How can I determine the overall health of my router, wifi signal etc. in my home?

I'm a developer by trade, but when it comes to any kind of networking issue, I'm a pig on roller skates. Here's my dilemma:

I'm considering eliminating my TV cable service and making my television viewing entirely Netflix etc. In other words, I want to go with either the Amazon Fire Stick or Apple TV. Both of which require solid, consistent internet service.

At this point, my WiFi is not especially good. By that I mean, sometimes when you go to access Netflix, you'll have to restart the Wii in order to properly connect. Another example would this morning I was ordering some tickets and suddenly, the internet quit. By that I mean the connection was interrupted.

First off, how do I test the quality of my signal? I've read some about some apps that I can download such as "Network Analyzer Pro" and others. What do I need? What do they do and what conclusions can I draw from their readouts? However obvious those questions may be, what I'm wanting to determine is whether or not these apps will tell me whether or not I need a new router.

Secondly, what is your take on the Amazon Stick vs Apple TV?

Finally, do I need either of those devices if I purchase a smart TV?

Bottom line: How do I diagnose my WiFi and what's the best approach to take if I want to eliminate cable and pursue a purely internet based programming for my TV viewing?

Thanks!
Bruce GustPHP DeveloperAsked:
Who is Participating?

[Product update] Infrastructure Analysis Tool is now available with Business Accounts.Learn More

x
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

RaminTechnical AdvisorCommented:
Download and Install free Acrylic Wifi Scanner on your laptop and let it scan for 10 minutes,  Screenshot the screen and post it here,
Please clear/ remove your MAC address from that Picture for security reasons.
https://www.acrylicwifi.com/en/wlan-software/wlan-scanner-acrylic-wifi-free/
0
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You do need to understand the signal level. Get inSSider 4 to do this (MetaGeek Software). This is inexpensive and essential.

Second, what kind of Wi-Fi Router do you have?  I use Cisco Wi-Fi routers to provide strong signal and good strength.
0
Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
The first thing to do, the Very first thing, is to find out how many other wireless networks are in your area.  I use Nirsoft's WirelessNetView to do that.  http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/wireless_network_view.html

I can have up to 79 other wireless networks here in my apartment.  There aren't 79 wireless channels so some of them are using the same channel as I am.  If you have a lot of other networks where you are, it is very difficult to determine how reliable your router is.  I only have wireless for test purposes.  I use wired connections for all my computers to avoid interference problems.
2
Check Out How Miercom Evaluates Wi-Fi Security!

It's not just about Wi-Fi connectivity anymore. A wireless security breach can cost your business large amounts of time, trouble, and expense. Plus, hear first-hand from Miercom on how WatchGuard's Wi-Fi security stacks up against the competition plus a LIVE demo!

JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
David makes a good point if you suffer from congestion.

I have a Cisco 134 AC router that mates with my AC Wi-Fi card. I use that all the time, and even though there is other Wi-Fi about, I do not get any interference.
0
Brian EdwardsSystems EngineerCommented:
I have used Inssider to check my WiFi signal and it highlighted a lot of WiFi congestion from my neighbours WiFi routers.
0
masnrockCommented:
Dave brings up excellent points about congestion. That is a very important thing to consider.

As I don't know how things are laid out are your place, but I would recommend providing a wired connection whenever possible. This totally avoids the situation of wireless interference, etc. Is your TV near the router? (Powerline products could be an option, but you're still going to want to have the wireless side as clean as possible for other reasons anyway) As for wireless, you're want to be sure to have a 5 GHz network running, as this dramatically decreases the probability of issues.

Secondly, what is your take on the Amazon Stick vs Apple TV?
Either one should work fine. However, part of it also depends on what content you intend to subscribe to. Both would do Netflix without issue. Roku would be another option worth at least considering. The major services are going to have their apps for a lot of the bigger platforms. Upside to the Fire Stick versus the others is portability. Its downside is only being able to connect via wireless (if the wireless signal is solid, this isn't going to be a hindrance).

Finally, do I need either of those devices if I purchase a smart TV?
Again, this depends what you're subscribing to. However, as long as an app is available on your TV, the the answer is no. For example, I utilize Prime and Netflix on my Samsung smart TV (I just got rid of Hulu recently, but that worked fine as well).
0
Bruce GustPHP DeveloperAuthor Commented:
Gentlemen!

Thanks for hanging with me on this - I apologize for dragging my feet.

I should tell you, I'm on a Mac. Some of the wireless assessment tools that were recommended were Windows, however...

Here's a snap of my "available" wireless friends:

screenshot of available wireless networks
It would seem I'm not short of options. There was a mention of a router dynamic where you could specifically target your network. How would I go about doing that?

Secondly, here's a picture of my router:

snapshot of router
I had understood that I might be able to download firmware for the router that might help in its performance. What do y'all think about that?

Again, thanks for your feedback!
0
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You should always keep router firmware up to date. TP Link Support will have the latest firmware.

Then we gave you ways for you to assess surrounding Wi Fi points
0
Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
You show 10 networks that you are receiving at "full strength".  That is practically the definition of interference.  It may be difficult to maintain a good connection under that condition.  At least you don't have 79 possible channels like I do here.!
0
Bruce GustPHP DeveloperAuthor Commented:
Gentlemen! The thing that strikes me as the most obvious "hole" is the number of WIFI connections my network is vying for. Therefore, looking for a router that mates specifically with my WIFI card is the approach I want to take.

John, I went and "googled" CISCO 134 AC Router and couldn't find anything. What, specifically, is the product I'm looking for. And, how do I ensure that my Mac(s) is pairing with my network in a way that weeds out what would otherwise be significant interference?
0
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
This is the Cisco router I am using right now.

https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/routers/rv134w-vdsl2-wireless-ac-vpn-router/index.html

See if that is what you might be looking for.
0

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
Bruce GustPHP DeveloperAuthor Commented:
Perfect!

And John, what is it about this router that allows you to specifically target your wireless network in a way where it's not slowed down by the number of other wireless networks that might be in the area?
0
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
For me (given my Laptop has an AC card) it operates on an entirely different channel.
0
Bruce GustPHP DeveloperAuthor Commented:
John! Last question: What is an AC card? If I'm on a Mac, is there an AC card in place by default or is it something you install? What is it about your configuration that's distinct from what's typical that allows you the ability to hone in your wireless network specifically as opposed to having to "compete" with any of the other wireless network that may be available?
0
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
An AC card is a faster card than an N Card. If your machine does not come with it, then you can use a good N router.

Try again with your existing router to the latest firmware, and use the tools we pointed to above to select a channel which is less congested. I would do this before spending money on a new router. There are (now) lots of computer with N cards which may mean congestion.  Try firmware and channel change.
0
Bruce GustPHP DeveloperAuthor Commented:
Thank you, guys!
1
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You are very welcome and I was happy to help.
0
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Routers

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.