A WiFi extender can be a great tool for improving the signal coverage in your home, but there are some things it can’t do for you.  A reader asks:  “If I buy a WiFi extender, will it would cut down on data usage when we stream Netflix on our TV?”

What a WiFi extender extends is the range of the signal your router emits.  The extender picks up the signal and rebroadcasts it, giving it a greater reach inside your home.  It can help a signal reach upstairs or down to a basement. That makes it easier for your PC, tablet, or smartphone to pick up the signal.

What it can’t do is change the amount of data needed to stream a movie. That’s a fixed amount based on the size of the file you’re streaming. What you can do is adjust the size of the file by reducing the quality.  The default setting for Netflix is Auto, which adjusts the quality of your file based on your data connection. But you can change that.

First, log on to Netflix and choose Your Account.

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Scroll down to My Profile and choose Playback settings.

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The High setting gives you the best video quality. It uses between 3GB per hour for HD streaming all the way up to 7 GB for Ultra HD.  Switch to Medium and you’ll a lot less data for standard definition streaming, only .7 GB per hour. Change to Low and you’ll only use .3 GB per hour. I’ll warn you, you will see a significant decline in both audio and video quality. Don’t forget to hit Save after making the changes.

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It can take up to 8 hours for these changes to take effect. If you find that you don’t like the lower quality of video and audio, just go back in and switch it back.

~ Cynthia