Networking

Recommendations to optimize the Internet connection and navigate fast

Today, the Internet has become a valuable tool for both work and leisure. Every day new ways of working such as teleworking are gaining more prominence. For this reason, we are going to make a series of recommendations to optimize the internet connection and make it work as well as possible. Thus, we can take advantage of the full potential offered by our connection to work or enjoy leisure. We will talk about how to update a router, how to set up our PC or laptop, and network configuration recommendations.

In the first part we are going to focus on setting up our home network. Here the best we can do is connect via network cable to the router or switch, if this is not possible, connect via Wi-Fi to the router in the 5GHz band. We will also have to modify the DNS servers, update the firmware of the router and the WiFi repeaters if we have it in our home. Finally, we must provide it with a good configuration that maintains our security.

Connect with the network cable whenever possible

The first recommendation to have the highest speed and minimum latency is to connect with a network cable to the router or switch directly, not to use Wi-Fi networks, Wi-Fi repeaters or PLC devices. The best thing is a direct connection that guarantees us speeds of at least 1Gbps. It does not matter if our cabling is Cat5e, Cat 6 or higher, it is always advisable to use network cable to connect to the Internet and have the best speed.

Any other connection method, Wi-Fi repeaters, Wi-Fi Mesh systems to which you connect via cable to the nodes, PLC with or without Wi-Fi, will always give us a worse performance than if we connect via cable to the router. The best way to check our connection is by doing a speed test here. This way we can check if we are taking advantage of the full potential of our Internet connection. In this case, we are starting with a 600 Mb fiber optic connection. As we are connected by network cable to a router with Gigabit Ethernet ports, the test should result in the full contracted speed. These are the results I have obtained after performing the speed test:

As you can see, the result has been satisfactory. In the event that the estimated speed is not achieved, these elements should be reviewed:

  1. That the network cable is Category 6 or higher, although Category Cat5e cables are perfectly valid as long as they are shorter than approximately 5 meters, although due to the difference in price compared to cat6, it is advisable to buy these directly last.
  2. The router has Gigabit ethernet ports.
  3. If we use a switch to have more devices connected, that the switch has Gigabit Ethernet ports.
  4. The PC network card is Gigabit Ethernet or higher, and is connected to the router at that speed (see synchronization speed in “Control Panel / Network Center / Change adapter configuration” and double click on our network card, to show us the maximum speed.
  5. The PC is not very old, old equipment may not be able to squeeze the maximum speed from our Internet connection.

Today Multigigabit networks are beginning to become popular, These Ethernet networks allow us to synchronize at speeds in the local network of 2.5G, 5G and even 10Gbps, thanks to these speeds we will be able to squeeze the most out of the wired connection. In order to have a Multigigabit network, it is totally necessary to have a WiFi router with Multigigabit ports, such as the ASUS RT-AX89X or the ASUS RT-AX86U among other NETGEAR or TP-Link models, another option is to have a Multigigabit switch with different ports at different speeds, or all ports that are 10GBASE-T Multigigabit, in this way, the speed of the different ports will adapt perfectly to the maximum speeds of the Ethernet network cards that we have. In the case of not having a high-performance router, and not having the possibility to change it because you use the operator’s, It will be totally necessary for you to buy a non-manageable or manageable switch with Multigigabit ports, and connect the different equipment to this switch. The data frames will go from one PC to another or to a NAS server through the switch, but without the need to go through the main router.

Logically, to have Multigigabit connectivity we will need compatible Ethernet network cards, the most recommended is the ASUS XG-C100C, a 10GBASE-T Multigigabit network card that will provide us with outstanding performance. Finally, cabling is also very important in Multigigabit networks, although with Cat6 cables we can already synchronize at speeds of 2.5Gbps and even 5Gbps, it is always recommended that you buy Cat 7 cables to reliably ensure that you can synchronize at 10Gbps speeds and transfer at these blazing-fast speeds, otherwise you could sync at 10Gbps speeds but only transfer data at 2Gbps, very poor performance. Today you have Cat 7 network cables of great lengths to wire your whole house without problems, in addition, there are also 1, 2,

As you have seen, with these recommendations you can get the maximum internet speed via cable, but you still have to review other aspects.

If you have to connect via Wi-Fi, always in 5GHz

If you have no choice but to use an Internet connection via Wi-Fi, then it is advisable to take some aspects into consideration.

The first thing we must take into account is if our router or Wi-Fi Mesh system is simultaneous dual band, working in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz band. If so, it is always advisable to connect in the 5GHz band since we will have less interference, we will get more speed and lower latency. That is, whenever possible, connect to this 5GHz frequency band because it will provide you with better performance.

If you have a router with Wi-Fi 6, you can achieve higher speed and greater efficiency in the wireless network. If you have a Wi-Fi Mesh router or system with the new Wi-Fi 6 standard, you must also buy a Wi-Fi 6 card, otherwise the Wi-Fi 5 standard will be used and you will not be able to enjoy all the improvements incorporated in the new standard.

Currently the most recommended Wi-Fi 6 card is the Intel AX200, this card can be purchased to install in our laptop, or through a PCI-e adapter for desktop computers, as with the ASUS PCE-AX58BT that we have analyzed in RedesZone.

Of course, if we connect via Wi-Fi, the recommendations to achieve the best speed in this connection mode are still present:

  • Change the Wi-Fi channel if there is interference
  • Use 80MHz or 160MHz channel width on the router to achieve maximum speed
  • Use WPA2-AES or the new WPA3-AES protocol for the best possible security
  • Avoid connecting from far away, as signal bouncing will slow your actual speed.
  • Place the router at an intermediate height, neither on the floor nor on the ceiling

If you are going to use a Wi-Fi Mesh system, it is recommended that it be simultaneous triple band and that we have a dedicated 5GHz frequency band for the interconnection of the nodes. This will provide us with higher speed and lower latency, since this backhaul network is not shared with wireless clients, therefore, this aspect is essential. If you use a WiFi Mesh with simultaneous dual band, always try to connect it to the main node that acts as a router, in this way, you will not have a “jump” in the wireless network and you will reach your destination earlier with greater speed.

If you are going to use Wi-Fi repeaters, it is very important that they be simultaneous double band or simultaneous triple band, this will allow us to achieve higher real speed. If the repeater has a Gigabit Ethernet port and you have the possibility of connecting to it, do so, because it is much better to connect to a Wi-Fi repeater via cable than to connect wirelessly, because we will not have to take “two jumps” to get to the main router.

If you have to use PLC devices, better by cable

There are mainly two different types of PLC devices, those that do not have Wi-Fi and we have to connect by cable, and those that are by Wi-Fi. Logically, it is always advisable to buy and use the first ones, where our PC is connected by cable to the PLC devices. This is very important because the return network will work through the electrical network, and in principle we should achieve good connection speeds, although it will depend on the different PLC models that you have chosen.

In the event that you have to connect to a PLC, and, in addition, you have to do it yes or yes via Wi-Fi, it is very important that the WiFi access point that has the supplementary PLC is simultaneous dual band, in this way, you can connect in the 5GHz band to get the best possible speed.

Change DNS servers, on the router or on the PC

To navigate fast, one of the most important protocols that we must take into account is DNS. If we have all the perfect network settings, but have slow DNS servers, web browsing will be very slow as it will take a long time to resolve all domain names. Choosing the best DNS servers for our connection is very easy, and making all the devices on the local network use them, too, but we are going to show you how to do it step by step.

The best we can do is check which are the fastest DNS servers, to later configure it in our router in the “LAN / DNS Servers” section of the DHCP server. However, our recommendation is to use Google’s DNS (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4), Cloudflare’s DNS (1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1) or Quad9’s (9.9.9.9), since normally these are the ones that should give you the best performance.

To apply these new DNS, we have two methods, the first one is configuring it directly in the router, so that all clients in our home use them, and we don’t have to go device by device configuring them.

Configuration of the new DNS on the router

To configure the DNS in the router, the first thing we have to do is enter our router through its default gateway. To find out what it is, we must follow the following steps in Windows 10:

  1. Start menu.
  2. CMD + Enter.
  3. We write the command ipconfig / all and press enter.

Next, the execution of the command will offer us these results:

In this case, we see that our gateway is 192.168.1.1, we enter via the web with http://192.168.1.1 and access the menu. Depending on the firmware, changing the DNS will be in the LAN section or in the DHCP server section, for example, if you use an ASUS router, we will find it in «LAN / DHCP»:

Here we must put the chosen DNS server, for example, 8.8.8.8 or 1.1.1.1, depending on which one you prefer. Once the changes are applied, all wired and wireless clients will use these DNS servers that are provided directly by the router’s DHCP server.

Configuration of the new DNS on the PC

If you are going to change the DNS servers directly on a PC with the Windows 10 operating system, you will have to perform a few steps:

  • Access Control Panel
  • Go to Network and Sharing Center
  • Change adapter settings
  • Right click on the network card that we are using, wired or wireless.

Once inside, click on “TCP / IP network protocol version 4” and on the Properties button:

Finally, the following screen will appear, and here we will have to put a private IP, the mask and the default gateway, if you are going to put a fixed IP it is advisable to put one outside the DHCP range so that there are no IP conflict problems . Here we will also put the DNS servers and click on accept.

With this we would already have other DNS servers configured on this computer.

Update the router, Wi-Fi repeaters, drivers and more

Always having the latest version of the router firmware and WiFi repeaters is very important, because they always add new functionalities and also bug fixes and performance improvements. The same happens with the drivers of the network cards and Wi-Fi, we should always install the latest versions to avoid incompatibility problems.

How to update the firmware of a router

Currently routers update firmware in two different ways. In the first, the router downloads and installs the latest firmware automatically or manually, this is ideal to have to worry enough about its updates, especially in the first case where there are automatic updates. In other cases, we have to be the ones who download the latest firmware from the manufacturer’s website.

It must also be said that in both cases, unless it is configured to do it automatically, we will do it as follows:

  1. We enter the router configuration through the web.
  2. We go to the corresponding section and update.

To enter the web configuration of our router we need to know our gateway or router IP. In Windows 1st we will follow these steps:

  1. Start menu.
  2. CMD + Enter.
  3. We write the command ipconfig / all and press enter.

Next, the execution of the command will offer us these results:

In this case, we see that our gateway is 192.168.1.1. To explain how to update the firmware of a router we have used an AVM FRITZ! Box 3490. The next step we have to take is to open the browser, type 192.168.1.1 and press the Enter key. Then we will get a screen like this:

Now it is time to enter the password of our router. After getting web access to the router, typing in the password we are in the router’s configuration menu. Regarding the AVM FRITZ! Box, that section that we are looking for to update is in « System «.

The one we are looking for is the Update one, and it is the one we are going to select by clicking on it.

This is where the firmware update takes place. On this screen we also have information about the firmware version that you have.

This AVM FRITZ! Box router belongs to the group of routers that download firmware by themselves. So what we have to do is click on « Find a new FRITZ! OS » and follow the instructions that appear on the screen.

In routers that require a file to update, we have to get to a screen similar to the previous one. There we also usually see the firmware version and then we will click on a button that is usually called Update Firmware. At that moment, we select the path where the file that we have previously downloaded from the manufacturer’s website is located and wait for the operation to complete.

In RedesZone we recommend that once the firmware update starts not to interrupt the process since otherwise you could leave your router unusable.

Firmware update for WiFi repeaters and other devices

Now it is time to update the firmware of the WiFi repeaters. Also keeping our WiFi network safe is an essential element. The objective is that no one sneaks into our WiFi network, taking advantage of any vulnerability in the firmware of our devices.

As for the WiFi repeaters, we can access their configuration and update them in two different ways:

  1. Entering its configuration by using an Internet browser with a PC or laptop connected to the same Wi-Fi network. We would do it in a very similar way to the one we use for the router. In this case, all we have to do is change that IP to enter, for the one that comes in its configuration manual.
  2. By using our smartphone with an application from the manufacturer.

Depending on the device and the manufacturer, updating the equipment may be easier (automatic updates), or something more complex, where we must download the firmware from the manufacturer’s official website and proceed to flash the device.

With this we already have the recommendations to update the different devices of the local network, and that they do not prevent us due to a failure, having a high Internet speed or a high latency in the connection. The next step will be to fine-tune the software of our equipment.

Update our PC to have the best possible connection

The first thing we are going to do is check that our operating system has all the security updates downloaded. For this we will follow the following steps:

  1. Let’s go to the start menu.
  2. We write search for updates and press enter.

After a period of time it will show you if you have available updates.

In this case we see that we have a few and click on download to start the process. Then we wait and if he tells us to restart when we can, we execute the order.

In this sense, our PC or laptop must also be prepared with the appropriate security software:

  1. A free or paid antivirus.
  2. Anti malware software (optional).

Among the recommendations to optimize the Internet connection, one of the most important aspects is to have the drivers of our network adapter updated. In this case we have chosen Windows 10 because right now it is the most widespread version of Microsoft’s operating system. If we want to update the drivers of our Ethernet network card, we will follow these steps:

  1. Let’s go to the start menu.
  2. We will write device manager and press enter.

Then a screen like this will appear:

In the network adapters section, click on our Ethernet network card using the right mouse button. Next, among the available options, we choose Update driver and we will arrive at this screen:

Here what we have to do is select Search for updated driver software automatically. At that time our operating system will check the internet for a more recent version of our driver.

As for the WiFi card, we could repeat the same process to update it. The steps would be the same as for the network card, because it is still a wireless network card. This is an example with a Qualcomm Artheros AR9285 WiFi adapter from a laptop.

In the case of Intel WiFi cards, it is always advisable to access the official Intel download website and perform a manual installation, because we will have the latest versions of drivers available with the latest improvements.

Windows does not always detect the most recent version of the driver for our network card. Knowing the manufacturer and model of our motherboard can be a good starting point. If you know your exact model, you can use the HWiNFo program and download it from here . Personally, I have chosen the portable option because I did not want to do any installation. After executing the program I have obtained the following data:

So for example I have found out that my motherboard is a Gigabyte Z370P D3. Therefore, what I have to do is go to the Gigabyte website and look for my model. Once found we go to support and in the LAN section we can download the drivers for our network card. We could also apply the same by knowing the manufacturer and model of a laptop. On its website, if it is a brand of recognized prestige, we can find both the drivers for the network card and those for the WiFi. This method gives us that sometimes those drivers are more modern and installs the exact version that corresponds to us.

It is highly recommended that, if Windows 10 indicates that it is already updated to the latest version, enter the official website of the Ethernet network card manufacturer, and download the latest drivers available from there. It is very likely that Windows 10 will not detect that there is a better version of drivers, and you will have to perform the download and installation manually. To install the drivers manually, just download them from the official website, and run the .exe file inside it. If we do not have an .exe file, then we will have to click on « Search for driver software on the computer «.

These recommendations to optimize the Internet connection will help you to get the best performance from our connection.

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