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The Fix: Top tips for making the most out of your home network router

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The Fix: Top tips for making the most out of your home network router

8:45 /

We show you how to customize and set up your home network router, how to extend your coverage area to minimize dead zones, and how to share videos, photos, and files over a networked hard drive.

Hey, everyone, welcome to C/net's the Fix. The show about DIY tech and how-to. I'm Eric Franklin. And I'm Sharon Provez. You know, one of the most important devices you probably have in your house right now is your wi-fi router, right? That's how all your devices connect to each other and connect to the internet. Yep. So we start off with a few tips on how to set it up the right way. Just because you own a router doesn't mean you're using it to its full potential. Maybe somebody else did the initial setup. And you may or may not even be aware that they're settings and options you can even change. Don't worry though, I'm going to show you a few tips and trips on how to improve your network experience. And how to access your router settings. First access your router settings by going to its IP address. You usually find this address, on the bottom or back of your router. Use the username and password provided, but be sure to change it to something more secure when you get it. The chance. [NOISE] Once you're in the first think you wanna do is change your router's name, or SSID. Too many times I've gone over to a friend's house only to see that their router is listed as D-Link such and such with a bunch of numbers and letters behind. Behind it. Know, name your router to something easily recognizable at least for the sake of your visitors. Next, update your firmware. Sometimes connection of performance issues will crop up. And having the latest firmware, which is the just the software program for your router can improve performance and fix issues. You also want to change your network's password. This is the password required for devices to access your wi-fi. Change it to something secure, but something you're likely to remember, not just a bunch of random numbers and letters. If you only have 2.4 gigahertz band router, you should know that it uses some of the same video channels as your baby monitor and your microwave, not to mention that if your neighbor is using the same wi-fi channel as the one you're using. Or one that shares bandwidth with yours, it's gonna interfere with your performance. So what are the fastest channels to use? one six, and eleven. Using those channels should optimize your router speed. If you have a five gigahertz band router you'll likely get faster internet performance if you use that band. In five gigahertz there are more radio channels to choose from and each has its own bandwidth. Also be sure to choose either auto or. 20 40 for your channel bandwidth, this will give you the fastest speed while making sure that your network is as compatible with as many devices as possible. There are plenty of other options in your router's settings. However, the ones I just pointed out are the easiest and most efficient. Changing the name of your WiFi router is such a simple tip. But when you do it you can finally feel like it's your. Aw, nice and homie. Yes. All right. Time for a quick break. And when we come back. And Donald has few steps to extending your WiFi router to places in your home that otherwise dead zones. Welcome back. You know, once you have your router all nice and set up, what will you do when it barely reaches parts of your house? Well, we have a few solutions for you. WiFi routers are a great way to take your internet connection and share it wirelessly. But, there always seems to be one or two rooms in your home that don't get great WiFi reception. I'm gonna show you two inexpensive ways to get your internet spread across your home. The simplest one-stop solution is a wireless range extender. I got this one from TP-Link for about $30 online. And they look like an air freshener, but what it really does is act as a relay for your WiFi router. It rebroadcasts the signal in rooms in your home that aren't getting. And great reception. Here's how to set it up. First, find your wifi router and plug the extender into a nearby location. Next, find the WPS button on your router. WPS stands for wifi protected set up and it's an easy way for routers to pass along their log in information to other devices automatically. Press the button until it registers, and then go back over to the extender and press the button on the front. After a minute, your router and extender will find each other and perform a little virtual handshake. You'll know it's done when you can see the rest of the lights on the extender all lit up, which indicate the signal strength. Now that the extender is configured to act as an extension of your router, it's time to move it to another room. Plug it in, and after a minute you should see everything light back up on the extender, and if you don't you might be too far out of range for the extender to communicate back to your router. So, try a room that's slightly closer. And see if that does the trick. To test it out, take out your phone or laptop, and connect as usual. You'll see your WiFi router's name listed, you'll select it, and you're up and running. Now in some unique cases, a WiFi range extender might not be the best solution. Maybe you're trying to get internet out to a garage that's not even attached to your home, or you're trying to get internet down to a basement that seems to just block out any kind of WiFi reception. In this case, I would try a powerline adaptor. These things work by sending a wired internet connection over the copper wiring in your home. They come in a pair and you plug one into your router and run an ethernet connection from an available port on the back of your router to the connection on the adaptor. Plug the second adaptor into the room where you need internet and you can basically treat it like a wired ethernet port. Connect to it directly or set up another router here to make it wireless. So there you go. Two tricks for extending the Internet to every corner of your home. That does require some setup, but it's so worth it if you want that solid WiFi connection throughout your home. Definitely. Now if you wanna share data with friends and family, but you're not really sure how to do it, we've got a simple tip. Using devices you probably already own. Like many of you, I have a bunch of photos from a recent trip I took. And I want to be able to share them on all of my computers and devices at home without actually uploading the photos onto every single one. The solution is to use a networked hard drive. Once it's set up, I'll be able to view photos, videos. And any other files stored on the drive, from any device that's connected to my WiFi network. There are a few ways to go about this. One is by using a network attached storage drive, or a NAS drive. For the power user, they're great. But, if you're more of a casual user, who only wants to share media, there's a better, and more affordable, solution. On the back of most current routers, you've got all of your standard networking ports plus a USB port. When a hard drive is plugged in here, you can share whatever's on it with any other device connected to your network. Here's how to set it up on Windows. First choose your storage drive. It can be as small as a thumb drive. Or you can attach a bigger, external hard drive. Drive. Plug it in and head to your computer. Launch your browser and go to your router's IP address. In my case it's, but you can find yours in the device manual unless you changed it yourself. Every router's interface will vary, but if it has a USB port you'll likely find a file sharing option under the administrator setting. Here, be sure to enable the File Sharing server. Apply the settings and get out of there. Now, you are ready to access the drive. So, head back to your Desktop. Launch an Explorer window and go to the Network folder. At the top, clear out the paths and enter backslash, backslash, followed by your IP address. With that, your drive will appear. You can double click it to access it like any other folder. You'll be asked to enter your login which is the same one you used to access your router. Once I'm in, I can see all of my vacation photos and so can anyone else on the network. The process is the same for all other Windows computers. As well as my Android tablet. At this point, you might wanna map your drive so that it always appears on the sidebar for easy access. To do that, just right-click the drive and select Map network drive. And there are all my photos from my trip, whenever and wherever I want. And the best part is that if I ever need to take my drive with me somewhere, it's as easy as unplugging it and stashing it in my bag. That's it for this week's show. Thanks for watching. You can reach out to us with your comments, your suggestions. How-to's or even your own DIY. We want to see them. I'm @sharonprofis. And I'm @nidopal, and we'll see you next time. Right here on the fix.
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