If only the tilting calendar to a new year erased our technical problems. There’s a lot you can do to make your digital life easier in 2023.
Start by emptying your inbox. You deserve to hit zero at least once. Tap or click the quick way I do it.
Tired of tech companies invading your privacy? Take action! Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook always listen unless you change these settings.
You don’t need to struggle through yet another year of bad Wi-Fi. These simple, fixable errors could be the reason your connection stinks.
Start your day with technology now.
1. You let profiteers use your network
Do you know exactly which devices are using your connection? If your Wi-Fi is not password protected, you need to fix this problem. Tap or click here for instructions on finding and changing your router password.
Or your password is easy to guess and someone is laughing at your internet connection.
On a Windows PC, Wireless Network Watcher scans your network and tells you the IP address, MAC address, name and manufacturer of the computers, tablets and smartphones it detects on your network.
As soon as you start Wireless Network Watcher, you will see all detected devices on the list. You should be able to recognize connected devices. For example, you may see Apple and Amazon Technologies devices when using an iPhone and Amazon Echo.
On a Mac, Who’s on my Wi-Fi will show you who’s accessing your Wi-Fi. You’ll need to do a little investigation to find out some of the connected devices. Look for the description and the manufacturers.
Don’t panic if you don’t recognize a device. Look around to see which devices, TVs, tablets, laptops and smartphones are accessing Wi-Fi.
Read the list to make sure you recognize everything. You know someone is logged in without permission if you see devices you don’t recognize.
2. Your router is in the wrong place
Using a years old router? This could cripple your connection and put your security at risk. Tap or click here to see the best routers for your home or apartment.
Then there is the question of where to place your router. Don’t stick it on the floor in a closet or away from where most internet usage occurs.
Try placing your router near the center of the room for the fastest speeds. It would be best if you also put it as high as possible, on a shelf or even attached to the wall. If your router has antennas, point them in different directions.
Other devices can also impact your router. Keep it away from cordless phones, Bluetooth speakers, microwave ovens and baby monitors.
3. You’re not paying enough for bandwidth
You might not need blazing internet speeds depending on what you do at home. You’ll be fine with lower speeds if you’re streaming content on a single device and mostly checking email and social media from your phone.
If your home is full of smart, connected devices, you need enough bandwidth to support them.
Here are some general guidelines for getting started:
• If you only have a few devices connected to your Wi-Fi and you use your network primarily for web browsing, a plan with 10 Mbps should suffice.
• If you watch a lot of videos and download tons of media, 25 Mbps should be fine for you.
• For a lot of high-quality online streaming and gaming, you’ll need 100 Mbps or more.
• You’ll do well with 500 Mbps for simultaneous streaming, online gaming and downloading on many devices.
Keep an eye on your data cap. Your ISP can throttle your speed or even charge you for going over the cap if you go over it.
Short of money? Try these proven strategies to lower your internet, cable and streaming bills.
4. You never change channels
Switching to a different channel for your router is an easy tweak to boost your speed. This step is beneficial if you are tuned to that 2.4GHz frequency. Switching from one channel to a less crowded channel can help speed things up.
Try using a Wi-Fi scanner to check the optimal 2.4 GHz channel for your region or the least used channel.
For Macs, Apple provides the free Wireless Diagnostics tool. hold it Options key by clicking on the wifi icon on the right side of the menu bar, then choose Open wireless diagnostics.
For Windows, download NetSpot Wi-Fi Analyzer. Similar to the Mac’s scan tool, this app will instantly give you information about Wi-Fi signals in your area, including the channels they’re using.
Tap or click here for direct download links to other WiFi analyzer apps for iPhone or Android.
5. Kids download a bunch of game updates and videos
When you’re trying to join a video call for work, the last thing you want is for your child to download a colossal game update from the next room. It consumes a lot of bandwidth and both of you will be frustrated.
To make things smoother, schedule updates and big downloads for 1 a.m. when everyone is or should be asleep.
Need help involving children in the technical rules? I can help. Tap or click to download my technical contract that parents and children must sign.
Keep your technological know-how
My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today”. It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from across the country. Look for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, click the link below for a recent episode.
PODCAST CHOICE: Update your iPhone, find hidden spy cameras, saving tips from Amazon
Supreme Court tackles social media, why take down Kaspersky, Facebook issues, unmanned air taxis, worst texting scams and life-saving technologies. Plus, how to make sure Amazon Alexa isn’t recording everything you say and find hidden spy cameras.
Check out my “Kim Komando Today” podcast on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcast player.
Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando”.
Discover all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For his daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit his website at Komando.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.