How to get good Wi-Fi reception in an old house


Q: We have 114 megabit cable internet service in a century-old house. When we stream to our TVs, we constantly have buffering issues (delays while the TV waits for the streaming to catch up). We have the most buffering delays with the TV on the second floor (about 10 feet across a wall from the wireless router) and two TVs on the first floor (10-15 feet from the router at through the ground). We almost always broadcast to one TV at a time, although two computers are using the Internet at the same time. Are computers causing the TV to buffer? What can we do? —David Fiebiger, Duluth, Minn.

A: Sharing an internet connection between multiple devices can cause issues, but it is not the source of your TV’s buffering issue. Your 114 megabit download speed can easily support a streaming TV and two computers doing more mundane tasks (see tinyurl.com/2ae9trsy).

The walls and floor of your century-old home are more likely to partially block Wi-Fi signals. This could be caused by the building materials used at the time; some insulation from the 1920s and 1930s contained reflective aluminum or copper surfaces (see tinyurl.com/3vs5reev).

One solution is to distribute more Wi-Fi devices throughout the house. There are three wireless options: use a repeater (repeats the Wi-Fi signal to expand the coverage area), a repeater (broadcasts a different signal that creates a second Wi-Fi network), and a mesh (uses a series of networks Secondary Wi-Fi antennas that work together). See tinyurl.com/53d4axm7 for repeaters and extenders, and see tinyurl.com/mwkdjuh5 for mesh networks.

But these methods might be less attractive than they appear. Because your walls and floors are such a barrier to Wi-Fi, you may need to purchase many repeaters, extenders, or mesh antennas to distribute the signal evenly throughout your home.

Another solution is primarily non-wireless: the Powerline Adapter (see tinyurl.com/2rc28pyp). It moves the Wi-Fi signal from your router to an electrical outlet, through your home’s electrical wiring, and through a Wi-Fi device plugged into every room where you have a TV or computer. This approach is attractive because the Wi-Fi signal does not have to penetrate or bypass walls or floors. Its effectiveness will depend on the age of the electrical wiring in your home; very old wiring can slow your Internet speed.

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Q: My PC’s Microsoft Outlook 2016 calendar has one-off appointments and recurring appointments. I can search for one-off appointments by subject or by words in the body of the calendar item. But I can only search for recurring appointments by subject, not by item body. I don’t have this problem with the Outlook app on my iPhone. What’s wrong? —Tom Robison, St. Paul, Minn.
A: You run into one of the limitations of Outlook on PC, which is that you can only search for recurring calendar items by subject, not by words in the body (see tinyurl.com/mvsjm68b and tinyurl. com / 4mynsb98). The iPhone version of Outlook does not have this limitation because it is a new program written for the iOS operating system rather than Windows.

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