Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

With more and more computers in the home and in small businesses, networking them all together is both an important fact of day to day usage, and an often complex and frustrating source of problems.

Can I monitor, or control, the bandwidth used on my home network?

It's possible, even easy, to monitor the amount of bandwidth a computer is using. It's much more difficult to control.

Can I network two PCs without network cards?

Networking without network cards is a reverse hack. You'll be much more successful in the long run using established networking equipment.

Can a router be infected with malware?

It's rare for a router to be infected with malware. More commonly, viruses and spyware will infect the computer and then make changes to the router configuration.

Do I need a specific type of Ethernet card to connect to the internet through my DSL modem?

An Ethernet card to connect an older computer to DSL needs the right connectors. You may be able to find one secondhand.

Does WPA2 wireless access control pre-empt MAC address filtering?

WPA2 and MAC address filtering offer security to a home network. For ease of use, however, WPA2 is probably enough.

Does a router stop viruses?

A router is an important tool in staying safe when connected to the internet. A router will stop certain types of viruses and malware ... but not all.

Does sharing a router make me vulnerable to those I share with?

Being on the same local network as another machine implies a certain level of trust. Without that trust, additional security steps are called for.

How can I prevent neighbors from accessing the open WiFi hotspot I provide to my customers?

Preventing neighbors from accessing a WiFi hotspot with a posted password will be a little tricky. There is one solution that many motels use.

How do I confirm security on my ISP-provided wireless modem?

Securing your router is important. You may need to take an Ask Leo! checklist to your internet provider to insure you are properly protected.

How do I determine my router's IP address?

Your router is a fundamental part of your internet connection. You can typically configure settings, but you first need to know its local IP address.

How do I get my wireless access point to work with my existing router?

Adding a wireless access point can be a little frustrating if you're behind a router and the access point is also trying to be a router.

How do I know if I'm behind a NAT router?

NAT routers are a fundamental way to share an internet connection while protecting you at the same time. You may already have one. It's easy to check.

How do I maximize data transfer speed on my LAN?

Network performance tuning can be a black art but some simple decisions and configurations can easily set you up with a reasonably fast network.

How do I protect myself from my children?

It's common to have computers that are used for sensitive things sharing a network with less trustworthy users. Understanding protection is important.

How do I protect users on my network from each other?

Be it tenants or children, it's common to have machines on your network that you can't trust. A secure solution involves setting up another network.

How do I reset my router's password?

Losing your router's administrative password will prevent you from managing and securing it properly. I'll look at the general process to regain access.

How do I safely attach a wireless device that doesn't support encryption?

Adding a wireless device without encryption to your network is tricky. There are approaches, but the best method is to get a device that supports encryption.

How do I set up a home network without internet?

You don't need to be connected to the internet in order to network your home computers. An unconnected network is put together in much the same way.

How do I share files on my Windows 7 machine with my Windows XP machine?

Windows networking is difficult, to put it mildly. I'll walk through setting up a share and connecting to it, and explain why it's not terribly secure.

How should I protect my network and computers from my guests?

Whenever you connect a computer you don't control to your home network you could be putting your computers at risk. I'll describe how I deal with it.

How should I share my home network with a visitor?

When hosting guest in your home it's common to allow them to access your internet connection. There are serious risks depending on your level of trust.

I have one machine on my network that when hogs all the bandwidth when it's on. Any ideas?

A malfunctioning network card could easily clog or cause other problems on a network.

If my router keeps losing connectivity does that mean I'm being hacked?

Regularly losing internet connectivity does not indicate that your router is being hacked. Start by looking at connectivity issues.

Is it possible combine 2 different internet connections from 2 different ISPs?

Connecting two different internet connections is technically possible, but not easily and not likely to accomplish what you have in mind.

Is it safe to share my internet connection with my neighbor?

Giving a neighbor temporary internet access seems like a neighborly thing to do. Before you do it, you should understand the risks of sharing your internet.

Securing Your Router

Securing your router is important to keep your network and your machines safe. I'll show you a few of the settings using my router as an example.

Should I change my router's password, and if so, how often?

Routers typically require a login and password for configuration that comes set to a factory default. Should you change it? Yes. How often? It depends.

Should I turn off my wireless access point if I don't use it?

Wireless routers contain both a router and a wireless access point. I'll review your options if you're not planning on using the wireless component.

What is a VPN?

A VPN or Virtual Private Network is a way to security connect with machines elsewhere or to securely connect to the internet from an unsecure location.

What kind of router do I need?

A router is a router is ... actually, there are several different kinds of routers that are used in different situations. I'll review the most common.

What password should I change on my router for security?

Routers have several usernames and passwords. One is very important to change for network security.

What's a T1 line, and how do I connect to it?

T1 lines are among the oldest of data technologies in use. They're fast, reliable and a tad expensive. We'll look at how they compare to alternatives.

What's the difference between a router, a wireless router and a wireless access point?

Unfortunately, terminology has become quite confused around routers and access points, I'll describe each, how they relate, and why differences matter.

Why do I have problems accessing files and folders on my network?

Network problems can be caused by a number of things in either software or hardware. Fixing it may require a hands-on technician.

Why do my network drives disconnect when my computer goes into a power-saving mode?

Power mode settings may disconnect network drives when the computer goes into standby or hibernate. Depending on your drivers, there may be available adjustments.