Home 7 Considerations to Make Before Connecting Your Devices

7 Considerations to Make Before Connecting Your Devices

Do you like the idea of connecting all of your smart devices to your home network? With so many different devices that can become part of your connected world, it’s worth considering.

For example, it sounds nice to use an app while grocery shopping to see what’s inside your refrigerator so you don’t forget to buy anything.

Although it brings convenience, there’s also a downside. For instance, anything you connect to the internet can potentially be hacked and might violate your privacy without your knowledge.

Consider These Points Before Connecting Your Devices

Before you set up a network of smart devices in your home or office, consider the following points.

1. Is your network stable?

The first concern you need to think about before connecting many devices is the stability of your network. If your network goes down frequently or is slow, don’t connect any devices that you need to rely on without fail.

For example, it might be nice to connect a smart thermostat to your home network so you can control the temperature in your house while you’re on vacation, but if your network goes down you’ll lose control of your thermostat. You might end up stuck with the heater or air conditioner running and you won’t be able to turn it off if nobody can reboot your router.

For other devices, like smartphones and tablets, being disconnected isn’t really a big deal. Just be cautious about connecting devices that will cause problems if your network goes down.

2. There will be troubleshooting.

Anytime you’re trying to connect multiple devices to each other and the internet, you can expect to go through quite a bit of troubleshooting. For instance, the setup process will be different if you have a Macbook compared to a Windows laptop and any type of smartphone.

You’ll need to know your way around your network settings for all the devices you want to connect. If you didn’t save the user manual, you can probably find a video tutorial online. There’s a high chance you’ll need to do a bit of troubleshooting to make everything work properly. That’s not a bad thing, but just be prepared because it can be frustrating.

3. Privacy

There are quite a few news stories about online privacy and smart devices. For instance, one consumer exposed a well-known smart TV manufacturer for recording conversations and potentially recording video without permission.

Smart speakers and smart assistants have also been exposed for recording private conversations. After several major leaks exposing this privacy concern, some smart assistant manufacturers have admitted to recording conversations. They say the audio is only used to train their algorithms to recognize commands. Others claim customers agreed to be recorded by purchasing the device. However, that only applies to instances where the command is given to activate the assistant.

Google is among the companies that admitted to recording customers without consent or awareness. Several years ago, around 1,000 private Dutch conversations were leaked by Google’s partners to a Belgian news company. The leak included private conversations that occurred without the users activating the device by saying, “OK Google.”

According to Google, audio recordings are made and stored when customers converse with their smart assistant devices. Until the leak, they didn’t disclose that employees and third-party partners have access to those recordings. Google only admitted to the fact that employees can listen in at any time after the leaked conversations were exposed.

Since you don’t know if you’re being recorded against your wishes, it’s best to disconnect your devices when not in use. If they’re not connected to the internet, they’re not transmitting data back to the manufacturer’s server.

If privacy is a priority for you, don’t get a smart assistant and turn the comparable feature off on your phone.

4. Cybersecurity Issues

As stated earlier, any devices you connect to a network are potentially at risk of being hacked. While your home network might be secured with a password, if your devices communicate with the internet, they are vulnerable.

All it takes is a cheap laser pointer to hijack smart assistant devices from up to 360 feet away. This was exposed back in 2019. Hackers used a $14 laser pointer to start people’s cars, purchase items online, and open garage doors. Simply shining the light into a microphone can make a device think it’s receiving sound. It can be activated to take further commands given as light.

Between the security risk and the potential for recording your private conversations, you may want to think twice before getting a smart assistant for your home. However, your security cameras and smart locks may also get hacked.

5. Smart technology can go down.

 The main problem with smart technology is that while it’s extremely convenient and useful, it’s also risky and malfunctions can create massive problems. For example, if your smart lock stops working because the battery dies or your network goes offline, you’ll need the manual backup key that came with your system to open the door. If you don’t keep this key on your person or somewhere outside of your house, you’ll be out of luck and you might have a problem finding a locksmith to get into your house.

Anytime you rely on a piece of technology for something in your daily life that has no alternative, you’re going to be extremely inconvenienced if that technology goes down. To avoid massive disruptions to your life, it’s better not to rely on smart technology too much.

6. Do you really need all of your devices connected?

There’s definitely a big convenience factor involved in connecting all of your devices, like laptops, tablets, and smartphones. It’s nice to have several devices on your network at once so you can browse those devices from any other device. For example, you might be on your iPad and need a file from your laptop, and instead of getting it directly from your laptop, you can use an app to access your laptop remotely.

Making your daily life more convenient is beneficial, especially when it helps you save time and reduces your stress levels. The only question is whether or not you really need to have everything connected.

Since it takes quite a bit of effort initially to set up a smart home network and connect a handful of devices, there’s no reason to go through all that trouble if you’re not actually going to make use of those connections.

7. Your devices will compete for bandwidth.

Your internet connection only has a finite amount of bandwidth to offer, and the more devices you connect, the more bandwidth you use. When you have a bunch of connected devices, they will be competing for bandwidth against each other. This isn’t a big deal for devices like smart televisions, lighting systems, and coffee makers. It’s more of a concern with devices that are used to actively consume content, like streaming videos and downloading files. More specifically, the more smartphones, tablets, and computers you connect to the same network, the slower each one will perform.

If you’re not using all of your devices at once, you don’t need to worry about not having enough bandwidth. However, if those devices are being simultaneously used, you could see a drop in performance on your devices.

Connect for convenience, but be intentional

There’s no denying the benefits of connecting all of your devices, but it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before going all in. While it might make sense to keep some of your devices connected all the time, make sure you disconnect the devices you need to keep secure.

Don’t go through all the trouble to set up a connected home if you don’t need to use some of the devices you want to connect. Not everything has to be part of your home network just because it has the capability of connecting.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Brad Anderson
Former editor

Brad is the former editor who oversaw contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase.

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