You are trying to watch a film in high-def on Apple TV, your daughter is listening to Spotify while she’s doing homework, your wife is working on her laptop, your toddler is playing on the iPad, and your son is, gulp, doing some serious PC gaming. All this online action can bring your home network to its knees.
With the ever-growing trend in home networking of connected home-entertainment gadgets and gear adding to this already gridlocked state of affairs, a strong home network is a must . . . but not a given. To get the most out of your IP-based toys, we talked with the folks from Luxul, maker of robust networking products for both the home and office. Here are a few tips for making sure your network is ready and optimized for smooth operation.
1) Upgrade Your Router
The router is the heart of your network and manages all traffic between your local network and the outside world. Three common types of routers include Wired only; Wired + Wireless; and Combination Modem/Wired/Wireless. For maximum horsepower, try a wired router, which processes only routed traffic, while routers that include wireless and modem functionality draw double and triple duty, essentially limiting overall network performance, as well as the number of devices and processes supported.
2) Get Dual-Band Wi-Fi
With more devices available for 5GHz , implementing a wireless network that supports both simultaneous 2.4GHz and 5GHz can help optimize network traffic by pushing traffic to another band. 5GHz is less crowded with less interference, leading to consistently higher data rates. This makes it a great option for streaming video, gaming, VoIP, and other data-intensive applications.
3) Use VLANs for Security
The Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN) is a great way to lower latency (aka delay) — the time it takes for data to go from one point in the network to another — and keep your network from bogging down. A VLAN can also help improve network security by segregating certain applications or devices on the local network. For example, you could place a VoIP server and phones on their own VLAN to reduce latency that can affect call quality. Another common use is to put a media server and playback devices on their own VLAN to get the best streaming quality possible. To implement VLANs, use a managed switch (such as Luxul’s Wireless XMS1024) or wired router that offers VLAN support.
4) Set up a Guest Network
Hogging Wifi bandwidth adds another dimension to guests wearing out their welcome. For that reason alone, a guest network is a good idea. Guest networks let visitors and friends connect and get Web access in your home, while also protecting your private or business data on your local network. Depending on the functionality of the router used to set up the guest network, you can also limit the amount of bandwidth and types of usage by the guest. (No Netflix for you, grandma!) Plus, you can easily and frequently change the passcode without needing to update all your devices on the network.
5) Use a VPN for Secure Remote Access
These days, you can use your smartphone to do everything from turn on the lights to get the jacuzzi hot while you are still in the car on the way home from work. All this remote operation, however, means that you need a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to better protect private data. A VPN encrypts the traffic from your device to your home network, meaning that even if someone is able to capture your data while you are remotely accessing your home network, the data is rendered useless without the encryption keys. VPNs also add another layer of security by requiring a login from the remote device. To implement VPN, use a router that offers VPN support.