Overview

When working from home, you are placing more of a strain on your network, which sometimes exposes issues which may have been there all along. There is nothing you can do about the rest of the internet, but by stabilizing your home network can often help a lot towards stabilizing your entire network connection.  Some of these tips might cost some money, but others are either minimal cost or free.

Internet Provider

Check with your internet provider, or ask neighbors what service they use.  Changing Internet Providers might be an option - some are better than others. Sometimes Internet providers offer deals for upgrading at the same price for 6 months or a year. This is especially true if you have an "older" internet connection. You might be paying for a ten year old service when current speeds are an order of magnitude different at sometimes the same price. 

Open Wireless

Try to minimize "open wireless" networks at hotels and coffee shops. If you need to use an open wireless network, ask where the Wifi access point is, so you can get as close as possible to the device. Remember, these are often unsafe networks. You should use VPN to secure open wireless connections whenever possible.

Home Network Infrastructure

Cable modem / router

Your modem and router, sometimes one device, are the key to a good service.

  • Keep cool - if you notice slowness or dropping, especially on hot days or afternoons, consider pointing a very small fan directly at your device(s). They can be very small and quiet, just so there’s air movement.  Make sure to keep sunshine off of network equipment too.

  • Old routers might need upgrading to a new router, especially if you rely on wireless. Wireless technology is changing, with faster and faster speeds.

  • If your modem and router are at one end of your residence, it might be possible to move it to a different or more central location, making your wifi connection closer to your home workstation.

Wired

Wired connections will almost always be faster than wireless, but sometimes it isn’t easy to get a cable to where you want to be.

  • If you can plug into your network, that is usually ideal. Contact ITS for a longer ethernet cable, but make sure you don’t create a trip hazard. If you are overseas, or want to purchase a cable, ask for a “Cat 6 ethernet cable”. 

  • Note that many newer computers need an additional adaptor to connect to a ethernet network, such as a USB-to-ethernet adaptor or a USB-C-to-ethernet adaptor.

  • If your computer does not have an ethernet jack, contact ITS, but make sure to describe your computer with both make and model.

Wireless

WiFi is freedom, but it can come at a cost. Wifi is radio waves, but they lose power through each obstacle they pass through, like a wall or ceiling.

Move as close as you can to the router.