Monday, June 21, 2021

How I solved my network issues

I frequent some help forums for different things related to streaming. One common complaint across almost every help forum is people losing network connection. Related to that is when people have an issue that can be explained by network issues.

Most of the time, people don't like the suggestion that their network is at fault. That is akin to saying they wasted money in setting up a poor network, and nobody likes to be told they wasted money or otherwise made a bad decision. The thing is, people do waste money and make bad decisions. I do. You do. We all do. We just don't like being reminded of that.

So, rather than tell you that you made a bad decision about your network, let me tell you a good decision I made about mine. Oh, and if your network is working just fine and you have no issues with your streaming devices, then you made a good decision. Working is the goal, and if it works, you met the goal. You did good.

However, I had network issues that it took me a while to solve. Actually, I didn't have the issues. My mother had the issues.

Her house was built in the 1950s. And the 1960s. And the 1970s. You see, it was expanded and added on to many times over the years, and in none of that time was the thought of its 21st century layout and accounting for wireless networks considered. In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, all that was science fiction.

However, the 21st century did roll around and my mother had network issues. There were spots in rooms where one person was able to use a laptop on her wireless network, and in the same room, sitting in the next chair, another person couldn't keep a stable connection. The house, with it's weird wiring and rewiring and former outside walls that are now on the inside, was a wireless network nightmare.

So, how did I fix it? Let me tell you what didn't work first.

I got a bigger, more powerful wireless router (okay, access point, but it was all in one and we're calling it a router). That helped a little, but only a little. There were still some dead spots.

WiFi extenders were tried. They didn't really work. Maybe it was the location of them, but we never noticed a continued improvement.

We thought about running network cables and connecting additional hotspots, but didn't.

Finally, I replaced her network with a Google WiFi network. That cost a little bit of money because a set of three was around $300 on sale. And, as it turned out, three wasn't enough. There are now seven of those in that house. But, you know what? There's good network connectivity in every room.

Google WiFi was the one I tried, and it worked. This isn't to say you must get Google WiFi devices to make your network run properly. Rather, it's a suggestion that a mesh network, such as Google WiFi, Amazon Eero, Netgear Orbi, or one of any other such may be the way to go if you are having issues.

How well does it work. During her last year or so, the only time she ever mentioned the network was when I asked. She always responded that she hadn't thought about it because it simply worked. And, when family came over, there were no more questions or complaints about her wireless network.

In my and my family's experience, a mesh network works well. To my mother, she said "It just works." And it made her Streaming Life much simpler and easier.

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