You should never turn your router off… except when you should.
I know, I know, I sound like one of “those” tech experts, who gives you unhelpful advice that doesn’t really tell you anything.
But don’t worry, unlike them, I’m going to explain what I mean!
When I was little, I was brought up to turn electric things off, properly off, when I finished with them.
I don’t suppose the TV used much power on standby, but we turned it off at the wall when we weren’t watching it. It will have saved a little bit of electricity and I suppose given what some 70s wiring was like, it probably made it safer.
But with your internet router – the box that plugs into the wall and gives you wi-fi in your home – it’s not a good idea.
It’s not that you have to wait for it to start up every time you want to use the internet. It’s that your broadband company checks how good your connection is every so often.
And if it’s a bit shaky, they reduce the speed it’s trying to use, so that it can cope better. In practice that actually makes it work a little bit faster, rather than trying to work too fast and stumbling over itself.
That’s great, but if your router is turned off, then they’ll try to connect and think “Hmm, this connection is not working at all, I’ll try slower”. Then when that doesn’t work they’ll think “It STILL isn’t working, I’ll try slower still.”
And you’ll end up with it being set to work really slowly.
(By the way, when I say “they”, it won’t actually be people checking – it’s all done automatically by computer.)
Even if they’ve improved their system so it twigs “Hang on a minute, there’s no connection at all, the router’s probably turned off.” it still won’t be able to set the connection speed the way it should be, so it won’t run as well.
And nowadays some devices (including some routers) download updates in the middle of the night, when you’re not using them. If the router is turned off, they’ll have to do it when you’re using the internet, slowing it down.
That’s why you shouldn’t turn your router off… except…
Why you should turn your router off
So I’ve said you shouldn’t turn your router off and leave it off when you’re not using it. And I stick by that. But there are times when you might want to turn it off and back on again.
It’s almost a cliche of fixing technical problems: turn it off and turn it on again. But that’s because it often works.
And it can work for routers too.
So if you’re ever having trouble connecting to the internet or it’s going very slowly and you don’t know why, you could try turning it off, giving it five minutes and turning it on again. I’d suggest turning off your PC, tablet or whatever at the same time, so they all start from fresh at the same time.
It’s not a miracle cure, but it can often help if things aren’t working properly when you’re on the internet.
One more thing: if you want to turn your router off while you’re away on holiday, that’s OK. Just be prepared that the connection might be a little erratic for a day or two when you get back while it’s calibrated as above.
Grandad was right (almost)
I never met my Grandad on my Dad’s side – he died before I was born. But I’ve heard a good few stories about him (remind me to tell you about the Motor Torpedo Boat idea some time… as long as you don’t work for HM Coast Guards that is…)
Apparently one thing he said was that one day you wouldn’t just buy a TV set and put it in your lounge. You’d buy a thin screen, cut it to size with scissors and hang it on your wall. After all, why would you want to have it in the size it was made in if that doesn’t fit your room best?
Well, you can’t cut it with scissors, but Samsung have just announced a new type of TV for use in homes. It’s called “The Wall” and it’s a thin screen (it’s about 3 cm thick at the deepest bit) that you hang on a wall. It comes in sizes up to 146 inches – that’s over 12 foot wide!
You can’t cut it with scissors but when you order it you tell them what size you want it to be and that’s the size you make it – so you get a size that fits perfectly in the space you want it to be. Just like Grandad thought.
Samsung haven’t announced when they’ll be available yet… or the price. They just say “the price will not be as high as people think.” Hmm… we’ll see.