June Tech Challenge: Restart Your Devices

A quick and easy challenge this month: restart your devices!

How many times have you had this experience: Your work computer is behaving strangely and won’t send or receive emails? Or, your smart phone freezes and you can’t type a message? Or, your home internet seems super slow and Netflix keeps crashing?

You pick up the phone, call tech support, and the first thing they say is:

“Have you tried turning it off and back on again?”

There’s something about the “turn it off, turn it on” directive that most of us find infuriating. It feels too simple. The tech industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that solves complex problems faster than we can roll our eyes. To hear someone who is educated in this field and paid good money to develop new technologies say, “turn it off and turn it back on” makes us wonder why they needed so many years of school.

But, in spite of our incredulity and frustration, this method does actually work. Computer slow downs and glitches are often caused by memory leaks. Programs get opened and closed and opened again, and with each activity the program takes up more and more working memory. Computers, like our brains, get stuck in loops trying to solve problems within programs that we’ve long since closed. A restart clears the working memory, closes any loops, and gives the system a fresh start. It’s like a good spring cleaning for your computer, but done in five minutes or less (that’s the kind of spring cleaning I can get behind!).

Should I Restart, or Shutdown Entirely?

If you’re looking to clear your computer’s working memory, end all processes, and give your machine a quick refresh so it runs a bit smoother and faster, then just perform a simple Restart (this goes for both Macs and Windows 8 or later). Your computer will shut itself down and spring back to life within a few minutes.

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Experts recommend a complete weekly shutdown of all your devices.

A complete shutdown, in which the computer doesn’t start up again until you turn it on, is worth doing if you’re going to be away from your machine for a while (overnight or longer). It’s more energy efficient and will prolong the life of your battery. It also makes your computer more secure; taking a computer completely offline removes the opportunity for it to be hacked.

How Often Should I Restart or Shutdown?

More often than you might think! Most experts suggest restarting your computer, laptop, tablet, and smartphone every few days, and performing a complete shutdown about once a week. So maybe don’t wait a full year before you revisit this challenge!

Have fun with this month’s challenge and we’ll see you in July!

 

Internet Safety: Public Wi-Fi & Online Shopping

We’re continuing on our internet safety theme from last month and diving further into how to protect yourself online when using public Wi-Fi or shopping online.

PUBLIC WI-FI

The thought of heading to the local coffee shop to “work from home” is alluring, but how safe is it? There are risks to using public Wi-Fi that you should know about before you click that “Join” button.

What’s the difference between home Wi-Fi and public Wi-Fi?

At home you make use of a router connected to a server owned by your internet service provider. You have elected to have a relationship with your provider and you should choose a provider you trust: every search and keystroke you enter passes through their server and can theoretically be accessed (except for encrypted passwords), although the terms under which that information can be accessed should be outlined in their Privacy Policy.

With public Wi-Fi, you can’t be sure who has access to the server you’re connecting to. Additionally, it is relatively easy for hackers using the same Wi-Fi to get in between you and the public server, even posing as the “free Wi-Fi” that you connect to, thereby gaining access to your personal information. To learn more about the dangers of public Wi-Fi, take a look at this article.

So, what to do about it?

When using public Wi-Fi, you should use a Virtual Private Network. A VPN creates a secure tunnel between your computer and the VPN server so that your data is protected. To learn more about VPNs check out this article.

ONLINE SHOPPING

You’re not alone if you prefer shopping from your couch rather than heading to a busy shopping centre. Over 84% of Canadians polled in 2018 purchased goods and services online, and that number continues to grow.

Along with payment information, shopping online means providing your address, phone number, and email address. You’re also potentially giving out other personal information just by virtue of what you are buying.

To keep your information safe, there are a number of guidelines you should follow. To begin with, don’t shop using public Wi-Fi, especially without a VPN. As mentioned above, it’s relatively simple for hackers using the same public Wi-Fi to retrieve the information you’re entering.

women on couch shopping with tablet

Shop online from home

Next, when shopping online, always pay with a credit card rather than connecting to your bank account. Many sites only accept credit cards, but this should be your standard operating procedure even with payment methods that allow you to connect to a bank account, such as PayPal. Payments made with credit cards can be more easily disputed and credit card companies are quicker to reimburse your money if there has been a breach. If a hacker gains access to your bank account through details you’ve entered online, you have a much smaller chance of ever seeing that money again.

Padlock Icon

Look for the padlock icon in the URL when entering personal information

Finally, always make sure the site is encrypted by checking for the padlock symbol in the site address which ensures that information you enter is secure as it travels between your computer and the site’s server. For some good tips on how to safely use your credit card online check out this article.

With more and more everyday objects able to connect to the internet, such as watches and home entertainment systems, there’s always more we can say about internet safety. Watch for more tips from us in the future here and on social media.

Is Winter Weather Affecting Your Internet Connection?

Winter weather is on the move across Canada, blanketing our roads and homes with snow and ice. Your internet connection can deal with average winter conditions, but severe weather can slow down or even shut down your internet connection. Here are some ways in which bad winter weather might impact your DSL or cable internet speeds, and some suggestions for what you can do about it.

High winds, heavy snow, ice build-up, and ground heaves due to freezing and thawing can take out power lines, damage connection points between your internet provider and your home, and stress cables, causing your connection to be slow or even be dropped if lines are damaged or broken.

(Remember: never touch exposed wires or cables as they could be live. Always call your local utility company to report downed power lines.)

What can you do about a slow or nonexistent internet connection?

At Worldline, we know it’s frustrating when your internet connection is not all that you want it to be. If you don’t see a blizzard raging outside, start with the easy things: check all the connections inside your house to make sure no cables or connection points have accidentally been pulled out or damaged. 

It’s become a cliché to say “turn it off and turn it on again” in relation to any tech issue, but it is still a viable option. Turn off your router (make sure to warn everyone in the home first!), wait a few seconds, and turn it back on again; you’d be amazed how many times that works. 

Next, check and see just how many people in your home are using the internet. If you have a combination of gamers and movie and music streamers, your internet connection speed will likely suffer no matter what the weather is doing. Consider upgrading your internet package to accommodate more users or encourage everyone in the house to watch a movie or play a game together. 

Your next step is to take a walk outdoors and check your termination box. This is the point where the cables enter your home from the outside. Wear and tear, snow and ice buildup, or moisture on any exposed wires can cause lines to short out. Make it a priority once or twice a year to check your termination box for any damage and be sure to contact your internet provider if you think there’s a problem with it.

Still having issues with your internet connection?

One thing to bear in mind during cold weather is that if YOU want to be inside where it’s warm, your neighbours probably do too. Heavy internet usage in the neighbourhood can mean poor connection and download speeds for everyone. Have a bit of patience, and consider hosting friends from the neighbourhood to enjoy a movie or game night together while cutting down on competing internet usage.

It’s also worth remembering that good weather in your neighbourhood doesn’t mean there isn’t a storm somewhere else that’s impacting connection points to your home. Check local weather reports as well as utility and internet provider sites to see if there’s a problem somewhere. Again, patience is really the only answer here as you wait for the storm to blow over.

And for Worldline customers, if your problems aren’t blowing over with the weather, you can always give us a call and we’ll do what we can to help. 

Stay warm and stay safe this winter, friends!

 

Worldline Moving Guide

There’s no doubt that summer is the ideal time of year to sell your home. The demand for housing is at its highest and Canadians can avoid snow and rain that tends to come with moving in the winter or spring.

Moving in the summer demands plenty of planning to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible, from the time you start packing up your belongings to the moment you settle into your new home.

Amongst all the planning, it’s essential to prepare your Internet services for the big move. With that in mind, we have put together a list of ways to prepare your services.

Moving

Plan Ahead

Planning is important! To avoid any interruptions in your service, you’ll need to contact us at least five days before your move. Provide your new address details, including the postal code and unit/apt number (if applicable).

When you call in, we will verify service availability at your new address. A Worldline customer representative requires up to 3-5 business days to schedule a technician. They will help you schedule an install date and time that works for you.

Moving Check List

When it comes time to install at your new address, ensure someone over the age of 18 is home during the entire time slot you chose.

Make sure there’s clear access to cable outlets and have all your equipment (modem, power cords, etc.) on-site so that the technician can ensure everything is working correctly once reconnected.

If you need to change your installation date and time, or you have questions about moving your services, don’t hesitate to call.

Settling In

This list may not eliminate your moving pressures entirely, but hopefully, it will make your life easier and less stressful as you settle into your new home.

How To Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal

Today, almost all your devices rely on Wi-Fi, and a strong connection is vital. If your wireless network isn’t performing to your expectations, there are a few ways you can improve the signal before ordering a new modem or router.

Here are a few tips to help boost your signal and get a faster wireless connection.

Placement

PlacementThe placement of your router is crucial! The more walls or floors the signal travels through, the weaker the signal will be. You’ll want to avoid placing your modem close to metal objects and appliances that emit electromagnetic waves, such as microwaves. If you’re looking for the fastest and most reliable signal, elevate your router, place it towards the centre of the house, not too close to walls or appliances.

Switch Channels

Wireless routers can operate on several different channels. Like lanes on a highway, there are multiple Wi-Fi channels on which a router can broadcast. Other people in your apartment building, neighbourhood, etc., might be using the same channel as you. The more people on a channel, the more interference there will be. The solution is simple: switch the channel your router is on.

Devices Connected

Connected DevicesStreaming videos, playing games, and browsing online at the same time can take up a lot of bandwidth! This can affect your internet speed and Wi-Fi connection. If you have multiple devices connected over Wi-Fi, it might interfere with your connection. Consider connecting devices such as gaming systems, smart TVs or streaming devices with an ethernet cable.  If you have lots of guests, try creating a separate guest network for them.

Switch to 5GHz

Wi-Fi networks use radio signals in either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequency bands. The 5GHz wireless frequency provides faster rates over a shorter distance. 2.4GHz on the other hand, is capable of broadcasting over longer distances. If your device is far away from your modem, it may be better to use the 2.4Ghz frequency. If your modem or router supports it, and your device is nearby the modem or router, consider switching to 5GHz to take advantage of those faster speeds.

Wi-Fi Extender

Routers usually have a certain distance that they will send a signal to reliably. The farther away you are from the router, the weaker and slower the signal will be. To help improve the distance your Wi-Fi reaches, you can purchase a wireless booster or extender. These devices will pick up your existing router and re-broadcast it.

If you are willing to spend a little more, you can also invest in a mesh network. A mesh network is a network of interlocking routers called points, or nodes. These points work with one another to supply internet coverage over a broad area. A mesh network router will usually provide superior coverage and signal strength. To learn more about mesh networks, watch the video below.

Reboot

“If it doesn’t work, try switching it on and off.” This applies to Wi-Fi routers as well. Simply reboot your router to improve Wi-Fi speeds. A reboot will reconfigure the router allowing it to update.

At Worldline, we offer a Wi-Fi modem with a built-in router. Lagging Wi-Fi signals are frustrating, but these signal boosting tips can help alleviate some of those frustrations, giving you the best possible Wi-Fi signal. Visit our website to learn more about our High-Speed Internet options.