Q: A Wi-Fi network called “Avocato” keeps popping up on my computer, sometimes even kicks out my own Wi-Fi. Is it malicious? What can I do to keep it off?

— Jeane

A: When you click on the Wi-Fi icon in the System tray, Windows will show you the WiFi router that you are currently connected to as well as any routers within range that are broadcasting their “station identifier.” If you mean that the Avocato router pops up in this list, it means only that it is within range and is broadcasting its name. It doesn’t mean that your computer is connected to it.

If you nevertheless want to prevent Avocato from appearing in the list, here’s how. Open the Start menu and scroll down the list of applications to Windows/Windows System/Command Prompt. Right-click on Command Prompt and select “Run as administrator.” Enter the following at the Command Prompt:

netsh wlan add filter permission=block ssid=”Avocato” networktype=infrastructure. That should do the trick.

Related Tech Q&As

Read more from Patrick Marshall here >>

Q: In the July 25 column, you addressed the problem and solutions for low Wi-Fi throughput from a router located at the far end of the house. You discussed using adapters to send data over the house power wiring, wireless mesh systems, and the option of placing CAT5e cable from the router to the computer to resolve this problem.

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I’d like to suggest a solution that resolved the problem for me.  

I have a 300 Mbps service from Wave. My router is about 50 feet away from my PC, in the garage, through three walls. My PC doesn’t have an internal WiFi card, I used a typical thumbnail-sized WiFi adapter plugged into a USB port in the back of the computer. That worked, but poorly.  

I installed a NetGear A7000 USB WiFi adapter for about $70 last winter. It works very well. My download throughput immediately went from about 10 Mbps to averaging about 200 Mbps. I highly recommend considering this solution.

— Rod Roduin, Port Townsend

A: Yes, in that recent column I should have added something about improving Wi-Fi on the client side rather than just talking about routers and Wi-Fi meshes.

I suspect that the old USB Wi-Fi adapter you had was compatible with an older WiFi standard than your WiFi router supports. To get the best WiFi performance, both the router and the client need to have the latest standards.  If, for example, you’ve got a great new 802.11ac Wi-Fi router but your client is running 802.11n, which is a little over 10 years old, your performance will be limited to that of 802.11n, which has a maximum speed of 600Mbps.  802.11ac maxes out at 3.46Gbps – more than five times as fast as 802.11n. The later standards also offer better range than the earlier standards.

So yes, upgrading the Wi-Fi client can also significantly improve performance. The key thing is to match the standard supported by your router with the standard supported by your client. 

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Q: I built a computer this week with a Ryzen 5 3400G CPU with a MSI Performance Gaming X470 Gaming Plus motherboard and 16 GB RAM. I have two SSD drives.  The install went fine until I downloaded my subscription to Microsoft Office 365. Word, Publisher, PowerPoint, and Outlook are very fast, but Excel is very slow to open and then stops responding.

I have done a local repair and an online repair, but no change. I can’t find any help at Microsoft online.  Do you have any suggestions?

— Jerry Flagel, Renton

A: According to Microsoft, the six most likely causes of your problem are:

  • You haven’t installed the latest updates.
  • Excel may be in use by another process.
  • A previously installed add-in may be interfering with Excel.
  • You may need to repair your Office 2010 programs.
  • Antivirus software may be outdated, or conflicting with Excel.
  • Another program may be conflicting with Excel.

You’ll find detailed troubleshooting instructions from Microsoft here.