The Geek Squad: Getting the most out of your wireless network

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You've got tech questions -- and we've found the answers.

We've asked the experts at the Geek Squad to help you make the most of your technology, answering your thorniest tech questions. So if you're wondering what to buy, how to plug it in, or how to fix it, the Geek Squad can help.

This week, Geek Squad Double Agent Bryant Vasquez answers YOUR questions.

"What gear do I need to get the best wireless performance? I use a couple of PCs, four Apple devices, and video on my three TVs. Also, if I  run cable to one of my PCs to create a network, will that affect my modem speed? Thanks! -- Rex Morris

To get the best performance, especially when dealing with multiple wireless devices, you’ll want to go with a higher-end router that supports simultaneous dual-band connections. Many of the top router by Linksys, Netgear and Apple support these types of connections. This will allow devices with a variety of different networking technologies to connect and transfer data faster.

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You will also want a router that supports Gigabit Ethernet for any devices that are plugged in. Gigabit is much faster than a wireless connection and is especially useful when streaming media across the network to a TV or other wireless device.

This brings up the age-old question: wired or wireless? Wireless connections were designed for convenience -- nothing beats surfing the web from the couch. However, up until recently wireless was not considered the best for the heavy-duty lifting that streaming requires.

For  regular browsing on the computer and the occasional video stream, wireless is the perfect candidate. It'll power your PCs and Apple devices without a problem. When it comes to streaming video to the TV, if possible, we would recommend a cable connection. Since Ethernet connections can run at up to Gigabit speeds (1,000 Megabits) it makes them better suited to handle streaming.

If a cable connection is not feasible, wireless is definitely do-able, but you’ll want to make sure to outfit your gear with good equipment. Look for a third-party wireless bridge that supports a simultaneous dual-band connection. Popular devices are made by Linksys and Netgear. These devices allow for a much stronger and much more solid connection than the wireless chips that are built into most bluray players and connected-TVs.

Depending on your coverage needs, many higher-end routers such as the Apple Airport Extreme can actually link multiple units together to create a robust network that is both strong on reliability and speed.

Wireless can definitely be a tricky subject, especially when you have a lot of devices and a lot of data zipping about. As long as you have the right equipment, it can make for an extremely solid setup that will keep all of your devices connected!

"I have a hard drive that quit working. How can I get the information off the drive and onto a CD?" -- Tom S. Meadows

Dealing with a failed hard drive and the possibility of data loss is definitely a tough subject. In a perfect world, we would all have had a chance to back up our information; unfortunately that rarely happens.

Once it has failed, a hard drive has to be treated with extreme care to prevent any further damage that may cause partial or total data loss. Your best bet to get your information back would most likely be data recovery.

There are many companies that do this. If you take your computer or hard drive into your local Geek Squad Precinct, they can send it to the Data Recon Division at Geek Squad City (yes, that really exists) to have our seasoned Agents attempt to recover your information. Something like this would be your best chance to get back all of your information.

There are plenty of “tips” and “tricks” out there on the Internet that claim to be able to get your information back. The most infamous of which must be putting the drive in the freezer. I will warn you though, the more you use a drive after it has failed, the lower your chances are of a complete recovery.

Some tricks, like putting it in the freezer, can even cause immediate and permanent damage resulting in a total loss of the information on the drive. When it comes to your data, play it safe and let the pros handle it, us or otherwise. Your data will thank you!

"How do I defrag my computer?" -- Sal Johnson

Defragmenting your computer is something we definitely recommend doing to help keep your machine in tip-top shape. Depending on what operating system your machine is running, you will access the defragmentation tools a bit differently.

On Windows XP:

1. Open My Computer.
2. Right-click the local disk volume that you want to defragment, and then click Properties.
3. On the Tools tab, click Defragment Now.
4. Click Defragment.

On Windows Vista:

1. Start by clicking the Start button, clicking All Programs, clicking Accessories, clicking System Tools, and then clicking Disk Defragmenter. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
2. Click Defragment Now.

On Windows 7:

1. Start by clicking the Start button. Then, in the text field that appears in at the bottom, type in, “disk defragmenter.”
2. In the results list that shows, under the heading of “Programs” click the item that says, Disk Defragmenter.
3. Click the name of the disk that you would like to defragment. Then click Defragment Disk.

Just remember that it might take from several minutes to a few hours to finish, depending on the size and degree of fragmentation of your hard disk. You can still use your computer during the defragmentation process. When all is said and done, you’ll have gotten done some good spring-cleaning on your PC!

Got a question? E-mail us at and we'll relay it to the Geek Squad. Next week, the Squad will answer the most interesting or most frequently asked questions.