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Catch and stop neighbors stealing your Internet

Catch and stop neighbors stealing your Internet
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

You're ready to stream the latest episode of your favorite show. The popcorn smell permeates the room, you're settled in your favorite spot and everything is perfect. When you fire up Netflix, frustration sets in. The video is fuzzy and keeps pausing.

Perhaps your Internet connection hit a temporary speed bump or is it something else? Could your neighbors be tapping into your Internet connection, sucking up valuable bandwidth and leaving you and your gadgets with just leftover crumbs of capacity? How do you know which it is? And if someone is stealing your Internet, what can you do about it?

Catch the Internet thief
Start by taking stock of your network. Log in to your router and check the section that shows what gadgets are connected to the network. Check your router's manual for instructions on logging in. If you can't find your manual, download a digital copy here.

If you want an easier solution, you can grab the aptly named Wireless Network Watcher. This free program gives you a list of gadgets connected to your Wi-Fi network.

Once you have the list of connected gadgets, identify the ones that belong to you. Your computer should show up in the list using its name, for example. Your tablet or smartphone should have the manufacturer or operating system name in there somewhere. You’ll also see streaming video gadgets and video game consoles.

If you can't make heads or tails of the list, simply turn off each gadget one by one (or just disable the gadget's Wi-Fi) to figure out what is what. Take a screen shot or write it down for future reference. When you find a gadget connected to your network that doesn't belong to you, there’s the culprit.

You might need to check back a few times if the Internet slowdown is random. The culprit might only be using your Internet infrequently.

Next page: Stop an Internet thief

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