I'm one cheap dude! Aaron use to say I was one of the most frugal guys he knows, but I always argue that he is more so than me!
As I table that argument, I have to admit that I'm one cheap guy when it comes to my electronics. To give you an example, I usually keep my PCs for 5+ years before refreshing.
To add to Aaron's case even more I have to admit something. I have a home router that is 11+ years old. Yep it is true. I feel like I've admitted that I've been doing drugs or abusing alcohol. :) Over the last month I was having a lot of problems with streaming videos and seeing my network signal disconnect. It's at this point that I realized I needed to take inventory of what was all being serviced by my home network. Here is my exhaustive list:
- Home Desktop
- New Lenovo Laptop
- Ooma Telo Home Phone
- Nest Thermostat
- Republic Wireless Cell Phone
- iPhone 6
- Amazon Fire Tablet
- iPAD Mini
- Amazon Firestick (streaming video and ESPN)
- Google Chromecast
Wifi and Router Troubleshooting Steps
After I started compiling a list of all my devices it became evident that my wireless and home network needs have changed significantly in the last 11 years! It is no wonder that I was having problems with connectivity and keeping a consistent reliable connection. On top of that, my whole family was beginning to question IT capabilities and if I allowed this same type of unreliable service at my day job!HA! For the prideful IT guy this had to change and quick!
So what did I do next? Well, here are the steps that I took to troubleshoot where the problem was with my home wifi network or my internet connection.
- Tax your wifi/internet – stream as many videos and download a bunch of files to begin your test
- Bring up a command prompt – go to start run and type “CMD”
- Type “ipconfig /all” – note your gateway and DNS server addresses. More than likely these addresses are the same, because your home router is 192.168.0.1. Take note of this address.
- Ping your gateway – now that you know your gateway, then you'll need to run a “ping 192.168.0.1 -t“. This will do a constant ping on your gateway to see how your connectivity is from your wireless devices (assuming you are using a wifi connection). If you are experiencing any connectivity problems, then you'll see some see high “ms” (milisecond) latency (>30ms) and in some cases dropped packets. This is a good indication that your wifi connection is saturated and your latency isn't between you and your internet provider.
- Find out your real DNS server – if your DNS entry is something like 192.168.x.x, then this will require you to log into your wifi router and see what address it has received from your ISP.
- Ping your DNS server or google.com – if you've pinged your gateway and haven't dropped packets or had high latency, then you can move to troubleshooting your ISP. Ping your DNS server, which is hosted by your ISP. This will be your first local connection from your home to your ISP. Once you've pinged your DNS server, then ping google.com, and you'll see a little higher latency.
So, once you've completed these troubleshooting steps (see the above images), then you'll be able to tell if the problems you are having is with your wifi router or with your download speed from your ISP. If you are like me, then more than likely your wifi router is antiquated or is your range of your router is a low range router.
First off, you need to ask yourself:
- Do I want to replace both my wifi router and my cable/DSL modem at the same time?
- Do I just want to replace my wifi router?
In my situation, my 11 year old wifi & DSL router were combined into one device. DSL was coming into my modem, and I was servicing my whole home off a A/B/G router and my Ooma home phone was hung off the ethernet port on the back of the modem.
As I researched whether to buy a combined DSL/Wifi router (like my old one) or just a new wifi router, I soon saw that a combine modem/wifi router was extremely expensive compared to just buying a wifi router. I opted for purchasing just a N600 Dual Band Router, which was a upgrade from my existing single band G router that had an extremely low range. The single band G router presented a problem for my home, because I have three floors to my home and my wifi router is one my top floor. I had a lot of problems streaming Amazon Prime and Google Chromecast in my basement both because of the range and the fact that my wifi router was single band.
So, in your situation look at buying a router that is least dual band and has a good range on the wifi connections. If you just focus on buying a dual band or higher wifi router, then more than likely this will resolve a lot of your dropped packets or latency. If you decide to buy a combine modem/router, then realize that if you router fails then you are creating a single point of failure in your home infrastructure. In addition, if you decide to change from DSL or Cable, then you haven't pigeon-holed yourself into a router that won't work with your new ISP. Basically, it gives you a lot more flexibility in future internet changes.
These are just a few of my troubleshooting techniques I took to troubleshoot my wireless connection problems. I'd love to hear from some of you on if you are having problems with your home internet? Has your problems grown in the last five years? Have you added a lot of new / high demand devices like me? Let a comment below and let me know if you are having similar problems.
Hopefully the above techniques will help you troubleshoot your home wife/router problems. With that I leave you one of my favorite IT spoof videos that was published by The Onion a few years ago! Enjoy!