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In 2018, there were roughly eight internet-connected devices for every person in the U.S., according to Cisco. That may seem like too many, but when you consider that most people’s home network setup has a smartphone, a computer and/or laptop, a gaming system, a smart TV, a smartwatch and a few smart home devices, it’s not really a stretch after all.
Eight (or more) devices is a lot for a WiFi network to support, though, and if you have multiple people living in your home and operating a half-dozen devices of their own, you’re definitely going to need a strong, efficient network to support everyone’s internet usage. Whether you’re part of a family of media streamers, work-from-home telecommuters or turning your house into an entertainment hub, you need a network — and the accompanying smart home connections — that can support your lifestyle.
Someone is streaming a movie, someone is playing video games and someone else is doing homework online. If you’ve got a partner and kids, this is probably a normal day in your household — and if your home network setup isn’t strong enough, someone is going to experience slow speeds or dropped connections.
There are a few ways you can enhance your home network setup to support all of your family’s devices and more. First, you’ll want to consider your current internet provider and plan. Certain providers are known for speedy connections, and most companies offer different bandwidth tiers. Higher bandwidth will allow your family to run more devices at once without sacrificing quality or speed. Before altering your network, use an online bandwidth calculator to estimate how much you’ll need.
If you have a large house, you may also want to consider a mesh WiFi system, which includes multiple nodes placed throughout your home. These systems ensure more consistent internet coverage throughout the home, even those spaces that are far from the main router. Some popular options include the eero Pro, the TP-Link Deco and Google Wifi. These optimized devices help your family be more eco-friendly, too, as they streamline network and energy usage. Since U.S. data centers used 1.8% of the nation’s energy consumption and contributed 2% of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 alone, the Green Business Bureau reported, making your network more sustainable is key to doing your part.
Oh, and don’t forget parental controls, especially if you have younger children. Parental controls help you monitor your kids’ internet usage and limit the amount of bandwidth they’re able to take up. Many modern routers come with built-in parental controls, but there are also add-on devices like Circle that allow you to set time and site limits on all your family’s devices, review internet usage and more.
Your network priorities might be a little different if you work from home. You’ll not only need fast speed and high bandwidth to support calls and video conferences, but you’ll also need to put security measures in place to protect your business assets, such as your work email account, your business passwords and your business data.
To this end, it’s key to ensure every device connected to your home network has strong credentials and uses security features like two-factor authentication. Computers and phones should have security software installed, and you may also want to invest in a network protection device like the Bitdefender BOX.
If you or your family regularly streams TV shows, videos and more, you’ll need a network that can keep up with this activity. Netflix recommends 5 megabits per second of bandwidth to stream high-definition content, but that number can quickly increase as you add more streamers or devices to the network. If you enjoy streaming TV while your partner listens to music via a smart home entertainment device and your kids play video games with friends on the internet, you’re definitely going to need a bigger network.
A surefire way to boost your streaming abilities is to upgrade your router. The routers provided by internet companies are often subpar — you’ll get better speed and range with a router from a reputable brand like TP-Link. Another option is to simply connect your streaming devices to your router via Ethernet cables, as this provides a more reliable connection than WiFi.
When you’re thinking about your home network setup, it’s important to consider your family’s lifestyle and internet habits. When you match your home network to your family’s needs, everyone will be happier and more productive.