Articles in Category: Networking

Network connectivity and configurations, protocols and problems, articles relating to how computers connect.

How Do I Use an Open Wi-Fi Hotspot Safely?

Open Wi-Fi hotspots at coffee shops and other public places are opportunities for hackers. I’ll review how to stay safe.

Do I Need a Firewall for My Home Network?

A firewall is a critical component of keeping your machine safe on the internet. There are two basic types, but which is right for you?

What Can People Tell from My IP Address?

People can tell very little from your IP address. For example, they cannot tell who or where you are. How much they can tell varies a great deal.

Why is My Wi-Fi Speed Slower than Ethernet? Why You Really Want that Wired Connection

Wired speeds are almost always faster than wireless. I’ll review why and what you can do. Spoiler: “what you can do” usually involves a cable.

5 Steps to Better Wi-Fi In Your House – Improving Your Wireless Connection

Wi-Fi has only become more important as more devices and online activities become essential at home. I’ll review some of the things to investigate as you search for better Wi-Fi.

Can My ISP See I’m Using a VPN or a Proxy?

If you want to hide your IP address, it’s important to understand the terminology so you get the results you want.

Does a Wi-Fi Log-in Page Mean It’s Secure?

If you connect to an open Wi-Fi hotspot without a password and can see anything at all, it’s not a secure connection.

How Does a VPN Protect Me?

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a fully encrypted, private internet connection via a VPN provider. I’ll look at what protection it offers.

How Do I Find the DNS Server Used By My PC?

How to quickly find the DNS servers used by Windows. They’re typically specified by your ISP, but I’ll also discuss why you might change your DNS servers.

Why Can’t I Connect with a 169.254 IP Address?

When your computer can’t get an IP address any other way, it assigns itself a 169.254 IP address. It’s a sure sign of a problem.

What is Bandwidth as It Applies to My Computer?

Bandwidth, in computers and online, is all about speed. Better bandwidth means faster transfers. I’ll use a common metaphor to make it a little more real.

How To Trace an IP Address: Myth Versus Reality

Thanks to popular media, many people expect much more from an IP address than is practically available. I’ll separate myth from fact.

How Should I Set Up My Home Network?

A home network allows you to share a single internet connection, as well as data and devices, between multiple devices. I’ll review the basics components of a home network and some steps to take as your network grows.

8 Steps to a Secure Router

Your router is your first line of defense against malicious attacks from the internet. But do you have a secure router? I’ll review the important settings.

Can I Get Someone’s Name and Address from Their IP Address?

While getting someone’s name and address from their IP address is technically possible, it’s also typically difficult and requires law enforcement.

Who Is the Administrator of my Home Network?

Some Windows messages indicate something was set by your network administrator. That’s probably you, even if you didn’t do it.

Can My ISP See I’m Using a VPN?

VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) have characteristics that are visible to your ISP. I’ll discuss what they can and cannot see.

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, understand the risks of sharing your internet.

Your Router’s Two IP Addresses

Every router has at least two IP addresses. It’s a characteristic of how routers do their jobs.

Why Does My Network Not Work After Resuming from Standby?

Network failures after standby remain common, particularly in older machines. There are a couple of things to try.

Networking Sucks

After all this time, networking computers remains out of the reach of the average user, and that’s really frustrating.

Is Mobile Broadband More Secure than Wi-Fi?

Mobile broadband is a popular internet connection alternative. As with any connection, it’s important to understand the security ramifications and tradeoffs.

How Do I Change the DNS Used By My Computer?

Sometimes using a DNS service other than that provided by your ISP makes sense. I’ll show you how to make the change.

Is it OK to Use this Random Wireless Network I Just Found?

When scanning for wireless connections, you may find several that are unknown, yet appear open and available. Using them is risky. Very risky.

What the “KRACK attacks” mean to you

A vulnerability has been discovered in a critical wireless security protocol. I’ll discuss whether you should worry and what steps you should take.

How Do I Protect Myself from Other Computers on My Local Network?

Many households have computers used for sensitive things sharing a network with less trustworthy users. Here’s one method for in-home protection.

How Do I Recover a Wi-Fi Password When I’m Not Connected?

Even if you’re nowhere near a network you’ve connected to in the past, you can still recover the Wi-Fi password from Windows.

Recover a Remembered Wi-Fi Password

If you forget your network’s Wi-Fi password, but you’re still connected, Windows can remind you what it is.

How Do I Block Neighboring Wireless Networks?

Accidentally connecting to someone’s nearby wireless network can be a serious security risk. We’ll look at some steps to prevent it.

When I Visit a Web Site, Can the Server Identify Me?

Minimally, web servers get your IP address when you visit. Whether or not that or other information can actually be used to identify you, specifically, depends on a lot of things.

Extending Your Network With A Wireless Access Point

Adding a wireless access point to extend your network’s range can be confusing. Many routers come with wireless capability, but you only need one router.

Is an Outbound Firewall Needed?

An outbound firewall will alert you to suspicious connections. The biggest problem? If correct, it’s too late.

What’s the Difference Between a MAC Address and an IP Address?

A MAC address and your IP address are both key components to networking, but they serve different purposes, and are visible in very different ways.

Can a Virus Spread Over a Local Network?

Windows Firewall will protect your machine from other computers that share
the “safe side” of the router.

What Is “Ping”, and What Does Its Output Tell Me?

Ping is one of the oldest diagnostic tools. It simply validates connectivity from point A to point B, and in doing so provides additional useful information.

What Is Peer-to-Peer File Sharing, and Is It Legit?

Peer-to-peer file-sharing programs have a bad reputation because of the content they’re often used to download. But the technology is quite legal and useful for legitimate purposes.

Can a MAC address be traced?

A MAC address can easily be traced for as far as it travels. The problem is, a MAC address doesn’t travel far enough to be useful.

How do I turn off Wi-Fi Sense (and what is it?)

Wi-Fi Sense, a new feature in Windows 10, is designed to make connecting to wireless networks easier. You’ll probably want to turn off Wi-Fi Sense for privacy.

What Is a “Subnet Mask”?

A subnet mask is a way of telling your computer or router what network addresses are local and which are remote.

How Do I Monitor Network Activity on My Windows Machine?

Windows 7 and 8 have a useful utility to monitor network activity. You can use it to find out a lot about what your computer is doing online.

Does Having a Publicly Visible Wi-Fi Password Add Security Compared to an Open Wi-Fi Hotspot?

Using a password protected WPA2 hotspot is a minor inconvenience for a very significant level of additional security. I’ll explain…

Finding the Owner of an IP Address

While you cannot find the specific owner of an IP address, I’ll look at a few tools to see what IP-related information you can get.

Should I Worry about Heartbleed Affecting My Router?

Heartbleed did not affect all versions of open SSL. So first we should check if we even need to worry.

I’m Using Someone Else’s Internet Connection – Am I at Risk?

Without the proper security others will be able to access your computer and your files, and even watch what you do online. Fortunately, setting up basic security is easy.

How Do I Get My Windows Machines to Network with each Other?

Home networking can be very difficult. But I have a little trick that works easily for me.

How can I tell what is being downloaded to my computer?

Are you finding mysterious downloads coming into your computer? It may be nothing sinister. But on the other hand… we’d better check the source.

Does visiting a search-engine cached page prevent the original site from noting my visit?

Even a cached version of a website could send information about you back to the original server. The thing is that we just don’t (and can’t) know.

What’s an open port?

With one exception, having an open port is not dangerous. But the way that ports work is interesting!

Why am I getting limited connectivity at my local open wifi hotspot?

When you are connected to a wireless network, but cannot get to the internet, it’s because an IP address has not been assigned to you. So how do you fix that?

Is My Router Acting as a DNS Server?

Some smart routers can act as a local DNS servers in an attempt to speed things up.