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Get More Performance from Your Router

There are three kinds of Internet users: 1) those who are up to speed on the networking technology that connects us to the Internet and the world; 2) those who let their spouse, friends or neighbors set up and fix their home networks for them at home; and 3) the rest of us who are in between.

We have a familiarity with the hardware and software that connects us to the Internet, but we're not experts. So a little more knowledge can go a long way to help you get more from the technology you already have.

Your router's potential.

As you probably know, your router works with your modem and your computer's networking system to connect you to the Internet. But did you know it can help you do more than that? Read on for a few ideas we hope you'll find helpful.

You can create a network...for guests.

A lot of routers give you the option of setting up a network for guests in your home. In this sense, "guest" means someone who wouldn't normally have access to your network and who wasn't initially set up as a network user.

How would you tell the difference? Someone who is an authorized user has access to your network password (do you remember yours?). A visitor who is using the "guest network" doesn't need a password, but some router companies let you set up a password.

Is your guest network up and running?

There's a simple way you can check: Just look at your computer's networking system to see the wireless networks that are available to you. Let's say your home's wireless network is named "Homer." When you check available networks (from any Internet-enabled laptop, iPad/tablet or smartphone), you should see the list and see that you're connected to "Homer." But you might also see a network named "Homer Guest." That's means the guest network is available.

Boost your router's range.

Nothing is more frustrating than not getting your network signal, or having to wait for it. A lot of times it's not your connection—it's your router's range. Many people don't realize that walls and cabinets can block the signal. (It is, after all, a radio wave.) And a lot of times, simply repositioning the router in a different room or moving it to a central location in your home or office can help. But there's another step you can take: You can buy a "repeater."

A repeater, which you can buy for less than $100, is designed to work with your router and expand your signal's range, helping it reach a greater area in your home or office. The repeater should be placed between your router and the areas that need better coverage. If you take steps to make sure there are no obstacles between the router and the repeater, as well as the repeater and the other rooms, you should get the performance you want (and decrease the amount of complaining from others in your house!). In fact, you'll be a hero.

Print wirelessly.

This is one feature many people don't take advantage of, simply because they're familiar with plugging directly in to a printer not far away. But, if you have a printer with wireless capacity, life is about to get easier. When you're about to print, first check your available wireless networks. If you see your printer's "name/model" listed, click on that network.

None of these steps are too difficult to implement, so you should be able to use one or all of them to generate more productivity from your router.

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