Topics:Cybersecurity ISP News Speed Tips Price Tips Finding ISPs security positive working atmosphere productivity increase employee workspace advertising low budget website design phones hacked
Guest Post by Marla Keene Mobile phones are ingrained in our daily life. We use them as cameras, credit cards, personal assistants, entertainment centers, financial wizards, medical devices, remote controls for IoT-connected devices, and (oh yeah!) phones. Unfortunately, this integration means our lives are turned upside down when our phones are compromised by a cybercriminal. You may think you have nothing to hide or protect on your phone. But cybercrooks are great at pulling together data piece by piece until they have enough information to make your life miserable by compromising online accounts, taking out loans in your name, and conducting other acts of identity theft that will take months or even years to fix. Less worrying — but still annoying — malware can affect the performance of your phone and legitimate software applications, creating daily headaches as you try to use your device. Warning signs that your phone has been hacked A hacked phone should be visualized as an open door any stranger can walk through to enter locations your phone connects to. This includes your home, your bank accounts, your personal online accounts, and your workplace. Do you want a stranger in those places? Chances are you won’t notice your phone has been compromised at first. Hackers are excellent at keeping their activity unnoticed, and most fly under the radar for weeks or even months before you realize something is wrong. However, if you pay close attention to your device you’ll notice small changes that will alert you to the sneaky activity going on underneath the surface. Here’s what to look for: You see strange activity on your connected accounts The first symptom you may notice may be outgoing texts or calls you don’t remember making, or activity on your Twitter or Facebook accounts that don’t sound like you. A rash of strange text messages from unknown senders coming in to your phone could also be a sign something is wrong. You may even see unauthorized bank or credit card charges. New pop ups are showing up When you see advertising on your phone in places where it’s never been before, it’s a good sign you’ve been infected with some kind of adware. Don’t ignore the problem. While most of these ads are simply annoying, some lead to malicious sites that will do more damage to your phone and your privacy. Your battery life is decreasing/data usage increasing Both a decrease in battery life and an increase in data usage are signs of extra activity on your phone. For example, that planted malware is running in the background capturing your activity and passwords and transmitting information to a third party. All this usage can make your phone run hot, another good indicator changes have been made. Your phone is slowing down It’s easy to guess why performance drops when malware is present. Your operating system is taxed to perform harder as it tries to maintain all your normal activity plus the software processes for the cybercriminals. As your phone’s memory is eaten up by these hidden programs, legitimate apps glitch and crash unexpectedly. Meanwhile, your network connection is bogged down by the continuous stream of mined personal information heading off to some unknown party. How this happens Cybercriminals have a number of ways to access your device ranging from installing malware via phony applications, phishing attacks by phone or text baiting you into divulging personal information either on the spot or directing you to a malevolent site, or through attacking your phone in real time either through a Wi-Fi connection or via your unprotected device. Hackers can also use more sophisticated attacks like denial of service attacks and buffer overflows, or they can attack your phone when you synchronize it to an already infected device, like your laptop. This can be a potential issue if you tether your infected phone to a work device since malware can also jump from your phone to any device it’s connected to. While it’s unlikely, hackers can also attack your phone using Signalling System No. 7 (SS7) communication protocol, which has a vulnerability that allows hackers to spy on phone calls and text messages. But this is probably not a problem unless you’re a high-profile target like a world leader or well-known dissident. More likely, hackers will access information you’ve stored in the cloud and failed to properly protect, including photos, messages, phonebooks, call logs, browser history, and any saved passwords. With a list of your browsing history and passwords in hand, cybercriminals can begin to make their way through low-security data and head toward higher quality targets, leaving you with compromised credit and a stolen identity. What to do if your phone has been hacked As soon as you realize there’s a problem, you should download a mobile security application from a reliable source and then immediately limit your phone’s ability to connect to the outside world. Disable bluetooth, Wi-Fi and your phone’s GPS. Run the new software, clean up your phone’s cache, and disable and remove any applications you don’t remember installing. Don’t forget to contact your credit card companies and your bank to block any unauthorized charges. You’ll need to change all passwords associated with any sensitive accounts, too. It’s better to do this using a secondary device until you’re sure your phone is clean. As you’re resetting passwords, it’s a good idea to set up two-factor authentication for any sites offering it. This second layer of safety will connect a PIN or email authentication to your logins, providing an extra layer of security to your accounts. You may have to restore the phone to factory settings in order to correct the issue. This will result in a loss of all data that hasn’t been recently backed up, a painful experience no one wants to go through. It’s certainly not one to repeat. How to avoid the problem With a little planning and awareness, you can keep your data safe from attacks. Here are some basic steps to take: Keep your phone updated and install patches when they become available. Patches and security updates will fix bugs and protect your device from known vulnerabilities. Use mobile security software. Good mobile security software will offer spam and firewall protection. It will also allow you to lock your device from a remote location if it’s ever lost. Use free Wi-Fi sparingly. Unsecured networks leave your data at risk. Never access sensitive accounts on free Wi-Fi. And be sure the network point is real; thieves often spoof legitimate hotspots to try to get you to connect. Use a PIN/lock code. No one plans on losing their phone. But it happens. Lock it down. Don’t store passwords on your devices. Stored passwords are like unlocked locks; they do nothing to keep someone out. Also, don’t use common passwords or the same password on every site. If you can’t remember forty randomly generated 8-digit passwords (and who can?) consider using a site like LastPass to store encrypted passwords for you. Back up your data on a regular schedule. Regular backups allow you to protect essential or important data. Many devices allow you to set up an automatic backup. But remember to properly protect any cloud service where data is being stored just as you would your device. The ever-changing nature of mobile threats can be daunting. But awareness and action are the best tools in keeping one step ahead of threats. Remember, hackers are opportunists. If you properly protect your device you will provide too much of an obstacle and they will move on. Marla Keene is a tech writer with AX Control, Inc. Her articles can be found on the company blog as well as on the web on sites like Medium, JaxEnter, and ForeverGeek.com.
Guest Post by Frank Hamilton You may have the very best product or service in the world, but if people don’t know about it, then your product or service is as good as non-existent. So you set up a website hoping you can reach a wider audience, and to achieve that, you need to generate massive traffic on your website. All of this can feel like a pretty daunting task because the strategies and marketing tools required for advertising your website can be pricey, especially if you are working on a tight budget. Nevertheless, there are some great ways you can get your customers flocking to your website. In this article, we will look at the three most effective ways to advertise your site without having previous marketing experience and without breaking the bank. 1. Social media The use of social media has grown at an alarming rate, with about 45 percent of the world’s population on social media. More people are joining various social media platforms by the day and spending hours on it engaging with content. Creating a social media account means that you can have better interaction with your customers and easily promote your website. Different social media platforms also provide businesses with an excellent channel to advertise their products to the right audience, e.g., Facebook Advertising and Instagram sponsored links. Here are a few tips to note if you want to use social media for promoting your website effectively: Identify what social media platform is right for your business and where your target audience is. Share compelling visuals that will make your audience want to explore more about your page. Make use of the Buy Button, which is an essential feature on social media to generate sales. This button can create an automatic link to your website. Use social media influencers to get more people visiting your website, using promos, endorsements, etc. Put together a social media content calendar that will allow you to create your social posts in advance. Also, use scheduling tools to automatically post the right content, at the right time and to the right social media channels. 2. Search engine optimization Search engine optimization is one of the most cost-effective ways you can reach out to new customers. Proper utilization of SEO means that your website appears on the first page of your customers’ search engine’s results and amounts to more traffic on your site. To get your website more visible on every search engine’s result, you can apply the following strategies; Create quality and relevant content because this helps increase traffic on your website. Your content should easily cater to your foreign consumers in a language they understand. If consumers notice that your website always has new and exciting things, they will keep returning to your page to patronize you. Make use of keywords or phrases people will likely going to use when looking for your type of product or service. It is up to you to decide where to fix them in your content — web pages, URLs, image description, emails, etc. Use longtail words (4 words and above) so you have less competition when a search for similar products is drawn. If you need a guide on the best keywords for your product, Google AdWords is a great place to start your keywords research. Improve your page loading speed, because if your page takes too long to load, then your rankings will be penalized by the search. It is vital to optimizing both your page speed and server response time. Though SEO can be a time-consuming process initially, it gets gratifying once done right. 3. Email marketing Email marketing is a great tool to engage your new and potential consumers multiple times. Using email marketing, you can give your customers compelling reasons to subscribe to your website. Make sure you also keep sending content that will pique their interest and keep them subscribed. You can share discount links, contests, and insider information so they are encouraged to return to your website regularly. Keep them regularly updated on new products, newsletters, blog posts, videos, etc. When building your email list, consider the following tips: Do not request too much information from the mail recipient in the initial signup form. Provide an incentive for signing up, such as a discount or free resource. Have a clear picture of what your email sending frequency will look like, so people know what to expect when emails are submitted. Conclusion While these tips might not generate overnight traffic on your website, remain patient. Observe what works for you and what doesn’t, make the necessary adjustments, and put together a strategy that enables your website to reach more people. Frank Hamilton is a blogger and translator from Manchester. He is a professional writing expert at Writersquad in such topics as blogging, digital marketing, and self-education. He also loves traveling and speaks Spanish, French, German, and English.
Guest Post by Sofia Lockhart Happier workplaces lead to higher productivity and better staff retention rates. The question is how to improve the staff's happiness within the company. It is clear that staff will perform better in an environment where they are happy, motivated, encouraged, and accepted, and this is the area where we want to focus our attention. The process of getting (and keeping) your workforce happy and focused will take some time, but the results will be worthwhile and will give your employees a joyful experience that will help them to want to do more for the company. The five ideas below will set you on the right track to turning your workplace into a positive place. 1. Create an enjoyable workspace Creating a pleasant atmosphere in the workplace is a contribution of many factors, none more so than the space your team works in. Plan an environment that will foster better communication between your team members and management. Use an open plan layout that will bring workers closer together but still give them the quiet space they need to do their job. Use office lighting to create a pleasant working environment that people will feel comfortable spending time in for extended periods. Buy ergonomic office furniture to help people suffer less from lousy posture or sore backs, keeping them happier, healthier, and more productive. Use plants and office furniture to create a more harmonious atmosphere that staff will feel positive working in. 2. Provide the best equipment Making an investment in technology or equipment that will lessen the workload of staff members is essential. Upgrading from a standard printer machine to one that allows employees to use apps with which to print can significantly reduce wasted time. Keep your company laptops and PC software updated with the latest releases to ensure that staff has the best tools to do the job. Use any from a plethora of digital tools that will help you and the staff to collaborate on timesheets, work management, vacation days, customer management, and many other tasks. By providing employees with the latest technology, you will streamline costs and let your workers concentrate on the crucial tasks that generate income. 3. Engage with your staff Your staff is your most valuable asset in the company, and you should treat them in a way that expresses that. Involve staff members in the decision-making process and explain why individual decisions need to be made; keeping them informed will always make them happier employees. Engage with your team on what their immediate and future goals are and try to help them in achieving said goals. Create weekly group meetings to allow everyone to contribute to improving company performance and employee satisfaction. Get to know the people who work with you, and you will gain more insight into how best to motivate them and help them produce their best work. 4. Reward achievements Keep your staff interested in work by providing rewards for good work. Many companies already have a yearly bonus scheme in place, but by adding a few monthly or weekly rewards, you will keep people keen to work. You don't need to break the bank to fund the prizes. The staff prizes can be as simple as a day off, or an early finish, or perhaps tickets for a show or dinner. You can also reward dedicated staff with additional training opportunities and courses that will give you better-skilled staff, and they get a tangible career progression. Always give praise when an employee does exceptional work or gives their spare time to help the company. It has been shown that companies with happier staff perform better than those with disgruntled employees. 5. Trust your team Understand that you can't run a company alone, and you need to delegate tasks out to other people. Allow your staff members to shine by giving them full trust over functions delegated to them. Encourage all the employees to give opinions and have those heard in group meetings. By placing trust on the shoulders of your workers, they will feel part of the company's family and so give their best work. The staff are the most essential part of any company and should be included in making the decisions that determine how they work. The main focus of implementing these strategies is to improve your employee's well-being, which in turn will improve your company. People like to be involved, so take care to ensure that all staff members have a voice and a platform to raise concerns or offer suggestions. Understand what your worker's goals are and be a positive part of helping them achieve them, and you will gain more trust and better insights into what helps improve employee motivation and pride in their work. Your employees are the main assets of the company, and you should put in the time and effort needed to make them happier at work and, by extension, outside of work too. Sofia Lockhart is a passionate writer from Sydney. She also enjoys decorating houses and engaging in home renovation projects. That is why she loves sharing her experience and advice with other people through her writing. Besides this, she loves technology and gadgets which can help us get through a busy workday.
We have 3,164 customer reviews in our Internet Service Provider category — 1,162 are 1 star. It’s frustrating for consumers: 50 million U.S. homes have just one 25 mbps service provider, if that. And 48 percent of homes have only one 25 mbps choice. The lack of options and availability has many Americans stuck with a provider they believe is delivering subpar service. Most categories on our site average around one-third of reviews being 1-star, so the ISP category is slightly above average. We sampled 124 of these 1-star reviews to see what insights — and warnings — they had for other consumers and the industry itself. Here’s a summary of our findings. Below, we’ll give our analysis and tips on avoiding your own 1-star experience: *All reviewers and company names have been removed in the examples below because this study deals with general ISP concerns. If you would like to research a specific company, check out our ISP reviews. General insights Every industry’s reviews has its quirks. For the ISP category, we noticed a couple interesting trends. ISP reviews are long, and they have stories to tell. Reviewers in some other industries might summarize their points more concisely. But for the aggravations of internet companies, many reviewers feel the need to outline their grievances in detail. Frustration A leads to Frustration B, and so on. It becomes a domino effect of bad experiences. Which leads us to our second interesting finding: One third of 1-star reviewers cited a single negative experience that prompted their review. A customer might try to solve a service outage, and they’re put on hold for three hours. Or a customer might want a new modem, and they play phone tag for days. These prompt scathing responses on our review site. This is a compelling data point. Some reviewers even note they were loyal customers for years before the negative experience that prompts their review. Whatever positive experiences this user might have had to make them stay with the company for eight years, this evaporated with one issue. Adam Thompson of ReliaSite notes one potential reason for this occurence. “Research has found that it takes 40 positive customer reviews to outweigh a single negative review," he says. "ISPs, by nature, are more likely to generate negative experiences than positive experiences. That’s because your internet service provider is invisible unless/until something goes wrong. . . This makes it nearly impossible for an ISP to generate the needed 40 positive experiences for every 1 negative experience, meaning that they have an overall negative perception.” Singular negative experiences are less of a concern in categories where users are not locked into a contract or subscription service and where they don’t use a company’s tool on a near-daily basis. For one-off purchases like a logo or hotel, the transaction is often limited to that singular experience, and it’s not unusual if one terrible design or one messy room prompts a bad review. But if you’re a return customer for well over a year and it turns sour in a day, this highlights how vitriolic a negative interaction is with an internet company. Customer service matters. 61% of 1-star reviews complain of poor customer support One of the most common complaints across all categories is poor customer service. If you have an issue, you want it resolved as painlessly as possible. But complaints against ISP customer service are particularly scathing. It’s a familiar story: a customer plays phone tag with their provider for days, waits on hold for hours, faces a maze of automated phone trees, and eventually reaches a customer service rep who can’t help them. These sorts of stories are common in internet company reviews. There are dozens of tools to improve customer service. Users have several options for contacting a company. But has all of this become overwhelming when dealing with internet companies? Are the monopolies on internet service causing call centers and customer support to be overloaded with more users than they can help? As with most things ISP, there’s only so much you can do on your end to ensure you have a positive experience with your provider. But here are some tips that might get you a helpful customer service rep: Read company reviews. Some internet service providers have even worse customer response than others. We have user reviews for dozens of ISPs, categorized by state. See what other customers are saying. Test out a company’s support system before you sign a contract. Try contacting a customer service rep. See how long it takes you to get ahold of someone. Check their phone trees. Are they helpful or confusing? Can you call at any time, day or night? What are other options for contacting them, such as text, in-person, or email? If it’s already frustrating to contact them, imagine how irritating it’ll be when you have a time-sensitive issue. 35% of 1-star reviews complain of unreliable connection Your connection goes in and out, sometimes for hours. Stable internet connection is necessary in today’s world, and it makes sense that this is enough to land ISPs a 1-star review. And sometimes, it’s truly no one’s fault: you live in a dead zone or there’s interference. But other times, you really should blame your ISP. Here’s what you can do to reduce spotty connection and prevent a terrible experience with your internet company: Make sure the problem isn’t on your end. Americans in general don’t know much about troubleshooting their connectivity issues. Sometimes an intermittent Wi-Fi signal is the fault of a budget router or an overload of devices. Do your own troubleshooting, document what you’ve tried, and take your issue (with evidence!) to your ISP when all else fails. That way, they can’t blame the issue on you if you’ve done your homework. Explain the issue as best you can. When is the internet going out? How many people are home? How long does it stay out? Answering these questions can inform the severity of the issue and what measures to take against it. If your ISP is still apathetic, try explaining your extenuating circumstances. Let them know if you work from home or if your internet access is essential. If you have competitors in your area that you could take your business to, mention this. Leverage your knowledge to get the solution you need. 27% of 1-star reviews complain of less than advertised speeds Similar to the issue of unreliable connection, you can have unreliable internet speeds. It’s normal to get a little less than your advertised speed. Your mbps can vary by connection type (Wi-Fi or wired), channels (2.4 GHz vs. 5 GHz), router capabilities, the type of speed test you run, and more. But if you're only getting almost a third of your advertised speed, even when you test these variables? That’s no good. Our tips to prevent this issue will be similar to those addressing an unstable connection: Do your homework before you take the issue to your ISP. You can test different locations for your router, different devices, and QoS (quality of service) settings. Document your findings. This will save you and your ISP a lot of time when you need to speak with customer service. They won’t have to bore you with the “Have you tried turning your router off and on again?” spiel. Explain the competitors' offerings. Does your current company have competitors offering higher speeds? Suggest you will take your business elsewhere. Negotiate a solution to get a quick response.“In today’s world, where everything can be tailored to what I need, internet service providers are the strongholds refusing to adapt,” Leslie Kiel from Insurantly.com asserts. “Because it’s no longer seen as a commodity but a way of life, we are willing to subject ourselves to outrageous business practices. I played the game for a few years: call in to complain, wait for hours, threaten to cancel my service, and then get a credit to my account. After a while though, I realized I could get the same quality from a lesser-known company.” Threaten to cut the cord. Dennis Restauro of Grounded Reason suggests that you can still take control of your situation even if your ISP is the only good provider in the area. Consumers can set a cancellation date for their ISP, not really intending to cancel, and see if the provider will offer a promotional deal, perhaps with higher advertised speeds. “Even if your area lacks competition, this trick may get your current provider to renew your promotional rate,” he suggests. “This is one way consumers can take power back from their ISP.” 26% complain of price transparency and gouging issues; 15% complain of added fees One in four 1-star reviewers believe their ISPs are price gouging, creating fees not outlined in a contract, or scamming them out of money; 15 percent are unhappy with all the extra fees clogging up their bill. When you're a company that doesn't have competition, you can set whatever price you please. For the lucky Americans who live in regions with multiple high-profile providers, you have some leverage: Negotiate your contract. Know what your competitors are charging for their packages. See if you can bundle services for a lower cost. Read your contract, no matter how boring the fine print is. If you want clarity, ask a rep outright what a term from your contract means. Don’t be rushed into any deal without knowing whether there are cancellation fees, equipment fees, or other extra charges. Ensure that any promotional deals you receive over the phone are also obtained in writing. In a worst-case scenario, take legal action. Lauren Sliter of Radvocate provided this advice: “Your options as a customer depend on the severity of the case and the fine print in the contract with your ISP. Many companies require you to resolve disputes with them through individual arbitration.” 25% of 1-star reviews complain of missed or unhelpful technician visits Have you ever called a technician out and wondered why you even bothered to schedule an appointment? Some consumers say their technician never showed up. Sometimes the technician can’t find an issue. This complaint is in the same vein as poor customer support, but the difference is that these in-home visits are supposed to come to the source of an issue and tackle the problem. Not all industries can come to your home to straighten matters out. But consumers wish these technicians would spend more time searching for their problem or working to solve it. Many of these techs are on tight schedules and are booked for days or even weeks out. If they have only thirty minutes to address your spotty connection, they might have to come back later. And who knows when “later” may be? While ISPs should provide more technicians to address consumer complaints, consumers themselves can take a few steps that might lead to a more positive experience with a service tech: Be flexible. Most customers will want their techs to visit on weekday evenings or weekends. If there’s any possibility you can be available at another time, take the chance. Openings can be rare, so seize an opportunity. Check in with your tech. If you can, call the tech or the representative who sent them to ensure the appointment is still happening. Some customers complain that their tech never showed up, and customer service claimed the appointment had been cancelled. Spend time with your tech. Ask them what they think is the issue and see what they do to resolve it. Maybe next time, the problem is something you could fix yourself. Otherwise, you can inform any future techs what the last servicer did to remove the issue. The takeaway In the case of negative ISP reviews, there’s often much more at play than the fault of an intemperate customer. Lack of competition is giving internet service providers leverage over their customers. ISPs have a history of buying out the competition and suing startup companies that threaten their service regions. Some ISPs don’t care that their customer service is bad, their prices are unreasonable, or their connection is spotty. A lack of alternatives will allow them to retain customers. It might not hurt to try a local company or smaller provider, or it might be best to stick with some of the few major providers with a track record of success. But whatever you do, be aware that your options are limited, and unless high-level change occurs, it’s likely to stay this way. Try to use the tips we've provided to your advantage when resolving a problem with your ISP.
You have a checklist of considerations running through your head before every livestream: How’s your mic? Is your environment clean? Have you optimized your computer’s settings? But perhaps the most volatile, unpredictable, and exasperating element of streaming is internet service. You’re held at the mercy of a tenuous connection from your faceless ISP, who could graciously grant a steady stream or a series of internet shortages. And if you’re new to streaming, you could also be new to maximizing your connection. But it really doesn’t have to be so intimidating. Many streamers face their own challenges finding the right provider or choosing the correct internet equipment. We’ll nail down the basics for you so you have one less thing to worry about. How do I choose a provider for streaming? Selecting an internet provider isn’t as easy as it looks. Many providers make it difficult to check the availability in your area (without first submitting your email address and phone number, of course), and a majority of regions in the United States only have two providers offering 25 mbps or more. Because of the low competition, providers have little incentive to improve customer service, streamline setup, or offer their advertised speeds. That means the responsibility to choose wisely falls on you, and there’s only so much you can do. To start, find the servicers in your region. BroadbandNow allows you to search for providers by ZIP code without submitting your personal information. It also details what type of connection you could be getting with that provider. Which types would be best for gaming? “Fiber services often offer the fastest simultaneous upload and download speeds,” Tyler Cooper of BroadbandNow explains, “but many cable providers can also meet the needs of most streamers.” Most experts agree that you’ll want at least 25 mbps download speed. However, some experts even suggest that you should up the speed based on device usage, number of household members, and number of devices in the home. High Speed Experts and Allconnect both have guides on your speed needs based on your device activity, if you’d like to take a closer look. Then you’ll need to take into account customer service, the actual versus advertised speed, contract lengths, and whether there are frequent service shortages. Read some reviews to get a feel for public opinion. High speeds and low prices can only get you so far if you have poor customer service and hidden fees to deal with. You may already be researching your options for gigabit fiber internet, but Twitch streamer Shawna Howson (ShawnaForLunch) explains that this hasn’t been necessary in her own situation. “In my area, it's impossible to get fiber,” she says, “so I still have a pretty basic package. Making sure you have a decent upload speed is the most important thing.” So that will be the pièce de résistance: your upload speed. What upload speed do I need to stream? While your download speed controls all incoming activities, your upload speed affects everything outgoing, including your stream. This can be a lot lower than the download speed, and with most providers, it will be. If you want to stream at 720p with 30 fps, aim for a minimum upload speed of 6 mbps. Your ideal speed will vary based on your desired quality and method of encoding, but for many beginning streamers, these settings are an ideal sweet spot between high quality and low latency. However, it’s best to play it safe and have more mbps rather than less. “As a baseline, I'd recommend a minimum upload and download speed of 15 mbps for anyone looking to get into video game streaming,” Cooper suggests. “Nearly every national provider has plans that meet this threshold, but be sure to do some research into what is available in your area to get the best service possible.” Twitch streamer PapaXilion shares his take with us on a minimum upload speed: “A real minimum is 2000kbps/2mbps . . . Anything below that will definitely impact your stream quality — you'll lose frames, or get really pixelated/blurry.” How can I make sure my internet connection is fast and stable? While you can still fall prey to connection errors on your ISP’s end, there are some actions you can take to make sure you aren’t the reason your stream is lagging. First, check to see if you’re getting your advertised speeds. Gustavo Carvalho from Copahost suggests using speedtest.net. “It has multiple locations and allows you to test your connection wherever you need,” Carvalho explains. Next, test your ping rate. Your ping rate will determine your connection’s reaction time, and High Speed Experts will teach you how to check your ping. Even with a fast download and upload speed, your ping rate and latency could impact stream quality. Use a wired connection. PapaXilion suggests that “if you are on wireless, or using really old network cables (or an old router), maybe it's time to invest in new hardware. Cables don't cost much and can make a difference, as can a new router.” Hardware drifts into obsoletion fairly quickly these days; it’s worth checking to see if your ethernet cable is an issue. But if you can’t get a wired connection, don’t sweat it. “I use a wireless connection,” Howson tells us. “It's widely known that a wired connection is more reliable by far. Unfortunately, my streaming area makes it difficult to do this, so I work within my circumstances. I have had the occasional issue, but it's minimal enough for me to get by, and it rarely detracts from my work as a part-time streamer.” You might be more likely to run into hiccups without a wired connection, but that shouldn’t stop you from streaming. If you do choose to go wireless, you can use QoS settings to prioritize your device. Or, you can try Howson’s method: “I do have a separate, prioritized access point to my network for my streaming device to put the stream first in the house, as multiple people use the internet,” Howson explains. This could be ideal for streamers living with housemates or family. Another way you can prevent housemates from hogging the internet is by creating house rules. “Make agreements on what you can and can't do,” PapaXilion advises. “If someone starts uploading their latest YouTube video while you stream, it's gonna hurt.” We cover more on housemate agreements in our apartment internet guide. But most importantly, even if you don’t have the fastest internet or the most expensive tools, don’t be discouraged. Many regions of the United States have limited options for internet packages with quality upload and download speeds. “I wouldn't discourage anyone from streaming if they have a bit less,” Howson says. “You may run into the occasional issue, but it shouldn't stop you from working with what you have.” Read also: How to Improve Wi-Fi and Internet Speed in an Apartment
Imagine your relief if you had one less utility to pay for. In some American families, this could make the difference between going hungry and putting more meals on the table. But with the internet becoming an essential tool for succeeding in careers and education, it’s not as easy as canceling your plan and going about your day — your internet connection is often critical to several routine activities. So what can you do? There are several alternatives to your expensive internet plan, and you could be surprised by the number of options you can choose to lower your bill. Where can I find free internet service for a temporary lapse? Before we jump into the more rigorous alternatives below, it’s worth reminding readers that public Wi-Fi can offer you free service. In temporary situations where you’re trying to save money or between plans, this can be a handy tool. “You can find free internet almost anywhere,” Cam Finley of Real Home Jobs Now explains. “Local libraries, restaurants, coffee shops, and other businesses offer free Wi-Fi to their customers. Libraries are a plus because they will typically offer timed use of computers too if necessary.” Using a tool like WiFi Map can help you find Wi-Fi hotspots near you. This can be handy for those who also lack access to transportation and might not have a library within traveling distance. Some other places to find free Wi-Fi include museums, hotels, stores, and gyms The issue with any free public Wi-Fi is security. A free Wi-Fi hotspot is just as easily accessed by a hacker as it is by you. Also, many public services will be able to see your activity unless you’re browsing using a proxy or virtual private network (VPN). If what you’re researching is personal, public Wi-Fi isn’t the way to go. Libraries sometimes let you check out free Wi-Fi hotspots, which are devices that allow you to use the internet in your home. This is in addition to a library’s myriad of free services such as online courses and streaming subscriptions; look into what your state’s libraries offer and take advantage of these assets. Or, if you have a device capable, you can use your phone as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot — your phone acts as the router that allows you to connect other devices. Many phone plans now offer unlimited data, meaning you don’t have to worry about data caps as you surf. If you can’t pay for both a phone plan and internet plan, this might be a temporary fix. Can you get free internet at home? Yes, you can get free internet regardless of your income status. If you have a phone landline, you can search for free dial-up internet options such as NetZero and Juno. They do have ads, they might limit your monthly access time, and dial-up has the slowest internet speed of any type of service available. But, dial-up service can get a basic job done. This option isn’t appealing if you have money to spend on a higher quality plan. What’s more likely to win you over is the option of municipal wireless internet. Free, citywide internet is catching on in several parts of the United States, and you could be the lucky resident of one of these areas. While the upload and download speeds of many free municipal plans aren’t great, they beat dial-up. And they can also beat traveling to a public location to access free Wi-Fi hotspots. Can low income families get free internet? Low income families have more options than free dial-up and municipal wireless internet. Though internet service providers don’t openly advertise this, many of them offer reduced rates for low income households. These reduced ISP plans provide a balance between cost effectiveness and speed. They aren’t free, but they’re more affordable than your average $50 per month bill. Take a look at your bandwidth needs; reduced plans won’t get you gigabit internet. “No matter who you select as an internet service provider, you should first consider your bandwidth needs,” Reuben Yonatan, Founder and CEO of GetVOIP, says. “Do you need more than 100 mbps? If so, you're unlikely to find coverage for less than $70 per month (Fiber 1000 through Google Fiber).” If this sounds okay to you, Finley recommends EveryoneOn as a place to search for reduced plans. “[It’s] a non-profit organization whose mission is to create social and economic opportunity by connecting everyone to the internet. Search for low-cost internet and device offers by zip code at everyoneon.org.” If you want to know the kinds of plans you might find, Patrick Ward, Editor-in-Chief of High Speed Experts, lists three options: the AT&T Access Program, the Comcast Internet Essentials, and the Spectrum Internet Assist program. “The AT&T Access ProgramRequirements: At least one resident in-house participating in U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Address within AT&T's 21-state service area. Must not have any outstanding payments due to AT&T in the last six months or existing debt from program itself.Service: You receive no commitment, no deposit, no installation fee, no modem fee, and internet for $5–$10 per month. Internet Essentials from ComcastRequirements: At least one child eligible for National School Lunch Program. Must not have been subscribed to regular Comcast service within the previous 90 days. Must not have any non-returned equipment or outstanding payments due to Comcast. Service: You receive no installation fee, no credit check, no contract, In-Home Wi-Fi, 15 Mbps, and internet for $9.95 per month. Spectrum Internet AssistRequirements: Must qualify for National School Lunch Program, Community Eligibility Program, or Social Security Income. Must not be a current Spectrum subscriber. Service: You receive a free modem, no contract, and internet for $14.99 per month.” Read reviews on AT&T, Comcast Xfinity, and Spectrum to get a better understanding of which may be right for you. These plans are cheaper than many TV streaming subscriptions, which is a far cry from full-price internet service. It’s worth noting that Cox and Mediacom also offer Connect2Compete reduced plans for $9.95 per month. Both plans require a household to have a K–12 student who’s receiving free or reduced lunch through the National School Lunch Program. Your help doesn’t end there. “One option for low income individuals is the Federal Communication Commissions program, Lifeline,” Helen Black, Editor-in-Chief of Kill the Cable Bill says. “This program provides those who qualify with a $9.25 per month subsidy towards your internet bill.” Not all internet service providers offer Lifeline, but CenturyLink internet is one major providers that does. The Universal Service Administration Co. lets you view eligibility requirements and find eligible providers in your location. These reduced plans may not offer high speeds, but many experts claim that prioritizing your devices and using ethernet cables rather than Wi-Fi can reduce the amount of speed you need altogether. Read also: How to Improve Wi-Fi Speeds in an Apartment What are cheap high-speed internet options? If none of these ideas look ideal for you, you can also look for cheaper plans that still offer high-speed internet. Ward’s team at High Speed Experts created a helpful resource on cheap internet plans that deliver quality mbps bang for your buck. For whichever company you consider, be sure to read their reviews.
Your Wi-Fi typically gets the job done, but at 5 p.m. on a Friday night in your apartment complex, with your roommates blasting a movie with ten of their closest friends in the other room, you can’t seem to get any connection. What needs to change? These tips will help you boost connectivity speed in an apartment and prevent this from happening again. Check your internet Can your Internet plan handle your Wi-Fi demands? “Don't forget to test the internet bandwidth that you are getting from the provider to ensure you’re getting what you paid for,” IT Consultant Trevor Textor advises. “Use an Ethernet cable for this, never use wireless.” Textor recommends running this bandwidth test, and plugging a device into your modem using an Ethernet cable, to determine if you’re getting the megabits your plan advertises. Your upload speed will affect outgoing activities such as video calling or sending an email; your download speed will affect incoming activities such as streaming video or downloading files. A 25 mbps download speed is typically good for most common device activities. Your upload speed can be much lower. For live streamers emphasizing even the highest quality, 15 mbps could be overkill.If you’re getting less than your plan claims, talk to your provider about sending a servicer to help. If this still doesn’t resolve the issue, look for other ISPs in your area and do your homework on their pros and cons. If your problem begins here with internet, you’ll want to upgrade your plan or find a better one offering higher speeds. Move the router There might be too many barriers to establish a strong connection between your router and your device. “Try to place it in the center of the apartment if you need to cover the entire place,” Nick Galov of HostingTribunal.com suggests. “If, however, you need it most in one room, try placing the router close to you.” Are you the one paying the internet bill? Give yourself the credit and keep the router close to your bedroom.However, if you’re all playing equally, here’s where you should put it: “In a one-story apartment, the best place for your router is on a living room shelf halfway up the wall,” Kristin Cooke of HighSpeedInternet.com suggests. Buy a Wi-Fi range extender or powerline adapter “Not everyone is situated evenly and there are walls in the way,” Jamie Cambell, founder of GoBestVPN, explains. “One workaround is a repeater or Wi-Fi extender.” A range extender will repeat the wireless signal from your router to a different location with a poor signal in your home. For some devices, such as gaming consoles or laptops, you can connect an Ethernet cable directly to an extender for a better connection. This will keep your important devices from having to compete for a congested network.Powerline adapters follow similar principles but using two adapters plugged into home outlets rather than a wireless connection. One outlet is wired to the router via Ethernet cable, and the other adapter is plugged in by your device with a separate Ethernet cable leading to your device. Powerline adapters are considered more reliable than extenders because of their Ethernet connection to the router. Upgrade your router Sometimes your router is simply outdated. “The router could be a decade old and cannot support modern speeds,” Cambell says. “The best routers can not only handle more bandwidth, but have better processors to properly manage the traffic as well.” “Routers are essentially PCs with purpose built software,” Textor explains in an article on improving home internet. “They make them cheaper by putting in less expensive CPUs and less memory. A router above $200 will actually weigh more . . . More CPU and memory takes more metal.” Look for a router that holds features such as 802.11ac specifications, dual-band networking, and a Quality of Service feature. Check your channels and prioritize devices Most routers are dual-band and prioritize devices between faster short-distance 5Ghz and slower long-range 2.4Ghz channels. “For Wi-Fi in an apartment, the single best thing to do is to use 5.8Ghz, never 2.4Ghz,” Textor explains. “In fact, turn off the 2.4 Ghz radio.“Make sure your router also has the capability to prioritize your devices. Textor says, “With a proper Wi-Fi router, you can also apply Quality of Service (QoS) settings. This can be a simple as telling the router which devices have the most priority.” Research how to use this function for your specific router; QoS can also determine which applications, such as Netflix or Skype, will have priority. Create house rules “It may happen that there are too many people connected to your Wi-Fi (if you or your roommate have shared a password with others),” Galov says. “Also, illegal downloading or streaming may significantly affect internet speed.” When you have more people in your home, you’ll have more trouble connecting wirelessly. And if all these people are trying to enjoy activities that hog bandwidth, such as streaming and gaming, you may need to start scheduling these activities. While you might discourage torrenting altogether because of legal ramifications with copyrighted material, Cambell says, “Do not torrent during ‘awake’ hours! Set maximum connection limits (for example, 50) for torrents.” You can create similar rules for other activities, such as online gaming: “If one of your roommates does online gaming, make sure they download new games in the middle of the night or you could be blocked out for hours at a time,” Cooke advises.Sharing Wi-Fi is a lot like sharing a physical space, like a kitchen. If you’re using all the oven burners and the microwave when another roommate wants to cook dinner, there could be a problem. If your roommate is Twitch streaming a game and you need to FaceTime your mom, there could be a problem. And that’s why Wi-Fi usage needs to be negotiated like it’s a physical space. This is where router Quality of Service will come in handy. “Perhaps each roommate gets to only have one device that is super high priority,” Textor suggests. You can talk with roommates and family members about the problem and adjust your router’s QoS settings to make this happen.
Everyone wants the best internet service at the best possible price. As the industry develops, the technology changes and allows for faster and faster internet speeds. When setting up your internet service, you want to be sure that you will have the speed you need, a price that fits your budget, and good internet security. There are many internet service providers. Each has different offerings that may vary zip code to zip code. We’ve done the the research to provide you with a side-by-side comparison of CenturyLink, Cox, and Xfinity. Which company is the best? While all three companies offer competitive speeds and internet service plan options, CenturyLink stands out for its Price for Life plans that do not require contracts. High speed internet Internet speed is generally measured in megabits per second (Mbps). It’s how fast data can be downloaded to your computer or your TV. Some of the fastest speed available are measured in gigabits per second (Gbps). 1000 Mbps is the same as 1Gbps. The speeds offered by each company usually vary location to location, so the fastest speeds may not always be available in your area. Check the service provider’s website to determine what speeds are available to you. Internet speed is also affected by how many devices are using the internet at a given time and can be affected by power outages and weather. What speed do I need? The speed you need depends on several factors including the number of devices on the internet and what the internet is being used for. BroadbandNow recommends 25 Mbps for most people. Video gamers may need more speed for online games. What speeds are available? CenturyLink 20 Mbps 40-80 Mbps 100-140 Mbps 1000 Mbps Cox 10 Mbps 30 Mbps 100 Mbps 300 Mbps 1000 Mbps Xfinity 15 Mbps 60 Mbps 150 Mbps 250 Mbps 400 Mbps 1000 Mbps 2000 Mbps How expensive is internet service? Internet providers charge a monthly fee for service. These fees vary based on location and internet speed purchased. Most companies require a certain kind of modem or router for setting up secure wireless internet. The equipment can be rented with an additional charge per month or can be bought at the beginning of the contract. Other one time fees include an activation fee and an installation fee. If the internet service is purchased with a contract, customers will pay an early termination fee for ending their service early. Monthly costs at a glance CenturyLink Up to 20 Mbps: $45 Up to 40-80 Mbps: $55 Up to 100-140 Mbps: $65 Equipment Rental: $10 Cox 10 Mbps: $49.99 30 Mbps: $66.99 100 Mbps: $87.99 300 Mbps: $104.99 1000 Mbps: $119.99 Equipment Rental: Undisclosed Xfinity 15Mbps: $49.95-$51.95 60 Mbps-1000 Mbps: $59.95-$66.95 + upgrade surcharge 2000 Mbps: $299.95 Equipment Rental: Undisclosed How much does CenturyLink cost? CenturyLink has three Price for Life plans. These plans are month-to-month and the rate remains fixed for as long as a customer stays with CenturyLink. Monthly rates for the Price for Life plans vary based on speed. The prices listed here do not include applicable taxes or equipment rental fees: Up to 20 Mbps: $45/month Up to 40-80 Mbps: $55/month Up to 100-140 Mbps: $65/month CenturyLink also offers an online deal for fiber internet with 1000 Mbps for $65 per month. Customers who choose to rent equipment from CenturyLink will be charged an additional $10 per month in rental fees. Alternatively, customers can purchase equipment upfront. The upfront cost can be as much as $150. CenturyLink allows customers to self-install the internet or have it professionally installed for $125. There is no early termination fee with CenturyLink, because its internet service is month-to-month. The total cost, excluding taxes, for the first month with CenturyLink is between $55-$340 depending on the services requested. How much does Cox cost? Cox offers five internet plans to residential consumers. These plans come with a one-year contract. If customers prefers a no-term service agreement, they can pay an extra $10 per month for month-to-month service. The prices below do not include applicable taxes, month-to-month fee, or equipment rental: Cox Internet Starter 10 (10 Mbps): $49.99/month Cox Internet Essential 30 (30 Mbps): $66.99/month Cox Internet Preferred 100 (100 Mbps): $87.99/month Cox Internet Ultimate (300 Mbps): $104.99/month Gigablast (1000 Mbps): $119.99/month There are discounted prices available for new customers. These discounted prices only last the first 12 months. Cox’s activation fee, installation fee, equipment purchase fee, and monthly equipment rental fees were not disclosed on its website. Interested customers will have to contact Cox directly for more information regarding these fees. Cox does allow customers to use non-Cox equipment as long as it meets its requirements. Customers who choose to have a contract for their internet will be subject to an early termination fee if they end the contract early after the first 30 days. This fee can be up to $120. How much does Xfinity cost? Xfinity has three main internet plans. Most of its internet plans require a one-year contract. Some plans have the option to be contract-free with an additional $10-$35 per month depending on the speed. Most plans that are contract free cost an additional $20 per month. The monthly prices listed below are for one-year contracts (unless otherwise noted) and do not include applicable taxes or additional fees. Performance Starter Internet (15Mbps): $49.95-$51.95/month Performance Plus Internet (60 Mbps-1000 Mbps): $59.95-$66.95/month With 150 Mbps can upgrade to Performance Pro Internet for extra $15/month With 250 Mbps can upgrade to Blast!® Pro Internet for an extra $30/month With 400 Mbps can upgrade to Extreme Pro for an extra $45/month With 1000 Mbps can upgrade to Gigabit Pro Internet for extra $60/month Gigabit Pro Internet (2000 Mbps): $299.95/month (2-year contract) Xfinity also provides discounted promotional rates to new customers. These rates last one or two years depending on the specific terms of the plan. Xfinity charges fees for the following: Activation Installation Equipment purchase Equipment rental Early termination The fee amount for each of these items was not easily found on Xfinity’s website. Interested customers will need to contact Xfinity directly. Xfinity does have an option for customers to self-install their internet. Customers can also purchase a modem and a router independently as long as they meet Xfinity’s requirements. Xfinity offers a 30-day, money-back guarantee. If a customer cancels within the first 30-days, Xfinity will refund the customer up to $500. Data caps It’s common for internet service providers to set a limit on monthly data usage. Exceeding the limit can result in additional fees or slower data. CenturyLink Monthly Limit: Undisclosed Excess Surcharge: Undisclosed Data Rollover: Undisclosed Cox Monthly Limit: 1 TB (1024 GB) Excess Surcharge: $10/up to 50 GB used Data Rollover: No Xfinity Monthly Limit: 1 TB (1024 GB) with some plans Excess Surcharge: Undisclosed Data Rollover: Undisclosed Additional Features Internet service providers provide the following additional features with their internet plans: Security software Specialized hardware (modems and routers) Technical support What additional features come with CenturyLink? CenturyLink offers the following security services with some of its internet plans: Anti-virus protection Computer check-ups Identify Guard® Basic Protection® 24/7 tech support Online back-up from Norton™ AntiVirus Online Service Customers buying a plan without the security services can subscribe to the same services by purchasing a CenturyLink @Ease® Package for a monthly fee. What additional features come with Cox? All of Cox’s internet plans include Cox Security Suite Plus by McAfee. This service helps maintain your internet’s security and enhances the security of up to five devices. Cox subscribers are also able to have up to 10 email accounts through Cox. Cox provides in-home Wi-Fi support 8AM-midnight every day for customers renting equipment. Customers who would like technical support can subscribe to Cox Complete Care (SM) for the same services. Cox Complete Care (SM) includes the following: 24/7 remote technical support and security Internet wiring repairs Customer training and education Hot spots Cox’s Preferred 100 plans and higher also come with access to Cox Wi-Fi hotspots. This feature is handy for people who travel frequently. Featured hardware Cox offers specially designed internet equipment: Panoramic WiFi (SM) Modem Panoramic WiFi Extender This equipment is designed to create steady wireless internet service throughout a customer’s home. Cox technicians install the equipment to make sure it is set up to maximize performance. Wi-Fi configured via this hardware can be managed from smart phones through the Cox Connect app. What additional features come with Xfinity? Xfinity offers the following benefits to its customers: 24/7 support Easy-to-use self service apps Guaranteed 2-hour appointment window Hot spot access Hot spots Hot spots are not available everywhere. Only customers with a Performance Plus Internet subscribers have unlimited access. Performance Starter customers can be granted access with 40 1-hour passes every 30 days. Featured hardware Xfinity has its own modem router called xFi Gateway. It provides consistent speeds and good wireless coverage. Customers can also use the modem router to monitor internet activity by device, set parental controls, and turn off Wi-Fi for certain periods of time. All of these control features are available on a mobile app. The xFi security system that comes with xFi Gateway also protects from malware. Xfinity also offers Norton™ Security Online for PC, Mac, and mobile, can add Norton™ Secure VPN. To bundle or not to bundle? Many internet service companies also offer other services, like phone, TV, and home security. Customers interested in purchasing these services anyway may be able to save money by bundling. Purchasing multiple services from a company can be more cost effective than purchasing them separately. What bundling options does CenturyLink have? Customers purchasing internet service from CenturyLink can add phone and TV service to their purchase and receive discounted rates. CenturyLink’s bundling options require a two-year contract. The promotional pricing for DirecTV lasts one year. The promotional rates are between $80 and $120 per month depending on customer location, which services are selected, internet speed, and kind of TV service. These rates exclude equipment fees. With these bundling options, CenturyLink charges a $19.95 activation fee. Because these bundles come with contracts, there is an early termination fee of $20 per month remaining on the contract. What bundling options does Cox have? Like CenturyLink, Cox offers phone and TV service in addition to internet. Cox also offers home security and automation services. Cox’s bundling options also come with a two-year contract. The monthly costs (excluding taxes) range between $61.99 and $332.46. The promotional rates are between $49.99 and $179.99. These rates last one to two years depending on bundle terms. These rates vary based on customer location and services bundled. What bundling options does Xfinity have? Xfinity offers TV service, phone service, and home security service in addition to internet service. Customers can bundle services with a two-year contract. The promotional monthly rates fall between $34 and $190 per month excluding taxes. Xfinity charges additional service fees for Broadcast TV, Regional Sports, AnyRoom DVR, HD Technology, and voice activation. CenturyLink vs Cox CenturyLink Cox Speeds Available Up to 20 Mbps Up to 40-80 Mbps Up to 100-140 Mbps Up to 1000 Mbps 10 Mbps 30 Mbps 100 Mbps 300 Mbps 1000 Mbps Monthly Costs Internet Service Equipment Rental Up to 20 Mbps: $45 Up to 40-80 Mbps: $55 Up to 100-140 Mbps: $65 Rental: $10 10 Mbps: $49.99 30 Mbps: $66.99 100 Mbps: $87.99 300 Mbps: $104.99 1000 Mbps: $119.99 Rental: Undisclosed One-time Costs Activation Installation Equipment Purchase Undisclosed Self-install or $125 Up to $150 Undisclosed Undisclosed Undisclosed Early Termination Fee Not Applicable Up to $120 Contract Type Month-to-month One-year or Month-to-month (+$10/month) Data Caps Undisclosed 1 TB (1024 GB) Additional Features Security Tech Support Hot Spots Featured Hardware Yes Yes Undisclosed Undisclosed Yes Yes Yes Yes Bundling Services Phone TV Home Security Automation Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Bundling Contract Typ Two-year Two-year Additional Bundling Fees $19.95 Activation Fee Undisclosed Bundling Early Termination Fee $20/month left on contract Undisclosed CenturyLink vs Xfinity CenturyLink Xfinity Speeds Available Up to 20 Mbps Up to 40-80 Mbps Up to 100-140 Mbps Up to 1000 Mbps 15 Mbps 60 Mbps 150 Mbps 250 Mbps 400 Mbps 1000 Mbps 2000 Mbps Monthly Costs Internet Service Equipment Rental Up to 20 Mbps: $45 Up to 40-80 Mbps: $55 Up to 100-140 Mbps: $65 Rental: $10 15 Mbps: $49.95-$51.95 60-1000 Mbps: $59.95-$66.95 + upgrade surcharge 2000 Mbps: $299.95 Rental: Undisclosed One-time Costs Activation Installation Equipment Purchase Undisclosed Self-install or $125 Up to $150 Undisclosed Undisclosed Undisclosed Early Termination Fee Not Applicable Undisclosed Contract Type Month-to-month One-year, two-year, or Month-to-month (+$10-$35/month) Data Caps Undisclosed 1 TB (1024 GB) with some plans Additional Features Security Tech Support Hot Spots Featured Hardware Yes Yes Undisclosed Undisclosed Yes Yes Yes Yes Bundling Services Phone TV Home Security Automation Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes No Bundling Contract Typ Two-year Two-year Additional Bundling Fees $19.95 Activation Fee Undisclosed Bundling Early Termination Fee $20/month left on contract Undisclosed While Xfinity and Cox have some excellent bonus features and more bundling options, CenturyLink has lower monthly costs. Customers on one of CenturyLink’s Price for Life plans don’t have to worry about rate increases or contracts. While additional information about data caps and surcharges would be nice, CenturyLink is much more transparent about its rates and fees. Customers who are looking to bundle services with home security or interested in more speed options and higher speeds should consider Xfinity and Cox.
There are many benefits to the internet — improved information sharing, streaming TV and movies, and social engagement.The internet also poses risks. We share a lot of personal information online. While we can select privacy settings on most social media networks, we should also make sure our internet connection is secure.Below are three recommendations from internet security experts: Add a firewall Perhaps the most well-known firewall is the one in China that restricts Google, Facebook, and Twitter. On a smaller scale, a firewall increases internet security because it controls the kind of traffic allowed on your server. Jason Glassberg, Co-founder of Casaba Security advises, “It's a good idea to consider adding a firewall particularly if you live in an apartment building or do sensitive tasks over Wi-Fi. An inbound and outbound firewall is best.” A firewall can keep unauthorized devices from accessing your internet service, which is a great protection from moochers and hackers. As you configure your firewall, make sure you configure it correctly.Phillip Livingston, who is experienced in the IT industry and currently owns SEO it, says, “One of the leading causes of compromised computer networks is misconfigured firewalls. Close all unnecessary ports on your router.” Routers have several kinds of internet ports. Some of them can be useful when open but can also create unnecessary security risk. “A lot of people enable remote desktop protocol, port 3389, so they can access their computers from the internet. They also leave port 21 open so they can access their files remotely. This leaves their network susceptible to brute force attacks. The best alternative is to disable those ports and use a VPN instead. It’s more secure,” says Livingston. Use a VPN A VPN is a virtual private network. It is another great way to enhance your internet security and protect your personal information.Paul Bischoff, privacy advocate at Comparitech.com, says, “Even if a hacker has infiltrated your wireless router, using a VPN on your phone or laptop will encrypt all your internet traffic before it leaves the device. This will make it impossible for a hacker to decipher anything they happen to intercept.”A VPN can be accessed by most devices that access the internet, like routers, mobile phones, computers, and tablets. VPN companies offer subscriptions to VPNs. The subscription fee varies depending on the company, but generally hovers around $6 per month. Purchasing a VPN service contract from a reputable company is an inexpensive way to protect your personal information. Create a guest Wi-Fi network Setting up your Wi-Fi network into your personal Wi-Fi network and a guest Wi-Fi network can help protect your personal information.Sophie Miles, CEO and Co-founder of elMejorTrato.com.co, says, “A Wi-Fi network for guests is nothing more and nothing less than an SSID isolated from the main one.” SSID stands for service set identifier. It is the name of the Wi-Fi network.“This allows two actions at the same time: People who connect to this network have access to the internet and isolate the equipment from the domestic Wi-Fi network and Local Area Network (LAN) of the users of this SSID, avoiding unauthorized access,” Miles says.In other words, it permits internet while isolating your personal devices from visitor devices accessing your Wi-Fi via guest access.“It’s hard to control what sites your guests visit or what they download, but you can control the Wi-Fi they use. By having two networks, you don’t have to worry about your personal information being compromised,” says Holly Zink, a tech and online security expert for Safeguarde.Setting up a guest Wi-Fi network has other security benefits.“The purpose of creating this network is simply to enable the connection of users without offering the password of our Wi-Fi network, thus avoiding having to change the password periodically,” says Miles.