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How to Prioritize WiFi to the Devices That Need It Most

  • By: WiFi Tech
  • Date: September 3, 2022
  • Time to read: 7 min.

If your household is like most, then you probably have quite a few gadgets and devices trying to access the internet all day long and at the same time. This can result in a lack of internet access when it really counts. 

A lack of bandwidth can also sabotage the function of critical websites that become a 404 just as someone is about to call or make a purchase online.

A common problematic scenario is a work-at-home employee who is unable to access a Zoom call because a gamer in the basement is hogging the WiFi bandwidth. There is no point in having a speedy service if other devices and apps are draining or slowing your WiFi down when you are around.

Yet another example would be the inability to watch a movie on Netflix because a musician in the house is uploading videos to a social media site. Note that having priority QoS can also be about your personal enjoyment of the high-speed internet service that you pay for and not just about doing good business.

Internet congestion can be a real threat to your work productivity, and it can be a disaster if you need it to make an emergency call. If you feel like your WiFi needs are the last priority when accessing the internet, try adjusting your QoS so that you come first. 

This prevents your critical devices from being adversely interrupted by less important devices.

Get to Know Your QoS (Quality of Service)

Most routers on the market today have a feature called QoS (Quality of service) that assists with WiFi load management. This feature allows you to prioritize which devices and types of traffic get a high-speed connection first. When the system is overloaded with users, someone else’s call will be dropped before yours. It also means that your buffering time for a live stream will be the shortest in a queue.

Routers that use the term QoS include those managed by Asus, Eeros, Google, Netgear, Trendnet, and Wavlink, just to name a few. However, the manufacturer of your router may give QoS a different name, so it is a good idea to refer to your manufacturer’s manual to see what your device offers in terms of WiFi management.

It’s About Dividing WiFi Unequally Among Users

Quality of Service is not so much about the quality of the actual signal but a guarantee of a certain level of performance when it comes to data flow service to different users or applications. 

In essence, it is an option that you can control, regardless of the quality of the call or image that you are looking at on your computer screen. 

Some routers let you prioritize tasks and data downloads. For instance, you may be able to make updating email more important than downloading Windows updates.

Above all, it is more about making sure you are wasting the least time possible when uploading or downloading, or making a computer call.

High-Speed Internet Provides Better QoS

There is a bit of a hitch with setting QOS. You can prioritize your devices all you want, but that will not give you faster or slower upload speeds. In other words, it is possible to prioritize slow internet service. 

For the ultimate QoS, it is best to have a high internet speed service, along with the latest router, which will definitely have an app to guide you through your QoS preferences. However, if you can’t afford the latest and greatest router, you can adjust the QoS that may be on your current router.

How to Set Up QoS

How to Set Up QoS

Every device is different, so it is best to refer to your user manual when setting up a QoS.  Advanced routers let you specify which of your different devices, task, and apps get priority, while others automatically do this for you or provide you with a list of checks to approve.

It seems complicated but setting it up is often quite easy. Here are some rough examples of how QoS could be set up on different devices.

For instance, if you have a Google-Nest WiFi setup, you can control prioritization through your Google Home app on your phone. In this case, you tap Settings and then Preferred Activities to train the router to prioritize your selections.

Some routers, like Netgear, require you to open a browser and head to their website. You then must log in using your credentials and go to QoS setup to change your priority rules. In this case, you are given a list that asks you to Add a Priority Rule. Categories such as Online Gaming applications, Ethernet LAN port (to prioritize a device connected to the router port), or MAC address (to prioritize a device hooked up to the network via WiFi) are possibly on this list.

How Does It Technically Work

You do not need to be tech-savvy to set up today’s QoS because most router companies have apps that have made it as simple as checking a few preference boxes on an app or a site. However, here is an idea of how QoS works technically.

Finding the Mac Address

Before you can log into your router to change the QoS priority settings, you need to find the MAC address of every device that is connected to your router; the MAC address is unique to each network card and is used to send packets to the card via the ethernet. 

Once it is sent, the device resolves the MAC address in its cache, where it works with your IP address to enable information routing.

On most devices, you can find this address by going to your Network settings in order to see all of the connected devices. On Windows 7 devices, that means going to your Control Panel first and selecting Status. If you are on Windows 10, it means clicking Network Settings and the Properties; then the physical MAC address should pop up.

On iPhones and iPads, the MAC address can be found by simply going to Settings, tapping WiFi, and then tapping Advanced. The MAC address is usually displayed at the bottom of the screen.

On MAC OS, you can find the MAC address by selecting the Apple Menu and then choosing System Preferences. Then choose Open Network and Advanced. The MAC address is displayed on the Hardware Tab.

On game consoles such as the PS4/PS5/ or any of the Xboxes, go to Settings, then Network. Select View Connection and then the Status/Connection setting to find your MAC number.

Log into Your Router

Logging into your router sounds complicated, but it’s not. Simply look at the bottom of the device. Router login details and the username are usually on a sticker plastered on the base, right beside barcodes for the same.

Use the information you find at the bottom of the router to log in online. Once there, you should see a side menu marked QoS, or it may have its own tab under the Advanced tab. Different routers have their own unique interfaces, so you might have to search the menus to find the QoS tab.

Set Your QoS Priorities

How to Set Up QoS

Depending on what brand your router is or how it is configured, all of your devices may already be there. If this is the case, then you simply have to order them from Highest to Lowest Priority.

On other routers, you may need to manually type in the MAC addresses of every single device in list form. You do this by filling out the router platform’s request to Add a Device.

If you don’t see QoS as a tab or on a menu anywhere, then it can mean your internet simply does not have it as an option.

Suggestion for Standard Network Runs

A standard network run is what your device will generally choose to prioritize.  Gaming tends to come first as a QoS in many households because, without it, many games will stutter or not play at all. 

A common second QoS priority is video call and messenger apps such as Skype, Zoom, and Facebook chat.

Streaming videos should be a general to high priority, especially if you are streaming in HD.

General browsing usually takes a medium to high priority, which means there will be some delay in uploading. This is not great news if you are a researcher or heavy social media poster.  If you don’t play a lot of games, you might want to switch this up with gaming.

What if Your Router has No QoS?

If your router has no QoS, you cannot gain priority over other devices on your internet. This is when you should run an ethernet connection from your router to the device. It then becomes a dedicated connection that others cannot commandeer.

You can also fake a wired internet connection by plugging your device in through a powerline adaptor. This transmits data through existing building wiring and strengthens it.

Solution for Most Issues

There is a solution for most QoS issues. For instance, if slow speed is a problem, then get a higher-speed internet. This is a great idea because most routers that come with high-speed internet tend to have a QoS app that helps you effortlessly select prioritized devices.

Issues with an existing router can usually be solved by looking up how QoS works with your model and brand online or referring to an included brochure. Even if there is no QoS on your router, you can mimic it by using the ethernet instead of WiFi to create the dedicated internet connection you need.

 

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