Things I learned while improving my home network

Published by Eduard Budacu on

Photo by Jonathan on Unsplash Network

We are CONNECTORS! And networking is a thing we DO!

Since we started DOvelopers I realised that learning is a great opportunity to interact with people who I share the same interests. So I started attending numerous meetups, making friends in companies I’ve worked with, interacting with students from the faculty, basically using every opportunity to socialize and increase our network.

This is how I actually came with our tagline:

Connect. Learn. Grow.

But in this summer vacation I figured out that I also have to do some networking to improve my home internet setup. It was driven by the need to gain more speed, better privacy and increased security. But also by the desire to learn in a practical way while documenting the process.

Here is the result I’ve got. Read further to find out how I did it and what are some benefits I’m already seeing.

Local network topology

Speed level up

I wanted to upgrade to a fiber optic connection. Internet in Bucharest is very fast and providers are fighting to get their share of the customers.

Digi was my internet provider for more than 6 years. I cannot remember having any connection problems. They provided good service, but I started to become dissatisfied. They kept delaying the upgrade of their infrastructure in our area to fiber optics. Since I already waited for one more year before my last renewal so I decided to quit.

Telekom was one of the choices since I’m using their mobile service. I jumped straight to the landing page which was familiar from working with the Digital Division in their agile transformation. I filled out the form and in a few minutes I got contacted by a call center agent.

The process went with some hiccups because initially the call center agent informed me that I need the landlord’s approval and all sorts of documents. I had more luck in a local partner shop where the agent was a bit more flexible. From this point everything went smooth so the next day I had the service set up.

Yuhuuuu! Fast internet I have! Next was the LAN setup.

Setting up the LAN

You probably noticed there are two routers in the drawing. The huawei hg8245h is the default that comes in with the fiber optics WAN port. The second one is an asus ac1200g+ I bought last year on Black Friday.

The reason I kept both is that the second is way better on wifi. So I had to reach Telekom call center to setup bridge mode for their device. No way to hack it by yourself. Trust me I’ve tried it.

Only two of the devices are connected via cable so I highlighted them on the drawing. The magic thing actually happens on the Raspberry PI so read further to find out more.

Better privacy & security

I became more aware about privacy and security as Facebook, Google and other internet giants were reported to abuse the large amount of data they collect, store and use to sell ads. Also we already use a bunch of online services to run the business, so I became curious about security best practices.

After reading several articles I figured out I could use my Raspberry Pi to do some good work. So I’ve installed PiVPN and PiHole. Since it’s not meant to be a technical tutorial, I’m not going to provide much details about the configuration.

PiVPN is a simple to use installer of OpenVPN that allows me to connect remotely to my local network. It also provides encryption by default. I’m using it on my phone when I’m on 4G or on an unsecure WiFi network.

openvpn network
Things I learned while improving my home network

PiHole acts as a proxy DNS service that filters domains that are considered to deliver ads. It also blocks domains that are used for tracking. Combined with the VPN the blocking is extended even when I’m on my mobile data.

Pihole Network
Things I learned while improving my home network

I love the magic of this two tools and I totally recommend to give them a try.

Closing

The process took several hours to complete and spanned across about one week. I’m very happy with the results and all the things I’ve learned while trying to solve all the issues I’ve encountered.

I’ll probably get back to this topic so if you have any suggestions please follow up.


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