Monday, January 12, 2015

Public Wifi vs. Personal Hotspot

Some notes about public wifi. We have relied on public wifi quite a bit. From libraries, to McDonald’s, Denny’s to the hockey rink, public wifi is great for checking email, playing games like Words With Friends, or keeping up with social media. But for things like banking, updating the blogs and websites, or other activities that are better done on a secure line, your own password protected hotspot is a wiser choice. Like your home service, you can leave your hotspot open, but other people are guaranteed to piggy back off of it and slow everything down, if not hack right into your accounts. As soon as I set up the Straight Talk account I gave it a strong password. I have had to reset the account a couple of times in the past year, such as when the first hotspot died and the company sent a replacement. 

Learning how to get the most out of the hotspot is a real challenge. It is great for checking email, social networking, banking, etc. Games and streaming videos run slow, usually. Uploading pictures and videos can go fairly quickly or very slowly. We have learned to keep an eye on how much data we’re using. Especially since photos and videos use up a lot of data in uploading. When we get down to our last 500mb, everything tends to slow down. When we add a new data card, everything goes more smoothly. We have also learned, that even keeping data cards in reserve has its quirks. Straight Talk will automatically add a reserve card on the service end date, but not when we use up all our data. Then we have to call or go online and add one of our reserve cards or buy a new one and add it. If we use all our data before we add the card, then we have to call to add the reserve, since we can’t get online to go to our account and add it.

In spite of all the frustrations involved in the learning curve, I am happy with our current internet setup. Yes, we are still working out the bugs. We had so much trouble with our former rural internet providers that I wish I had known the mobile hotspot would work nearly as well at the house. I would have cut them loose years ago. It is still odd to walk into the house and not check the answer machine right away. But since I can take my cell phone and internet service with me wherever I go, without the added $100 monthly expense, I think I’ll stick with Straight Talk for now.

For lots more detailed info on mobile internet, visit the Technomads, they wrote the book on Mobile Internet.

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