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Servers and Networking

What is a 169 IP address?

If you’ve been around computers long enough, you know an IP address that starts with 169.254 usually means trouble. But what is a 169 IP address, what does it mean, and how do you fix it?

A 169.254 IP address is called an APIPA IP address. Your computer receives a 169 APIPA address when it can’t get an address from the DHCP server.

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What is RS-232?

Many vintage computers have RS-232 ports, and some current equipment does too, especially network switches. But what is RS-232? And why did it only partly fall out of favor? And what about RS-232C? I’ll try to clear up the confusion.

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What does a TP-Link do?

What does a TP-Link do? It depends on which product you’re asking about. But all of TP-Link’s products allow computers, game systems, and mobile devices to network together, so they can share things like a printer and an Internet connection.

TP-Link makes a number of devices, including routers, access points, switches, network cards, and powerline adapters. What these have in common is they all create or extend computer networks, either wired or wireless.

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What is Dedicated Band Control?

I was reading about wireless mesh networks and kept finding reviews that penalized devices for not having dedicated band control. But they never explained what this thing meant. Why not explain it if it’s important? What is dedicated band control, and do you need it?

Dedicated band control is simply having the ability to create separate settings, including SSIDs, for your 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. Whether you need dedicated band control depends on the types of devices you have, or expect to have in the future.

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Increase powerline speed with these weird tricks

For Christmas we replaced the entertainment center in our living room we’ve had for 10 years. That meant disconnecting and untangling 10 years’ worth of wiring. I also ran into some problems with my networking. One problem was absurdly low speed. So I looked into ways to increase powerline speed. While it’s still not great, it’s much more usable now.

Generally speaking, to increase powerline speed, you need adapters with a top speed that seems reasonable to you. Assuming you have fairly quick, up-to-date adapters, you should plug them directly into the wall, place them as close to each other as possible, try to avoid using them on circuits that have arc fault breakers on them, avoid having motors and other heavy appliances on the same circuit as the end that plugs into your switch or router, and, ideally, plug them both into outlets on the same circuit breaker.

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Asus dual WAN router with AT&T Internet

AT&T Internet uses its own residential gateway that isn’t very powerful or configurable. For a while I used an AT&T U-Verse connection as a failover for my home network, since I work from home and Spectrum outages meant I couldn’t work. So here’s how I configured an Asus dual WAN router with AT&T Internet, using AT&T U-Verse as a secondary connection, with Charter Spectrum on my primary. This will also work the same way with AT&T Fiber.

I switched back from Spectrum to AT&T exclusively. Here’s why. But you may want to set up failover between AT&T and another provider. It worked reasonably well for me, and it’ll probably work at least as well for you, too.

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How often should you replace your router?

How often should you replace your router? That’s a harder question than how often you should change the oil in your car, or how often you should replace your hot water heater. Unlike a laptop, I can’t really predict when your router is going to break. And a router may go obsolete for me faster than it goes obsolete for you. But I can give you some guidance.

Sometimes your ISP will provide a router. They may or may not charge for this. It’s worth making a phone call to see. If they charge you some kind of a rental fee, it’s cheaper to buy your own router. If they don’t charge you, and keeping it running and maintained is their problem, not yours, you might as well take them up on the offer. I think the potential to save $100 is worth a phone call.

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How to find my router IP

It’s hard to know how to find my router IP address, since it’s arbitrary. Usually your router lives at one end or the other of your network, but there’s no reason why it has to. So if someone decided to get tricky, here’s how to find it.

There was a time when knowing your router IP was a matter of survival, but these days networking normally configures itself, using a technology called DHCP. That puts your router IP address out of sight and out of mind. But it turns out there are several ways to find the router IP, and some of them work no matter what kind of computer you have.

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What is a runbook?

What is a runbook? It’s an IT phrase you hear thrown around a lot these days and everyone assumes you know what one is. I actually wrote runbooks at a couple of different points in my career without knowing that’s what I was doing. So it’s OK if you don’t know what one is. I’ll explain it.

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