Ways to utilize your Wi-Fi

Make your devices communicate over Wi-Fi.
Make your devices communicate over Wi-Fi. Getty Images

There are many more uses for Wi-Fi than just providing wireless Internet access to your computers, laptops, and other gadgets. Since the devices you connect to the Wi-Fi are networked together via your wireless router, the devices can communicate between each other. Here I share a couple ways to make use of those interconnections.

However, first ensure your Wi-Fi is secured. You don’t want neighbors or hackers passing by to be able to connect or snoop on your Internet traffic or computers. If your Wi-Fi is secured, you’ll find you must enter a password the first time you connect a new wireless device.

But not all the security methods are equal. You should try to use at least WPA2-Personal (PSK) security with a long and complex password – which doesn’t mean your dog’s name, phone number, or other guessable words or phrase . You can check which security method you’re using by connecting to the wireless router’s admin interface or by checking the wireless connection settings in Windows on a computer that has been connected to the Wi-Fi already.

After you’ve ensured your Wi-Fi is secured, here are a couple things to try:

▪ Share printers among multiple computers: Most printers sold in the past several years have built-in Wi-Fi, allowing you to easily share the printer among all your computers and devices on the network. However, keep in mind those that lack Wi-Fi can still be shared on the network. One way is to plug the printer into a computer and enable sharing in Windows for that particular printer.

The only catch: That particular computer must be powered on to the printer from other computers and devices.

▪ Share your files on the network: If you have multiple computers you might find yourself wanting to access or edit the same files among all of them. Instead of storing duplicate files or transferring them using a flash drive, consider storing the files on your main computer and sharing them to the network. That way you can directly access the files from your other computers.

Again, there’s a catch: the computer storing the files must be powered on in order to access them from other computers. If that’s not preferable, consider buying an external hard drive that can directly connect to your network, which can share files among all computers without having to be connected to any computer.

▪ Stream content to your TV: If you have a smart TV or other smart device (like a Blu-ray player or gaming console), you can connect to the network via Wi-Fi or a cable directly to your router. This may allow you to access the popular streaming services (like Netflix and Hulu) and possibily access any content you have on your computers, such as family photos, videos, and music.

▪ Buy other Wi-Fi devices: There are thousands of electronics and gadgets out there that can make use of your Wi-Fi. For example, digital photo frames can sync photos and videos via Wi-Fi from your computers or the Internet. Wireless security cams can be set up without running video cables. There are many other home automation products as well, such as smart thermostats, window and door sensors, remote control light and electrical switches, and video cam doorbells.

Remember, Wi-Fi signals don’t travel very far and are susceptible to interference from other neighboring wireless routers and devices. However, there are range extenders that can help expand the coverage. Settings can be tweaked to help reduce interference too, but the best way to minimize interference is to utilize the 5GHz frequency band with dual-band Wi-Fi routers and devices.