Communication for 2017

What sort of router do you need for best performance? Most inteRnet Service Providers (ISPs) will give you what you need to get online when you sign up ­ and many of these come with Wi-Fi built-in, making it easy for you to shuttle files around your home wirelessly. The problem is that some of these freebie modem routers offer only basic functionality and may not always work happily with your Apple devices ­ certain features such as Back To My Mac may not work as expected, for example and the modem may not support the faster 802.11ac protocol that the latest Macs and iOS devices are capable of. 802.11ac routers (such as the Linksys EA7500 Max-Stream AC1900, $200) also have more antennae to allow something called Beamforming, which enables your router to actively direct your Wi-Fi signals through walls and obstacles ­ making it more likely that you’ll be able to get a reliable and robust Wi-Fi connection. The latest AirPort Extreme is a great example. It contains six internal antennae ­ three for the 2.4GHz band and three for the 5GHz band, both of which are broadcast simultaneously so your devices are always able to latch on to the best one. Most thirdparty routers use external antennae for the same job. Another thing to consider is how many people in your home or office actually need Wi-Fi access and whether you want to be able to share other devices such as a printer via a USB port.

One of the best things you can do to speed up your network is to make sure your base station is using the fastest possible connection speed. If you own the latest 802.11ac AirPort Extreme and a suitable Mac (most 2013 or newer models) or iOS device (at least an iPhone 6, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4 or an iPad Pro), then 802.11ac radio mode offers the best mixture of speed for newer devices that connect at 5GHz and backwards compatibility for older ones in the 2.4GHz band. With an older 802.11n model, switching it to 5GHz will give you the fastest data speeds, but not all of your devices may work with that, which is an issue if the base station doesn’t do simultaneous dual-band broadcast. You can switch modes in AirPort Utility > Wireless > Wireless Options. You should also secure your network by employing Wireless Protected Access (WPA), which offers 128-bit encryption. Most routers now offer WPA2 Personal and WPA2 Enterprise security, enabling you to set passwords between

8 and 63 characters in length. You should aim to make your password as long as possible and contain a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and even symbols. If you enter the network’s password on an Apple devide that’s connected to your iCloud Keychain, the password will sync to others that use the keychain, so you’ll only need to enter it once. While hiding your network’s name from broadcast might make it seem more secure, its presence is still evident to a knowledgable sniffer. Apple’s Wireless Diagnostics tool also advises that it can cause performance and reliability issues for devices. Finally, if your wireless network has trouble reaching areas of your home, you can extend its range using another AirPort Extreme or an AirPort Express. Open AirPort Utility, select the device you want to use to extend your wireless network, then select Network Mode > Extend a Wireless Network.