Q: I have a question about setting up an access point in a house that has an Xfinity router/modem on one end, but most of the living area is on the other end of the house, or through many walls. The router/modem has a CAT5 wired connection into a plug-in adapter to send the data through the house electrical system. I want to have a plug-in adapter on the other end of the house, then connect that by CAT5 to a simple wireless-access point.

I read recently about your positive experience with the wireless mesh, but that’s a bit more than I’d like to spend when I just need one point of access. Are you aware of access points that are affordable and set up for this type of system right out of the box?

— Tom Stege

A: I really wish I had a good, out-of-the-box answer for you. That’s why I was so charged when I tried Netgear’s Orbi and found that it actually worked. I have tried so many network extenders — including plug-in adapters — and have found the results to be inconsistent at best.

Related Tech Q&As

Read more from Patrick Marshall here >>

The best option, though obviously the most expensive, is to install Ethernet cable throughout your house. You’d get much faster performance if you were able to cut out the Wi-Fi altogether. If you aren’t up for spending that kind of money — and I wouldn’t be there either unless, perhaps, I was building a new house — I’d opt for a highly rated wireless mesh. Yes, at $200 to $300 a good wireless mesh system is almost the price of a decent wireless router. But it works!

Q: I am trying to access streaming from Channel4.com, a British station. I imagine they don’t want me doing that. I went through NordVPN’s British VPN server. When I attempt to stream a program that has commercials (that I would allow) I get a message that I must turn off an ad blocker.

Advertising

I’m using Firefox, Norton and MalwareBytes on my Windows 10 laptop. I don’t have any ad blocker that I am aware of. I’ve given Channel4.com exceptions everywhere I can find, including Enhanced Tracking Protection. I have turned off the Windows 10 pop-up blocker and allowed cookies. Probably I should take the hint, but any ideas?

— Rick Hudson

A: Many streaming sites block traffic over virtual private networks (VPNs). So the one thing I suggest you try is manually selecting one of the more than a dozen “obfuscated” servers NordVPN is running in the United Kingdom. When you use an obfuscated server your traffic is not detected as being over a VPN.

Q: Recently I had my 2012 Acer Laptop hard drive replaced with a SSD and upgraded to Windows 10. The installation was performed locally. Part of the plan was to upgrade the RAM from 4 to 8 gigabytes but that was not successful. 

The computer is working fine — mostly. One problem is that it will unexpectedly and without warning shut down, then restart, just as if I hit the Restart option proactively. 

Once it reboots the websites/folders I was working on are still visible — nothing lost — so this is more of an annoyance than anything. It would be nice to remedy that issue however! Do you have an explanation/solution(s) for this?

— Barry Brower

A: First, I’m surprised you were able to upgrade your laptop hardware at all. With most laptops you can’t add RAM or different types of internal storage. You don’t mention the specific model of your Acer laptop so I wasn’t able to research its upgradeability, but I’d be leery of any direct tinkering with the motherboard. And I certainly wouldn’t be surprised at any glitches like you describe popping up after doing so.

The problem is almost certainly an issue of hardware incompatibility. My suggestion is my usual one: Make sure you back up all the data you care about to an external drive.