrade the software on your router

If you have an older router, sometimes all it takes to get things working better is to upgrade the router software. Updates can be found on the router manufacturer’s website.

4. Check the channel on your router

Sometimes the channel your router is using overlaps with the channel other routers in your immediate vicinity are using. It’s worth figuring out how to change the channel on your router and see if this fixes the problem – especially if saves you buying a new one!

5. Get a new router

If your router is 3-5 years old, it’s worth trying a new version as router technology has changed a lot in recent years and the most current routers come with stronger antennas built in.

6. Try a repeater or extender

This is a piece of hardware (sometimes also called a wireless range extender) that takes the signal from your existing router and rebroadcasts it to effectively create a second network. For the rooms of your house that cannot access the primary signal, a repeater allows for connection to that second network.

7. Try an external antenna for your device

This is probably only practical for laptop computers. External antennas can be attached to your laptop and then, via the long cord most come with, the antenna can be moved to the bit of the room where the wireless signal is strongest.

8. Consider a fully wired network for your house

When all else fails and you can’t surmount the dead spots in your house … and it’s really affecting your ability to use your devices as you’d like, there is the option to get your house hard wired.

 

Help! Our kids have used up all our internet!

UsedUpInternet

Yep, we’ve all been there. Logged in to our computers one morning, gone to visit Facebook and …. chuuuuuuuuuugggg. How anyone ever managed to do anything on the internet with a dial-up connection we’ll never know but certainly, in this day and age, it’s near on impossible to send an email while on dial-up much less do anything remotely useful or fun.

Which is why, when we find ourselves in the position where our kids have used up our entire internet allowance in the first week of the month and we’ve been shaped, it’s pretty horrifying. No more Netflix, no more YouTube, no more Facebook until the end of month is reached and everything is back to normal again.

So … what to do about this situation? Well we have four suggestions:

1. See if your ISP does data upgrades

Some ISPs will let you buy a data upgrade for a month. And this is very useful if your reason for being shaped is a bit of a one-off type scenario.

2. Increase your plan with your ISP

If being shaped is a regular occurrence in your house, then you’re probably going to have to increase your plan with your ISP. While it might seem a lot to pay an extra $10-20 a month, that amount pales in insignificance to lost productivity from not being able to work fast … or increased mobile phone costs because you’re using the mobile network instead of your home wireless to access the internet on your phone.

3. Make new family rules

If your kids are up all night in their bedrooms streaming YouTube or torrenting TV shows, then it’s going to be hard to keep a lid on your internet usage. And you’re going to find yourself exceeding your allowance on a regular basis. So it may be worth introducing a house rule where all devices are turned off after 9.30pm. Your kids may not like these rules but unless they’re willing to chip in for the largest package going round, they don’t really get to protest right?!

4. Try blocking

If your kids aren’t into rule following, you might have to take a stronger stance. Something like the KidsBlocker product allows you schedule internet access, block access to certain websites, and turn off internet access via an app. Pretty handy!

All in all, it gets very difficult to keep a lid on costs when there are several people in one house all using a variety of devices to access a lot of rich media stuff.  That’s why, in our experience, it really takes a mixture of the above to get results and stop those darn kids using up all your internet in the first weeks of each month! #3 is the hardest, but usually the most effective!

Uploading and Downloading – What is the Difference?

UploadDownload

Simply put, uploading is when you send information to the Internet and downloading is when you retrieve or save data from the Internet. Transferring data from one computer to another is not considered downloading or uploading.

Uploading Data

Uploading data means you are saving digital files onto an Internet site. The most common example would be uploading photos or videos to social networking websites or uploading a file to Google Docs or Dropbox. A copy of the files are stored on the website’s server while the original files stay on your hard drive or smartphone or wherever you saved the file in the first place.

Downloading Data

Downloading data means you are saving a copy of a file that has been uploaded to a website by someone else. Simple viewing any website involves a data download because all the images you can see on that website (big or small) are downloaded to your computer.. Computers have a default location where this downloaded data is saved; however, you can change these setting and save the files in any folder you like. Smartphones, on the other hand, don’t usually have this option. You can’t control where the file or application will be stored.

Speed of Transferring Data

The speed of file transfers depends mostly on your Internet connection; however, the size of the fie is also a main factor. Speed is usually measured in megabytes per second (mbps). Since most users download more than they upload, download speeds are faster. This allows the Internet service provider to use the extra bandwidth for other things. For example, your download speed may be at 15 mbps, but uploads are only around 2 mbps.

Background Operations

Background operations are frequent uploads and downloads that occur without you realising that you have done anything. Just being connected to the Internet allows these technologies to function in the background. The source code from the website you are viewing is downloaded to your computer, so you can see the content when you open the page. You won’t see the source code – that is part of the background work. This is also when the website gathers information about you, called cookies.

Another example of background operations is your email client and server. Incoming email is automatically downloaded from the server into your email account, and every time you send an email, you are uploading data to another server.

What to do about constant Internet drop outs

InternetDropouts

Are you constantly suffering from internet drop outs? Drop outs are short, frequent losses of internet connection. It is quite common to experience a few drop outs per week, but if it happens more often than that, you could have filtering problems.

Drop outs are extremely frustrating. Diagnosing the problem can be even more frustrating and very time consuming. When trouble shooting, start by checking the line filter, as that is usually the cause of the problem. All devices in your home that connect to your phone line need to go through a line filter. Many people believe telephones are the only devices that need to be filtered, however, without good line filters, disconnections can occur when other devices such as fax machines, cordless phones, alarm systems, dial-up modems and digital pay TV systems are installed on the same line, even when these other devices are not in use.

Filtering

Every device on the same phone line needs to be filtered because the ADSL signal coming from the modem will eventually combine with the other devices. Since ADSL uses a higher range of frequencies, the other devices will pick up these higher frequencies, causing the connection to temporarily drop out.

How to plug in a line filter

Filters typically have two sockets on one side. One socket is for the line and the other is for the phone. Plug the other end into a line that runs to the phone socket on the wall. Some filters may also have an ADSL socket, but you don’t need to filter your ADSL modem. Never plug your ADSL modem into the phone socket or the line socket – this will cause even more internet drop outs.

Line noise

Line noise can also cause you to lose your internet connection. Test noise on your line by picking up the receiver. If you hear any crackling or static, there may be a problem with your phone cabling. Contact your telephone service provider, as the problem is on their end.

Phone cabling

The phone lines running from your modem to the wall socket can wear out over time, so check to see if they are in good condition. Disconnections can also occur if the line is more than ten metres long. Try using a shorter cable; also try other wall sockets in your home. The problem might just be with a certain phone socket.

What is ADSL and why do I need it?

ADSL

Home and business Internet connections come through multiple channels nowadays, and ADSL is one of these. ADSL is an acronym that stands for ”Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line.”

ADSL is a high-speed Internet service that uses normal copper-fixed connections to send and receive Internet data, usually at much higher speeds than a conventional dial-up modem can manage. The word ”Asymmetric” refers to the fact that an ADSL connection carries downstream data from the Internet towards your computer at a considerably faster speed than it does upstream data from your computer to the Internet cloud.

With an ADSL connection, you don’t have to dial up to connect to the Internet the way you usually do with a mobile broadband connection. An ADSL is capable of transmitting both voice and Internet data simultaneously, giving you a seamless connection. In essence, with an ADSL connection, you are always connected to the Internet.

How does ADSL work?

ADSL is Internet data that is designed to be carried through your home’s telephone line. To make this possible, a special micro-filter is plugged into your phone connection to separate voice data from Internet data, which allows you to surf the web and use your telephone at the same time.

The reason why the ‘downstream’ lane carries a bigger amount of data than the ‘upstream’ lane is simply because most people do a lot more Web surfing and data downloads than they upload data to the Internet. For people who tend to upload large amounts of information through the Internet (such as business uploading content or sharing large files), a special type of connection known as SDSL, or Synchronous Digital Subscriber Line, which provides a bigger uplink, is available.

ADSL is ideal for heavy Internet users including CAD users, gamers, and people streaming multimedia or downloading large files.

What are the advantages of ADSL over mobile broadband?

One of the biggest advantages of ADSL over mobile broadband is that an ADSL connection provides much faster speeds than a typical mobile broadband connection. A typical mobile broadband connection may provide download speeds of around 550 Kbps – in comparison, a traditional ADSL connection in Australia can achieve download speeds of about 8 Mbps. Ultra-high speed ADSL connections known as ADSL2+ can easily reach download speeds of 20 Mbps.

The second big advantage is that an ADSL connection provides a much more robust and reliable Internet connection than what a typical router or modem can manage. With ADSL you will experience fewer incidences of signal dropouts than with mobile broadband.

ADSL packages are also considerably cheaper than mobile broadband Internet. An ADSL package provides you with a monthly data cap, say 250 gigabytes or 500 gigabytes of data. Once you reach your monthly data limit, you are still able to access the Internet, but at lowered speeds, which makes ADSL ideal for home and business Internet connections.

Why does my home need smart wiring?

SmartWiring

If you are like most Australian home-owners today, you have a number of types of wiring installed. Wiring is needed for your pay television, Internet access, fax machine and landline telephone, among other things. While in the past it made sense to have separate wiring for separate services, with the number of services available today this option is no longer practical. Smart wiring is the way to go if you want your services to run smoothly, especially if you find yourself in need of repairs for any reason.

What is Smart Wiring?

Contrary to what you may have heard, smart wiring is not another type of network cable; it is a complete wiring system designed to make wiring-dependent services run more effectively. In essence, smart wiring is a system that allows you to integrate all of your home systems. Using this type of system, you can easily setup your home for the services you require and leave space for services you may wish to purchase in future. As an example, many Australians decide against pay TV each year. With a traditional wiring system, it may be difficult to reverse this decision. With smart wiring, you can simply hook-up the proper wiring should you decide in future to purchase pay TV.

Advantages of Smart Wiring

There are several advantages of a smart wiring system over traditional wiring.

  • It is easier to install. Smart wiring is generally installed by one technician, who can return to hook up or turn off other services as needed. Conversely, traditional wiring requires each service provider to install wiring separately at the start of service.
  • It is more flexible. As mentioned previously, smart wiring allows you to turn services on and off easily without requiring a renovation of your home to install new wiring. Once the smart wiring system is installed, you simply need to request additional services should you decide to take advantage of them.
  • It is easier to make repairs. Should your pay TV, landline telephone or other service go on the blink, smart wiring makes it much easier to get needed repairs. Rather than having to sort through a tangled mess of wires and/or temporarily remove wiring related to other services in order to access the needed wiring, technicians simply go to the smart wiring box and work with the needed elements to make repairs.

Simply put, smart wiring is an absolute necessity for 21st century Australian homes. With Internet wired phones, media streaming devices and other new technology becoming more and more standard, older wiring simply cannot bear the load.

 

Is it time to update the data and communications points in your home?

data

Technology keeps moving forward. Nearly every day there is a new device on the market, our Internet systems are updated, our phone lines need to be moved or additional lines need to be installed. This can create havoc in your home -you might find your telephone access points are no longer in a convenient location, or you can’t use your TV, phone and Internet without also having to hide a tangled mess of cables from sight. Add an intercom system into the mix and things can get really messy!

In short, in this day and age, you need organised data points that fit into your lifestyle, not the other way around. Also, your current wiring may not be up to date, and may not be able to handle all the new technology available to you.

If that’s the case, you’ll probably need the help of a professional to re-do your wiring.

In the meantime, here are some useful reorganisation tactics to get your home electronics and wiring back in order.

Telephone Points

Many phone and Internet connections share a line. If you’re currently using a separate point for each service, streamline your wiring so that your phone and Internet can both be connected at the same time and in the same port. You may even find you never use your home phone anymore in which case you might be a good candidate for what’s known as Naked DSL.

High-Speed Internet

To allow all members of the family to share one Internet connection, you need a router. The router is plugged in at the telephone point, and the signal is then routed throughout your home. With the new lightning-fast cables replacing old copper wiring, any place in your home can be a data point.

A fully wired system provides higher security. Some wireless connections are easily hacked, but with a properly distributed wired system, your data is safe from peering eyes.

TV Points

In many homes, the home entertainment system is the focal point of the living room. This means plenty of cables in a space where you spend a lot of time. The television, DVD player, stereo and other devices all need power, but they also all need to be protected from sudden power surges. A neat and easy installation solution will get the cables off the floor and into a sleek, streamlined system that can be discreetly tucked behind the unit. 

Intercom Systems and Security

Home security is an important factor these days. Fully wired security (linked via your phone line to a monitoring service) and intercom systems are no longer as costly as they were in the past. These systems can now be installed very painlessly into existing homes with the minimum of visible wires. They are also a highly cost-effective way of giving all family members additional peace of mind when entering an empty house.