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Do you power down your home network when you're not using it? Should you? Here's why and how.

Do you power down your home network when you're not using it? Should you? Here's why and how.
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Update: If you have an always-on home security system, such as SimpliSafe's 24-hour monitoring that runs on your Wi-Fi, don't power down your home or office network. Protect your home router to make sure it's hack-resistant.  

We all get a little better about turning off lights and electronics when we leave the house once we start paying our own power bills. But what about electronic systems that have to be powered constantly, like your home internet network? Should you keep that on when you’re out of the house?

Ultimately, we here at Komando.com feel the same way about your home network as we do about leaving your computer on all the time; it should be off when you’re not using it. The key term here is “when you’re not using it,” but we’ll get into that, and other factors about this, below.

We will explain why it’s good for your home network to be shut down when you’re out and about, and how things like remote desktop access and home security systems can be affected by this decision. We will also explain how to power down your home network in a safe way, so you can have your internet access back once you’re home without any problems. Read on for all of this, and more!

Why power down your home network?

In addition to saving some money on your power bill (not an insignificant drive for many of us), unplugging your home internet network when it’s not in use can protect your device from power surges. Power surges are more likely to occur in devices that are plugged in all the time, so unplugging your modem and/or router can keep them from being damaged by random increases in electricity flowing through their wires.

Buying surge protectors can help with this, but if you get cheaper ones, it might not be helpful with really big spikes, like a lightning storm striking your house, or a major power line issue. Unplugging your devices altogether will keep them nice and safe.

Speaking of safety, powering down your home network is also a great way to secure your network. Hackers can’t find your Wi-Fi if it isn’t on, so they can’t access any of your data or devices on the network either. So powering down when you’re not home, and not able to intervene or act quickly if a hacker accesses your computer or hard drive, can keep you and your network much, much safer.

If you have a system on your desktop that allows remote access to your computer, this will not work if you turn your modem and router off while you aren’t at home. Remote smart home functions will also have difficulty activating and communicating without an available Wi-Fi network.

For these systems to work, it’s better to keep your home internet network plugged in and on even while you're out and about. Home security systems don’t have the same problem though -- years ago, you would have needed your alarm hooked into a phone or internet line for it to work, but now, companies like SimpliSafe don’t need Wi-Fi at all to protect your home.

The alarms and cameras come with their own system and connections, so you don’t even need a computer. Just make sure you keep power going to these systems as you turn off your internet to keep your home guarded!

How to power down your home network safely and efficiently

The simplest way to turn your Wi-Fi network off is to unplug it. For most modems and routers, unless they have special instructions for shutting down, this will get the job done without damaging anything, as powering down your internet devices and then powering them up again is often recommended to get them working if they’re having connectivity issues.

By unplugging, you’ll be able to leave your house comfortably, knowing you’re saving power and keeping your network safe from intruders.

You can keep yourself from having to literally unplug by putting the router and modem on a power strip or surge protector that has a power switch. Just flip the switch before you leave the house, and you’re all set.

To keep from even having to do that much, you can also plug your modem and router into an outlet timer. Just set the outlet timer to turn off when you’ll be out of the house, and even for late at night if you get a timer that can be set for multiple times of the day.

The timer will reactivate devices at the times you set, so you can have Wi-Fi available to you when you need it, and be sure you don’t have Wi-Fi when you don’t, without any intervention on your part.

Your router can also be put on an internal timer without having to unplug anything physically. This won’t necessarily save on your power bill, as some current may still run through the router to ensure it keeps track of time and can reactivate accordingly.

But if you’re more worried about home network security, or if you want to make sure your kids can’t access the internet beyond a certain hour, just open the software to your router in your web browser, and navigate to the scheduler. Within the scheduler, set times where the internet can be down in your home, and you can even password protect these times.

Once that’s done, your router will deactivate itself during the times you set, and your home network, for all intents and purposes, will be powered off for that period.

Beyond this, it’s important to note that any devices plugged into the internet via Ethernet cord will stay online unless they are turned off, or unless the modem the cords are attached to is turned off. Make sure your modem is shut off via the above unplugging options, or just make sure the Ethernet-connected devices are shut down before you leave the house.

Turning off your home network might mean going through some steps to reconnect devices once it’s back on. But since turning it off and on is so easy, and turning it off for parts of your day keeps the power bill down, and the security of your system up, it’s worth the mild inconvenience.

Make sure you power down your home network when you’re not home, or when you’re asleep, via any of the methods we’ve suggested above. Your home network, and your home benefits in the long run.

Free software to detect and prevent network intrusions

As some of the recent data breaches at big companies can tell you, hacks, phishing, viruses, and malware can be absolutely devastating to a computer system. Sensitive information can fall into the wrong hands because of them, so it's important to have Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) software installed on your computer to stop these problems before they start.

But what free ones will get the job done well?

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