Answers...

to commonly asked questions.

wifi

My airport network is having problems.

The devices which you installed to boost my wi`fi i n the house have yellow lights on and service is weak downstairs from office.I un plugged the little black box but only two green lights reappeared.What must I do?
___________


A couple of things at play here. 1st, the yellow flashing is either being caused by the presence of an update available or it could mean there's a problem with the network setup. Since you're experiencing problems with the signal strength it seems likely that the later is the cause.
Open airport utility and see if you can run any updates (denoted by red circles). After any updates are run now take an inventory of the devices present on the network grid. Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 11.57.37 PM
As in the example above, if you see one device showing a yellow triangle, then that device has somehow fallen off the network. Check the power to that device first. Secondly you may need to hold the reset button on the back for approximately 5 seconds until the yellow light flashes rapidly then use airport utility to re-add the device back on to the network. Airport Utility does a very good job of making that process very easy to do.

I just got a new router from my ISP and now my airports don't work.

We just switched to direct tv and also got fiber wire internet. We can get up to a gigabit of speed. The airport light is yellow and also the express are yellow.  Can you tell me how to get the airport on line? Or is this something that you need to come out for?
___________

It’s common for a new service provider to come into a home and disconnect the existing network.  If you are happy with the current coverage of the single ATT router they have given you then I would suggest not reconnecting the Airport devices.  However, if you feel your coverage is better with them, then you can reconnect them but it can be a little complicated.  This is due to the fact that having two routers on the same network can conflict in identical IP addresses being handed out by two routers at the same time.  In general, one would put one router into bridge mode and allow the other router to pass out numbers.  This is not always the best method but it can get a little complicated.  

I deal with this all the time.  I don’t like to try to force business for myself but in this case, you may want me to solve it for you.  It’s a little more involved than I can describe in an email.  With that said, I do suggest you first see if they simply unplugged the ethernet cable from the back of the Airport closest to the ATT router.  There should be an ethernet cable leaving the ATT router and going into the lower most input on the back of the Tower looking Airport extreme.  If it’s an older flat model, then the ethernet port for input would be the one closest to the power plug.  (The far left most as you look at the back of the flat router)

Alternatives to Airport Routers

For years now Apple has been manufacturing Airport Extremes and Express as a wifi option for your home network. They've been very reliable and the large majority of homes I work in have them, including my own. For years this has been the wifi router I recommend, bar none. It's reliability, ease of use, ability to be extended, made it the best choice in my opinion. Unfortunately word on the street is that Apple will no longer be developing routers going forward. Apple has yet to verify this publicly but all signs point to a change in their business plan which does not include manufacturing routers. The Extreme is based on the currently fastest spec 802.11ac which means that for the foreseeable future, the extreme is still a great choice. The problem is that it's little brother, the express, is not ac. It's 802.11n which means that while as an extender it works very well, it does bottle neck your speeds. In other words, using the express as an extender does slow your network down a little.

This leads us to the inevitable question. What router do I recommend going forward? This is a very difficult question to answer for many reasons. Over the next few months I will be researching which router I feel will best fit my client's needs. The criteria I will be considering is, ease of use, reliability, pricing, ability to extend. But above all, the highest priority in my eyes is range. I work with many homes over 3000 square feet which means that for most homes in my client list, one router will not do.

For now, I still stand by the Airport Extreme and still recommend that as the router to purchase for the next several months. I'm just not sure if Apple will halt production or continue to manufacture them. If you buy an extreme right now, you are going to be fine for the next several years until the next 802.11 standard is adopted and the speed of your ISP goes up. For most of us, Time Warner and ATT have still not pushed speeds over 300 mbps out so even an older 802.11n router is actually fine for our home networks for now.

So in the coming months I will be looking at alternative routers on the market and hopefully come up with a few strong recommendations. In the meantime, here are a few well written reviews on top routers for 2016:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2398080,00.asp
http://10beasts.com/best-wireless-routers/
http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-wi-fi-router/
http://appleinsider.com/articles/16/11/21/with-apple-abandoning-airport-here-are-the-best-alternative-wi-fi-routers-for-mac-users
http://www.techrepublic.com/article/apple-kills-wireless-routers-here-are-the-alternatives-for-professionals-and-smbs/
http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/best-wireless-routers/2/

Lone airport utility?

Do u remember an airport we velcroed to back of tv in kitchen. I think maybe that one was forgotten. We are having trouble downloading Apple TV movies. That airport is yellow and has phone jack that is not connected to anything?
___________


I only updated the airport devices I saw listed in the airport utility.  I left with all devices green.  An airport express can blink yellow if it’s having a problem or if it simply needs an update.  I updated all the devices listed so it may be offline for some reason.  Not sure what room your AppleTV was in but if it was the room across from the kitchen downstairs where the xbox was temporarily then any Apple TV placed at that television should still be getting an adequate signal since it is so close to the larger router in your data closet on the other side of the house near the stairs.  If you would like to re-add the airport express, you can hold down the reset button on the back and then use airport utility to re add it to the network.  

Did you break my wifi?

Scotty ,after you fixed my wifi network now my internet is not working on my desktop.
Any chance u can come back to the house
an get this internet active again?
___________


Did you use the airport icon at the top right hand corner of the computer to join the new wifi network?
___________

Thanks that worked!

Dealing with home network issues.

I think my iMacs aren’t getting online within managed or standard users but the admin accounts are. We’ve had some network issues in the past.
___________


While it is possible to apply parental controls onto a managed user on a mac from an administrator account, generally the parental controls do not block the internet.  They only filter sites.  If a person is within a parental controlled user and is trying to access a site, they would be prompted that the site was blocked.  Not “just not loading”.  This leads me to believe strongly that there is another issue at play.  There is currently no possibility of a virus on two macs that would prevent access to the internet.  The closest thing to a virus a mac can get comes in the form of a browser plugin  that actually routes traffic in a different way so the user is presented with a different set of ads within that browser.  This plugin must be installed purposefully by the user and the admin password must be entered therefore it is not actually a virus, more so just a really bad plugin that people are tricked in to installing on their own machine.  By definition, a virus is something that installs on its own without the permission of the user.  This does not currently exist on macs.  Nevertheless, this was not the case on your office mac.  Nor is it the case with my own laptop, iPad and iPhone.  All which exhibited the exact same behavior when connected to the network before discovering the other device.  

I would suggest not mixing router or extender brands.  In other words, I have found it best to only use one manufacturer’s brand router within a network.  This is to say either all apple routers, all linksys routers, all netgear routers, all d link routers, all belkin routers, etc…  I have not had good experiences where there are more than one brand router working together to display the home network.  

Secondly, when troubleshooting network issues, I’ve always found it a good practice to abandon the network name when reseting the network.  For example, if your network was previously called Smith Network, the new network would be called Smith Net, New Smith, Family Net, etc…  But not Smith Network once again.  I have found that this can also cause issues.  Certain devices that return to the network later can become confused upon rejoining.  It all comes down to the one router’s ability to hand those numbers out we discussed called IP addresses.  If a device was given a number a yesterday under the smith network, then the smith network changes in some way, when the device returns it can be a little like talking to the identical twin.  One device expects the other of having knowledge of the prior conversation while the other device is offering a new number.  It’s always better in my opinion to just start fresh with a new network.  

Printer asking for wrong type of password

Hi Scotty, when we installed the new router last week, the printer did not connect to it. When attempting to connect, it has asked me for the WEP number. Where might I find it? I discarded the box for it. Is this a problem?
___________


You do not need a WEP number.  WEP refers to an older type of encryption used by wireless routers.  Your network uses the more modern type of encryption called WPA or WPA2.  This password protection is simpler to use and more secure at the same time.  If your printer is asking for a WEP password, then you are most likely in the wrong area of the setup menu on the printer.  On the printer’s setup screen, in the network settings, find wireless setup wizard.  Using that tool, your printer should find your network easily.  At that point you’ll put in your wifi password and your printer can join the wifi network.  

Afterward, go to your computer and in the system preferences under print and scan settings,  delete the old printer then re add the printer.  You should be up and printing now.  

Why is my internet slow?

Hi I think I told you my computer was soo slow & that's when twc told me to not use airport but then when you were over it seemed fine but now back to being so slow takes over a minute to open so page! I'm soo frustrated 

And it's definitely the Wi-Fi all the devices are slow can't even get on internet at all now.
___________

If you feel the Apple airport router is at fault as Time Warner stated, you can always go to the top left corner of your computer and select the previous network.  I left the time warner router wifi in place for exactly this reason.  Subsequently, you can also go to your iPad/iPhone settings, select wifi and join the tw router.  If you would like, you can also unplug the airport router in your closet.  Your network will continue to function.  Your TW router is not married to or dependent on the Apple router.  

If after you switch over to the TW router (which is still in place as I said) and you still can’t over to the internet then it’s definitely not related to which router but rather the time warner connection itself.  

All this being said, I highly doubt your speed issue is related to which router you are on.  In fact the Apple router is a higher rated and faster router than the TW router.  But whatever you feel works best is the one you should use.  This will most likely be solved (at least temporarily) by turning off the TW modem/router and turning it back on again.

TW replaced my Apple router with theirs.

Hi Scotty,

I finally dumped earthlink and moved to the AT&T U-verse platform yesterday. Our neighborhood had fiber optic lines laid a few weeks ago (the first area in Charlotte). While it will still be a few months before they go live, we will be the first to go live in Charlotte which will be great. SO right now I have a decent 12Mbps download speed on copper (definitely better than 6Mbps with Earthlink).

Here is my issue: I have Time Capsule in my On-Q panel as my router (quit using as a back up drive about a year ago after problems - now just use plug back up drives). When AT&T came they installed their combo modem and router. I have 3 airport expresses throughout the house to extend the wifi reach. When we plugged AT&T hardware into Time capsule it worked but started receiving lots of error messages when tech was testing.  I really don’t need Time capsule anymore, but I would like to use the airport expresses. Can they be configured to work with the AT&T router/modem? MY printer of course is tied to one of the expresses as well. My computer keeps trying to revert back to my old network as well (router is unplugged, expresses are not though). Is it a simply fix you can tell me how to do or should I schedule an appt.?
__________


The fix is a little involved. It’s very common to see TW or ATT service guys come in and break apart the network. However, it’s totally fine to have the TW modem/router live within the same ecosystem as the apple routers. Just ask the other three or four hundred people I know that have it set up this way. It frustrates me to no end because this could all be avoided if the TW or ATT guys knew how to use airport utility. Basically one router has to be in charge of handing the IP addresses out. (this is called DHCP)

Now, even though I hate time capsule as a backup system, it’s still a perfectly good router. And I’m glad to hear that you don’t use it as a backup but you use connected drives instead. Good choice. Time machine is great but not when used in combination with Time Capsule routers.

The expresses will not work solely with the TW router without the main apple router. They only take orders from another apple router. So in my opinion, that time capsule router should be put back in place and forget about using the TW modem/router as a router. You’d only use it to feed internet to your Apple router. You can schedule a session and we can take care of that.

Do I need my own router?

We have the Akkris router by Time Warner.  Is there a diff u recommend.  This one has given us a lot of trouble for quite a while:(
___________


While the TW modem/router is required to get internet access to your home, it is not required for your wifi.  You can use your own wifi router to provide wifi in your home.  Unfortunately TW now charges a rental fee for their wifi modem/router but they don’t provide modems only which is really all we need.  So most clients I work with keep the modem/router supplied by their ISP but use their own routers they purchase separetly.  I like the airport extremes by apple.  They cost a little more but I think they are worth it.  www.apple.com/wifi

Notes:  I do not like the time capsule routers.  Reasons for that can be found here.

Will Time Capsule work as extender only?

Scotty - If I buy a new router from apple (extreme), can I use the time machine in place of one of the expresses even if the time machine has the problem that your surmised.   That would allow me to keep the time machine functionality and the extreme can deliver numbers to one express and one time machine. 
___________


That should work just fine.  My conclusion is that the Time Capsule is having difficulty with the ethernet out ports so as long as it’s only a node (extender) then it should be fine and the drive inside should continue to allow you to back up wirelessly.

Time Capsule router not distributing IP addresses

The playroom router is having problems.  It has dropped off the network.  I unplugged it and it reset back in line for a bit after it rebooted ... but now it has lost connectivity again.  Not sure what to do ...
___________


The only possibility I can think of is the time capsule is failing overall.  When working with your home network, the time capsule was having a problem passing numbers as we discussed.  That’s why we are relying on the Time Warner router to handle the DHCP (passing out of 192.168.x.x to other devices on the network).  The problem may be related to the actual ports on the time capsule.  Replacing that time capsule with the more reliable airport extreme will probably be your best bet in the long run.

Which airport router is right?

I need an apple router and airport. Which one do you recommend.
___________


If you visit www.apple.com/wifi you’ll see the 3 types of routers Apple sells. For the largest coverage, the Airport extreme ($199) is my favorite. As an extender, the airport express ($99) is a nice addition to cover a larger distance. It can be used alone but I would only recommend the airport express as your soul router in small spaces. For very large homes, it’s acceptable to use multiple extremes and/or expresses. They both offer USB ports to connect printers and hard drives to as well.

Lastly, there’s the time capsule ($299-$399) depending on storage capacity. It’s essentially an airport extreme with a hard drive inside. The concept is that you’d use the time capsule as a wireless backup via time machine. However, while I love time machine when it’s used with a directly connected drive, time machine, when used with a time capsule router, is flawed. Therefore, I do not consider the Time Capsule a reliable product and cannot recommend it.

iPad not finding wifi

Sorry to bother you. I am unable to connect to our WiFi on my iPad. This only happened a couple of days ago. Our WiFi appears to be working correctly--my iPhone and Beeland's iPad connect fine and your signal boosters are all working. The WiFi settings on Beeland's iPad appear to be different than mine, but I thought the connection was automatic. Any suggestions?

__________


Here are a couple of things to try. If your iOS device has at least attempted to connect or shows connected but no internet, you can choose to “forget this network” then try agin.

Settings/Wifi/choose the “i” to the right and select “forget this network”.

If that doesn’t solve the issue, try the following:

Settings/General/Reset/Reset network Settings

After that’s done, turn off your iPad and restart. Now go try to connect to your network. You may be prompted to enter the password.

Finding my wifi password

Hi Scotty! - THE SOONER YOU COULD GIVE ME YOUR RECOMMENDATION THE FASTER I CAN BOOK YOU IN AND GET THIS PROJECT COMPLETE

My daughter is going into grade 11 needs a new computer (her plastic Dell died after 4 pretty good years). I am probably going to give her my current MBP and then get a new one for myself, and then have you come over and help with all the switching over along with making sure everything is getting backed up ... but here is the dilemma - Macbook Pro with Retina Display vs Macbook Air? (its a good dilemma ... but I am worried as hell that I will be making things worse and spending a lot to do so!)


My main beef with my current MBP is:
1. Slow photo editing - not all the time but it happens often that I waiting for a photo to process after an edit.
2. Low battery life - I am always worried I am going to run out of power when I am away from power ... and I almost always do.

My concerns with the NEW Macbook Pro are:
1. Everything on the web says to wait until they come out with the new chips ... which would then handle the battery life question.
2. Will it make much difference in my editing speed

My ONLY concern with the NEW Macbook Air is:
1. Editing speed - will it get worse somehow going to the air (assume I choose the highest speed option



*If the speed is going to get worse with the AIR, I might consider just waiting until the new MBP's come out and simply try to survive with my iMac at home and iPad on the road and my desktop PC at work.

*But if speed somehow gets better, then I am inclined to get the AIR and relish the long battery life, and simply wait for another time to get me a retina display. (WHAT DOES TURBO SPEED MEAN anyways - would that actually help me?)


Thanks for your help Scotty!
___________


First off, it sounds like you need to rule out the air.  You are dealing with large images and you need as much horsepower as you can afford.  Sot the MBP is going to be the better option.  

Secondly, yes I would wait until the next revision of MBP if you can limp along with your daughter for now.  I think you'll be happier in the long term rather than second guessing your decision for the next few years.  

Third, battery life is never what we want it to be.  I have found that even if our battery life triples in length, within 6 months we are disappointed that it's not double that.

So you may want to wait on the new MBP and when they are released (with the newer lower energy consumption processors) there will be a longer battery life to them.  Also, Mavericks 10.9 will help battery life a little as well.  That's been a big focus on that operating system version.  You'll want to consider the price difference between processor speeds when you ARE ready to buy.  For the large majority of people I work with, I never recommend spending the extra money to get the faster processor but in your case it's something you should consider.

Scotty
___________
First - Thank you for the quick response - greatly appreciated.

THIS IS MY FINAL QUESTION TO YOU ... (not trying to create the never ending email chain)
I do MOST of my photo editing on my iMac at home - probably 75%. I only do photo editing on my MacBook when I am traveling longer than a day. Before I rule out the AIR, I wanted to know what speed would be like relative to what I have now. With the new chip, 500+GB SSD and this thing called turbo boost, would the AIR be better, the same or actually worse than my current MBP?
___________



The Air would not be slower than your current MBP.  In my experience, nothing beats taking your iphoto library on an external drive down the the Apple store, option launching into iPhoto using your own library and test the speeds of each computer for yourself.  You are investing a couple thousand dollars.  It's not a bad idea to test drive each machine.  That's the only way you can know for sure what you like the best.  

It has been my experience that almost 100% of the time, no matter which choice people go with, they wish they had chosen the other machine as soon as something doesn't act they way they should.  Overall, our expectations have outgrown a computer's ability to perform.  It's the same reason we all speed in a 35 mph zone.  We are not used to waiting on computers but we have all reached a point where we expect our computers to be faster than they actually are.  

I strongly suggest you go put your hands on both machines using your own iPhoto or Aperture library.

This image is a theme.plist hack