How to prioritize Wi-Fi to the devices that need it most

Most modern homes have a few Wi-Fi connected gadgets that attempt to access the web at the same time. This usually puts stress on broadband connections, especially when it comes to demanding activities such as online gaming or video streaming.

To help you manage the load, some routers (like those made by Google, Netgear, Eero, and many others) offer a feature called Quality of Service (QoS). Put simply, it allows you to prioritize certain devices and types of traffic, so that they are the first to get a high-speed connection whenever bandwidth becomes limited.

Your router manufacturer may give it a different name, but a quick manual search or an online search should tell you whether or not your particular device offers QoS. If so, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with the feature and what it can do, as this type of Wi-Fi prioritization can help you reduce buffering times and avoid interruptions. connection when it matters most.

What is the quality of service?

The term QoS has been around for decades and applies to all kinds of networks in addition to home Wi-Fi. In this case, that means marking certain devices or types of activities in your home as more important than others. Every time your router slices your Wi-Fi into individual slices, those tagged gadgets and apps get the first dibs.

Pie slices are one way of thinking about QoS. Without it, everything connected to your router gets a similarly sized slice: your PlayStation 5, the laptop the kids are using, the smart TV in the living room, and more. When you enable QoS, you can give this important Zoom call larger slices with work. This comes at the expense of other less important tasks, like downloading Windows updates in the background.

[Related: 6 router settings you should change right now]

This does not necessarily guarantee that the devices you have chosen will always enjoy a healthy and robust internet connection. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that the less important hardware in your network will slow down at an accelerated rate. Much of it depends on the speed of the internet entering your home.

Video chats, online games, and video streaming tend to be the first in the queue when you enable QoS. Other online tasks, from checking emails to downloading updates, usually get lower priority.

Ultimately, how you use QoS is up to you, but what kind of control you get and how much will depend on your router. Some routers allow you to prioritize certain devices, such as a game console, while others allow you to prioritize types of Internet traffic, such as video calls. Some routers allow you to do both. If you are looking for a router upgrade, this is definitely a specification you should pay attention to.

Establishment of quality of service

Each router handles QoS differently, but here are a few examples so you can see how it works.

More advanced routers let you specify particular devices, apps, and tasks to get VIP treatment, while simpler routers automatically prioritize streaming audio and video to any device.

If you have a Google Nest Wi-Fi mesh network at home, for example, you can open the Google Home app on your phone, tap Wireless, then choose Set priority device below Devices. Keep in mind that you can only prioritize one device for a limited period of time.

Of the same Wireless in the Google Home app, tap Settings then Favourite activities to choose the types of uses you want the network to prioritize. Your choices include Video conference and Games, and the router will continue to prioritize your choices until you turn them off again.

[Related: Better internet could be a simple router upgrade away]

If you have a Netgear router, you will need to open a web browser, go to www.routerlogin.com, and log in using your router’s administrator credentials (see the documentation that came with the router if you are are not sure). Head toward Advanced, To install, and QoS configuration to start making some changes.

Take Configure the QoS rule then Add a priority rule. You can choose Online games to make sure your game stays as lag-free as possible, choose Applications to specify a particular web application, Ethernet LAN port to give priority to a device connected to a router port, or Mac Address to prioritize a device connected to the network via Wi-Fi.


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