Improve your network
Make your network work smarter, faster and more reliably with these handy tips
Your wireless network should work pretty reliably most of the time, especially if you use an AirPort Extreme or AirPort Time Capsule. Nevertheless, there are things you can do to make it work better, faster and more reliably, and to make it more secure.
Your first port of call for working with Apple’s AirPort hardware is AirPort Utility, which is found in /Applications/Utilities on a Mac and a free add-on for iOS devices (apple.co/24Lyx6D. This app shows your current base station’s setup and how you’re connected to the internet. Open it, select your device’s icon in the network map to reveal details about its configuration, and click Edit to make changes.
One of the best things you can do to speed up your network is to make sure your base station is using the fastest possible connection speed. If you own the latest 802.11ac AirPort Extreme and a suitable Mac (most 2013 or newer models) or iOS device (at least an iPhone 6, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4 or an iPad Pro), then 802.11ac radio mode offers the best mixture of speed for newer devices that connect at 5GHz and backwards compatibility for older ones in the 2.4GHz band.
With an older 802.11n model, switching it to 5GHz will give you the fastest data speeds, but not all of your devices may work with that, which is an issue if the base station doesn’t do simultaneous dual-band broadcast. You can switch modes in AirPort Utility > Wireless > Wireless Options.
Learn self-defense You should also secure your network by employing Wireless Protected Access (WPA), which
offers 128-bit encryption. Most routers now offer WPA2 Personal and WPA2 Enterprise security, enabling you to set passwords between 8 and 63 characters in length. You should aim to make your password as long as possible and contain a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and even symbols. If you enter the network’s password on an Apple device that’s connected to your iCloud Keychain, the password will sync to others that use the keychain, so you’ll only need to enter it once.
While hiding your network’s name from broadcast might make it seem more secure, its presence is still
Hiding a network’s name doesn’t really boost security, and it can hit performance
evident to a knowledgable sniffer. Apple’s Wireless Diagnostics tool also advises that it can cause performance and reliability issues for devices.
Finally, if your wireless network has trouble reaching areas of your home, you can extend its range using another AirPort Extreme or an AirPort Express. Open AirPort Utility, select the device you want to use to extend your wireless network, then select Network Mode > Extend a Wireless Network. Further instructions can be found at apple.co/24Lyx6D.
OS X has built-in help to diagnose those instances when your network connection doesn’t work.