If your personal computing hardware is like that of millions of homes across America right now, it’s being put to the test. At any given moment, our modems and wi-fi routers are juggling personal and work computers, video conferences, devices, video games, streaming sticks, printers, smart TVs and baby cams.
Sound familiar? At least you get to sleep.
With most school systems closed for the foreseeable future (and summer soon to follow), the demand on your equipment isn’t likely to let up. But that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank investing in high-end firewalls. Here are some easy tips to keep your system from taking an unplanned break.
• Update everything: This doesn’t just mean your phones and tablets. Start with your wi- fi router (directions may be on a label on the router itself) and check every device connected to it. Streaming sticks, printers, televisions – everything needs the latest security and performance updates to handle the increased load.
• Enable firewalls: Most router manufacturers provide fairly robust hardware firewalls that provide a decent level of protection without sacrificing performance. Paired with software firewalls available on iOS and Windows, you can customize what’s allowed on your home network.
• Conserve bandwidth: Putting a strain on your router by operating too many devices at once will slow your performance to a crawl – and usually at the worst time. Making sure televisions, video games and other devices are turned off when not in use will help the bandwidth go where it’s really needed.
• Parental controls: Let’s face it, even the best parents have tablets that double as makeshift babysitters these days. With a third-party program, you can manage screen time, limit access to explicit sites and keep curious minds from killing your network.
• Talk about proper use: Just as you would at work, make sure to discuss roles, expectations and acceptable use with any family members using the network.
If your network is struggling to transition from slightly used to high-traffic, make sure it’s up-to- date and optimized for your needs. It may not need to work harder – just a little smarter.