Optimize your home network using these tools

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Most of the focus on home networking is on the speed of the broadband connection from the ISP. That’s obviously an important factor, but most home networks include a variety of other elements that all contribute to the overall experience. The equipment you choose could enhance an otherwise sluggish broadband connection, or end up being a bottleneck that throttles your blazing fast broadband to a crawl.

Ensuring you have a strong connection and purchasing top-of-the-line equipment are two important steps to optimizing your setup, but they don’t take you all the way; NAS (network attached storage) is also an important element of an efficient and convenient home network. A system like one of QNAP’s TS-x51 Series keeps your important files and media in one safe and central spot, rounding out the optimal home network environment.

But let’s start from the beginning. Here are the most important things to consider when optimizing the performance of your home network:

Modem

The unit that takes the incoming signal from the telephone or cable and converts it to a network connection you can use.

When you sign up for broadband Internet service, the ISP will gladly supply you with a modem. They’ll also gladly charge you a monthly fee to lease that modem, and the one supplied by the ISP is typically not the best available.

The primary thing to look for when selecting a modem is that it uses the most current standards. For example, make sure the Ethernet ports support gigabit connections, and for cable modems you want a device that supports the Docsis 3.0 or higher standard because it allows for significantly faster downstream and upstream transmission speeds. A modem like the Netgear DGND3700, or the Motorola Surfboard SB6141 will quickly pay for itself after you eliminate that monthly device leasing fee from your ISP bill.

Routers and Switches

A device that allows multiple devices to connect to a network, and transports data to and from its intended endpoints.

Some broadband modems have multiple Ethernet ports, so it’s possible you might not need a separate router, but many have only one—designed to connect with a router or switch to feed the rest of the network. You also might need a separate router if you have a significant number of devices to connect to the network because some modems can only handle a handful of simultaneous connections.

There are very few areas that actually offer gigabit broadband, and even where broadband speed in excess of 100Mbps is available, it is often cost-prohibitive. Even though your connection to the outside world might be slower, you need to make sure that any routers or switches you connect to it have gigabit Ethernet. The faster connections within the home enable your devices to communicate more effectively with each other on the internal network, and ensure that your network will not be the bottleneck that slows things down. And, as your ISP provides faster service over time and media is streamed at higher and higher quality, you won’t have to buy new equipment to keep up.

Most wireless gadgets these days are built around the 802.11n Wi-Fi standard, but there is a newer standard that is significantly faster—802.11ac. The theoretical maximum speed for 802.11n is 300Mbps (Megabits per second), compared with 7Gbps (Gigabits per second) for 802.11a. You won’t see 7Gbps in real-world usage, but there are 802.11ac Wi-Fi routers on the market that claim to be capable of exceeding 2Gbps. An 802.11ac Wi-Fi router like the Linksys WRT1900AC, or the ASUS RT-AC87U covers all of the bases. They’re equipped with wired gigabit Ethernet ports, and also deliver blazing fast wireless connectivity.

NAS (Network Attached Storage)

A unit consisting of one or more hard drives that connects to a network independent of a PC.

Now that you have high-speed connectivity all the way from your ISP to the endpoint, the final step in optimizing your network is to make sure that your data is able to take advantage of all of that as well.

NAS provides a single, network-accessible point for data to be stored. It’s always connected to the network, so access to the data is not dependent on specific endpoints being turned on or connected, and everything is securely stored in a convenient, easy-to-access location. NAS vendors like QNAP also provide apps for iOS and Android devices that enable you to access data from your smartphone or tablet.

In a home environment, it’s not unusual for each family member to have their own PC, mobile device, and/or external storage, with songs, photos, movies, shows, and other data stored locally. Having everything scattered about like that not only makes it harder to find it when you need it, it complicates the process of backing up crucial data – an essential element of an optimized network. NAS simplifies and automates the process, executing daily backups for all of your family’s devices from one central, shared point of access.

For more info on how a NAS device from QNAP can help optimize your home, visit QNAP.com.

This story, "Optimize your home network using these tools" was originally published by BrandPost.

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