How to put your PS4 in Safe Mode to troubleshoot issues, or get out of Safe Mode if you’re stuck

Playstation 4 PS4 controller
You may want to boot up your PS4 in Safe Mode if there’s a bug or glitch.

  • PS4 Safe Mode is a simple way to troubleshoot issues with your console.
  • When you put your PS4 in Safe Mode, it can also get stuck in a Safe Mode loop.
  • To get your PS4 out of Safe Mode, try restarting the console, replacing cords, rebuilding corrupted files, or updating system software.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

The PlayStation 4’s Safe Mode is a great option for troubleshooting problems you might have with your console.

Starting your PS4 in Safe Mode can help you resolve an issue or troubleshoot a bug the device may be having. The Safe Mode menu includes options to change your console’s resolution, rebuild its storage database, and restore the device to factory settings.

How to put PS4 in Safe Mode

1. Turn off your console by holding the power button for 3 seconds. After blinking a few times, your PS4 will power off.

2. Press and hold the power button, releasing your finger only after the second beep sound. This should take about 7 seconds.

3. Your PS4 will start in Safe Mode. Make sure your controller is connected to the console, and press the PS button.

How to get PS4 out of Safe Mode

If your PS4 is stuck on Safe Mode, you may be dealing with a Safe Mode loop that makes it difficult to resume playing.

In these cases, there are a few things you can try to get your PS4 out of Safe Mode. Most of these involve the Safe Mode menu, which appears when you first boot your console into Safe Mode.

Here are four troubleshooting methods you can use.

Method 1: Restart your PS4

restart
Restart will be the first option in the Safe Mode menu.

First, try restarting your PS4 using option 1 in the Safe Mode menu. Press “X” on your controller to select this option.

Method 2: Make sure there are no power issues

Why won't my PS4 turn on
Hold down the power button on your PlayStation until the light stops flashing.

If the first method fails, check to make sure all of the cables, including your USB and HDMI connections, are working properly. 

You can also try unplugging your PS4’s power cord and plugging it back in. Also, unplug the HDMI cord and switch which end is plugged into the TV and which end is plugged into the PS4.  

If one of the cables or connections is broken or failing, try replacing it.

If the cables and connections are working fine, try power cycling your PS4, as explained in our article on troubleshooting a PS4 that won’t turn on.

Method 3: Rebuild corrupted files

Image 2
Rebuilding your database can sometimes take several hours, depending on how much data you have saved on your PS4.

If the second method fails, the problem might be caused by a corrupted file. 

Select option 5 on the Safe Mode menu, “Rebuild Database,” and press “X.” This will build a new database for your PS4 without affecting any save data. It will take a while for your PS4 to rebuild — when it’s done, restart your PS4. 

Method 4: Update your PS4’s software

mehod5
There are two major ways to update your PS4’s settings through Safe Mode.

Try updating your PS4’s system software from the Safe Mode menu. 

Press “X” to select elect option 3 on the menu, “Update System Software.” Then, press “X” to select “Update Using Internet.” From there, follow the instructions on the screen.

If nothing else works, select option 7, “Initialize PS4 (Reinstall System Software),” and press “X.” Follow the instructions on the screen.

PlayStation 5 (small)

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How to format an SD card and erase all of its data

SD card being inserted into digital camera
There are multiple ways to format an SD card.

  • You can format an SD card using Windows, Mac, and Android devices, and likely your digital camera too.
  • Formatting an SD card will erase everything on it, including the junk or corrupted files you usually can’t see.
  • If your SD card won’t format correctly, make sure the write-protect switch isn’t turned on.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

If you’ve ever used an SD card before, you may have been prompted to “format” it before using it. But what does that mean?

Put simply, formatting an SD card erases every single file on it, including internal files that are usually hidden. This is the best way to reset or clear an SD card, and should be the first step you take when using a new card.

Here are four ways to format an SD card, depending on what sort of device you have available.

How to format an SD card on a Windows PC

If you use a Windows desktop or laptop computer, you’ll use the File Explorer to format your SD card.

Before you get started, back up all the data you want to keep. And if you’re on a laptop, make sure it’s plugged in or has enough battery to last a little while.

1. Insert your SD card into your computer’s SD card reader or an external USB reader.

How to format SD card   2
Not all computers will have an SD card reader.

2. Once you’ve inserted the SD card, open the File Explorer (in other words, open any folder). In the column on the left-hand side, click on either “This PC” or “My Computer” – these serve the same function, but appear under different names in different versions of Windows.

3. Click on the SD card in the device list. This will open it on your computer.

4. At the top of the File Explorer window, click the tab labeled “Manage,” then click “Format.” A pop-up window will appear.

How to format SD card   3
Once you’ve selected the SD card, click on the “Manage” tab, followed by “Format.”

5. In the pop-up window, click on the drop-down menu underneath “File System.” Here, you’ll see a few options – if you only plan to use this card on Windows computers, pick “NFTS.” If you’re going to use it on multiple kinds of devices, click “FAT32.”

How to format SD card   4
FAT32 is usually the best format to pick.

6. If you’re formatting the SD card for the very first time, make sure that the checkbox next to “Quick Format” remains unchecked. If you’ve formatted this particular SD card before, the Quick Format checkbox can remain checked.

7. When you’re ready to start formatting, click “Start.”

8. One or two more pop-up windows will appear. Click “OK” in each of these to proceed.

How to format SD card   5
Click “OK” to reassure Windows that you know exactly what you’re doing.

9. Once the process is done, you can eject the SD card and then remove it from your SD card reader.

How to format an SD card on a Mac

On a Mac, you’ll use the Finder to format your SD card. Make sure you’ve backed up and saved any data you want to keep from the card, and if you’re using a laptop, plugged it in.

1. If you haven’t already done so, insert the SD card into your Mac’s SD card slot or USB card reader and boot up the computer.

2. Open “Finder,” then click on the “Go” tab. In its sub-menu, click “Utilities.”

3. In the window that appears, double-click on “Disk Utility.” A new window will open.

How to format SD card   6
Open the Disk Utility app.

4. In the left-side column, click on the SD card. It should appear underneath the “External” header.

5. In the upper portion of the window, click the button labeled “Erase.”

How to clear an SD card 5
You can format an SD card from the Disk Utility app on your Mac.

6. Click “Format” to open a drop-down menu. If your SD card is 64 GB or larger, pick “ExFAT.” If it’s 32 GB or smaller, pick “MS-DOS (FAT).”

7. Click “Erase” to format the SD card.

How to format an SD card on an Android device

It might come as a surprise, but many Android phones and tablets can format SD cards too. In fact, a lot of Androids come with a microSD card included.

Once you’ve backed up the data you want to save and charged your Android, here’s how to format a card.

1. With the SD card inserted into your Android device, open “Settings.”

2. Tap on “Device care.”

3. Tap on “Storage,” then tap on “Advanced.”

4. Look for your SD card underneath the “Portable storage” header. Once you locate the SD card, tap on it.

5. Tap on “Format.” In the pop-up that appears, tap on “Format SD card.”

How to format an SD card using a DSLR camera

If you have a DSLR camera, there’s a good chance that you can format the SD card directly on the camera itself. Keep in mind that the specific steps will vary depending on the type of camera you have, but this guide covers the general process.

Again, make sure the camera is charged, and that you’ve backed up any files you want to save.

1. With the camera turned off, insert the SD card into its designated slot. Once the SD card is secure, turn the camera on.

2. Using either a button or an option on your camera’s screen, open the menu.

3. From the menu, access “Setup.” Look for an option that includes the word “format.” Once you’ve located it, select this option.

4. Select “OK” to begin the formatting process. Wait patiently while it does so, because it can take a few minutes.

5. Once the SD card finishes formatting, turn the camera off to complete the process.

What to do if your SD card won’t format

When you place your SD card into the reader, there’s a chance that the device won’t read it. If this happens, there’s a good chance that the write-protect switch is flipped on.

This switch makes it so nothing on the SD card can be changed. It’s good for protecting your data, but bad if you want to format.

To turn it off, simply take the SD card out of the reader and push the switch up towards the end that’s inserted into the computer or card reader.

SD Card write-protect
The write-protect tab is very small, but you can slide it to prevent files from being erased.

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How to get a Beats headphones repair through Apple support

beats solo pro blue l
If you think your Beats headphones might need a repair, you can use Apple support to coordinate one.

  • Apple will replace or repair Beats headphones that have incurred accidental damage, have battery issues, or have certain missing parts.
  • Service costs depend on what Beats product you have, your issue, and whether or not you have AppleCare Plus or another warranty.
  • To make a service request, you’ll first need to call or start an online chat with an Apple support representative.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

It’s a bummer if your Beats headphones break. However, depending on the issue you’re having and your coverage by warranties or AppleCare Plus, you can get your headphones repaired or replaced in just a week or two.

How to get a Beats headphones repair

Here’s what you can send in for a repair with Apple, how to make a service request, and how much it will cost.

What you can send in for repair

Apple will service a variety of issues and parts related to Beats headphones. This includes accidental damage, lost or missing items (like a Powerbeats Pro earbud or charging case), and battery failures (due to defects or wear through regular use).

To find out if your particular Beats issue qualifies for repair, you can follow the steps and prompts below to make an appointment or service request through Apple support.

Costs and time needed for Beats repair

If you send in your Beats to Apple, the company estimates that service will take 3 to 10 business days from the day you ship your product. For service through a local Apple Authorized Service Provider, you’ll need to ask for an approximate timeline.

If you have AppleCare Plus, you can request Express Replacement Service to have a replacement pair of Beats shipped to you while you return your Beats to Apple.

Repair costs will depend on the Beats product you have, your issue, and whether or not you’re covered under AppleCare Plus or another warranty like the Apple One Year Limited Warranty or consumer law. For manufacturing defects covered by the Apple One Year Limited Warranty or consumer law, the repair is free. AppleCare Plus coverage includes service for up to two incidents of accidental damage. Each incident is subject to a service fee, which is $29 for eligible Beats headphones and earphones (Beats EP, Beats Pro, Beats Solo Pro, Beats Solo3 Wireless, Beats Studio3 Wireless, BeatsX, Powerbeats Pro, and Powerbeats3 Wireless).

For out-of-warranty repairs, Apple has a support page that outlines its fees, which range from $49 to $199 depending on your device. It notes that Apple reserves the right to determine if your product is eligible for out-of-warranty repairs or replacements. Beats headphones that have broken into several pieces, for example, are not eligible for any out-of-warranty services.

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10 ways to use the S Pen on a Samsung Galaxy device

samsung Galaxy Note 8 S Pen writing
There’s a number of handy ways to customize and use your S Pen on a Samsung Galaxy device.

  • To use the S Pen on a Samsung Galaxy device, you’ll need to release it from its holder and tap the screen.
  • The S Pen stylus comes with all Galaxy Note devices, and some Galaxy and Galaxy Tab devices.
  • Beyond the traditional stylus actions, there are additional features that can make the S Pen even more useful.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

The S Pen is a stylus that’s designed to work with the Samsung Galaxy, Galaxy Note, and Galaxy Tab phones and tablets.

If it came with your Galaxy device, you won’t need to connect it, but there are still a few steps needed to use it. And the newer your device, the more features you’ll have access to with the S Pen.

How to use S Pen on Samsung Galaxy

You can start using the S Pen by pressing on the end of it to release it from your Galaxy device. Your Galaxy will vibrate to let you know that it recognizes you’ve released it.

Galaxy Note 5 S Pen Stylus
Press in the S Pen to release it from the holder.

Your S Pen should start working immediately. If it doesn’t, hover the S Pen over the screen and quickly double-press the button in the middle of the stylus.

Ways to use the S Pen

You can use the S Pen to do anything that you could normally do with your finger. And depending on the Galaxy Note or Tab model you have, you may be able to use some or all of the following useful features. Test them all out and see which ones you like.

Take notes on the lock screen. Simply take out your S Pen and write on the locked screen.

Customize the pen button. Press and hold the pen button. Go into your settings’ advanced features section for the S Pen and select “S Pen remote” or “Air actions.” Then tap “Hold down Pen button to” and select the desired option.

Annotate a PDF. Open the desired PDF file in the Samsung Notes app and write your notes on it with the S Pen as you read.

samsung galaxy s pen
Write or draw on PDFs and images with your stylus.

Automatically change your handwriting to text. Turn on your S Pen and open the Samsung Notes app. Create your handwritten note and hit save, then tap the handwriting-to-text icon in the lower toolbar.

Turn your stylus into a remote. Go into your settings, then select “Advanced Features,” and then “S Pen,” followed by “Air Actions.” Then tap the toggle to turn on the “S Pen remote” option.

Remotely take photos and videos. Follow the steps above to use the stylus as a remote. Then, when you have the camera open and ready, simply tap the end of the stylus once to take a photo or begin a video. Tapping twice will switch between the front and rear cameras. This works when the stylus is less than 10 meters away from the device.

Control your music and other media with the S Pen. Once you’ve set up your S Pen as a remote, you’ll also have the ability to start and stop your media by tapping the end of the stylus while watching a video or listening to music.

Customize air actions. Swipe down on your device, and on the notification panel, select “S Pen air actions.” Under “App actions,” select the app you want to customize. Tap the item you want to customize and select either “Pen button” or “Gestures.”

samsung galaxy s pen
Air actions, also known as “air commands,” give you quick access to useful features.

Use direct pen input. This is turned on by default and allows you to write in text boxes, like in the Messages, Internet, or Phone app, and also converts your handwriting to text.

Advance through a slide deck. Open a presentation on your phone, then pull down your notification menu and choose to use your phone as a touchpad. Go into presentation mode and click your pen once to go to the next slide, or twice to go back a slide.

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5 ways to fix a PS4 controller that won’t charge

Playstation 4 PS4 controller
Sometimes PS4 controllers don’t quite charge the way they’re supposed to, but you can try a few troubleshooting tricks.

  • If your PS4 controller won’t charge, you can try swapping out the charging cable or checking the charging port.
  • You can also try resetting and re-pairing your controller, or performing a power cycling on the PS4.
  • The issue may also be with the charging port or the charging cable.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

There are many reasons why your PS4 controller may not be charging. And those reasons can range from the minor, like cable issues or dust, to more major problems, which might mean you need to buy a brand new controller.

Before you go out and replace a finicky PS4 controller, it’s always a good idea to first do some troubleshooting to see if you can get your device to charge again – which could be easier than you think.

Here are five troubleshooting tips to get you back to gaming sooner.

Plug your PS4 into your laptop or another device to charge it

playstation controller PC gaming desktop set-up
Make sure that the charging cable is inserted correctly into the outlet at the top of the controller and your computer.

Sometimes controllers have difficulty charging directly from the PS4, but testing out the controller by plugging it into another device — like your Mac, PC, or Android — can help you narrow down the reasons why it’s not charging.

If it’s not charging from another source, then you know that it’s not the PS4 itself that’s causing the problem. 

Swap out the charging cable

PS4/Playstation 4 controller charger
You might need to switch out the charging cord if your PS4 controller isn’t charging properly.

The issue may not be with the controller itself but with the charging cable. Try a different cable or try using that cable to charge another controller.

You can also check the cable for physical signs of damage such as fraying on the cord or built-up grime in the plug. 

 

Check out the charging port

Why won't my PS4 controller charge
Make sure that the charging cable is inserted correctly into the outlet at the top of the controller and your computer.

Built-up dust or grit may be interrupting the power flow and keeping your controller from charging. A quick pass with a wooden toothpick or compressed air may help.

Reset and re-pair your controller

ps41
Use a toothpick or bobby pin to press into the small hole on the back of your PS4 controller to reset it.

Go to the Settings menu on your PS4 and under “Devices,” remove all devices from the list. Then, on your controller, press something into the small hole on the underside of the controller and hold it for five seconds. A toothpick or bobby pin, for example, may do the trick.

Finally, re-sync the controller to the PS4 using the PS button. If you have issues re-pairing your PS4 controller, see our article on how to connect your controller to your PS4.

Conduct a power cycling on your PS4

PlayStation 4 PS4 controller
Turning off your console and controller, unplugging them, and restarting them may do the trick.

Turn off your PS4 console and controller, and unplug the PS4’s power cord from the outlet. Wait 5 to 10 minutes, and with the PS4 still unplugged, hold down the power button for 30 seconds to drain all its leftover energy. Then, plug the PS4 back in, turn it on, and see if the issue has been fixed. 

If your controller still isn’t charging after troubleshooting, check if it’s still under warranty with Sony or the retailer you purchased it from. 

If so, you may be able to get a replacement, or swap out some of the hardware, without having to shell out money for a brand new controller.

DualShock 4 Controller (small)

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How to add a printer and print directly from your iPhone or iPad, with or without AirPrint

printing from iphone printer office
There’s a few different ways to print from your iPhone – the easiest of which is using AirPrint.

  • The easiest way to print from your iPhone or iPad is with AirPrint.
  • When you add a printer to your iPhone with AirPrint, you can directly print with a wireless connection.
  • You can also print from your iPhone without AirPrint by downloading your printer’s app or plugging in a USB cord to your printer.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

If you want to print on your iPhone or iPad, it can be easier than you might think. The simplest way to print from an iPhone is by adding a printer with AirPrint, so you can print directly with a wireless connection.

You can also print wirelessly without AirPrint by downloading your printer’s app on an iPhone or iPad, or by connecting your devices with a USB cable and adapter. Here’s how to do it all.

How to print from an iPhone or iPad with AirPrint

Most current printers with wireless capabilities have the AirPrint feature, which allows the printer to easily sync up with an iPhone or iPad and print directly.

To add a printer to your iPhone or iPad with AirPrint and use it to print:

1. Open the document, image, or webpage you wish to print. This can be located in your email, web browser, Photos app, Files app, or elsewhere.

2. Locate and hit the “Share” button, which is the square with an arrow aiming upward out of its center. If you don’t see this button, depending on the app you’re using, you may need to select the icon of three horizontal dots or the icon of an arrow pointing to the left.

airprint
Tap the “Share” button.

3. In the pop-up, scroll down until you see an icon of a printer next to the word “Print.”

print2
Select “Print” from the list of actions.

4. Tap “Print,” and on the next screen, tap “Select Printer” at the top. Find and select the name of the nearby printer you wish to use.

print3
Tap “Select Printer” and find your printer in the list on the next page.

5. Hit the word “Print” written in blue in the top-right corner of the screen.

The AirPrint enabled printer will now be added to your list of preferred devices and will come up as an option for printing whenever in range. You can add another printer to your iPhone at any time by following the same steps with a new printer.

How to print from an iPhone or iPad without AirPrint

Not all printers have the AirPrint feature, especially if they are a bit older. But if they have a wireless capability, you should still be able to print from it wirelessly – you’ll just have to download your printer’s app on the App Store.

To set up a printer on your iPhone or iPad without AirPrint and use it to print:

1. Open your printer’s app on your device.

2. Turn on your printer’s Wi-Fi.

3. Go into your phone or tablet’s “Settings” and hit the Wi-Fi tab.

4. Locate your printer under “OTHER NETWORKS” and tap on it.

5. Pull up the document, image, or webpage you want to print, then hit the “Share” icon.

6. You should now be able to connect the printer through the app and print.

How to print from an iPhone or iPad with a USB cable

To print from an iPhone or iPad with a printer that can’t connect wirelessly, you’ll have to use a piece of hardware as the go-between. You’ll need a USB cable and a USB OTG (on-the-go) adapter that connects your iPhone to the USB cable.

To print from an iPhone or iPad with a USB cable:

1. Turn on your printer and connect one end of the USB cord to your printer and the other end to the USB OTG cord. Plug the other end of the USB OTG cord into your iPhone or iPad.

2. A pop-up should appear on your iPhone or iPad – tap “OK.”

3. Then, on your iPhone or iPad, go to the document you wish to print and tap the Share button.

4. In the Share menu, select the “Print” option.

5. The connected printer should appear next to “Printer” on the Printer Options page.

6. Tap “Print” in the upper-right corner.

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A beginner’s guide to broadband internet, the most popular type of internet in the US

High speed internet
Broadband is the most popular type of internet access around.

  • Broadband internet is another name for high-speed internet service, usually defined as 25Mbps or faster.
  • There are four major types of broadband internet: cable, DSL, fiber, and satellite.
  • The average broadband speed in the US is 124Mbps, but DSL is much slower at about 35Mbps, and fiber is the fastest at 1,000Mbps.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Simply put, broadband is any high-speed internet service. Broadband is the most common kind of internet service available, and that’s been true in most populated regions of the US for a couple of decades.

If you’re reading this, there’s an extremely good chance that you’re using broadband internet.

Broadband internet, explained

Prior to the widespread availability of broadband, most internet was delivered to residential homes via dial-up service – the same technology used for telephone calls. This meant that picking up the phone would turn off your internet access, and internet speeds were pathetically slow – about 0.056 megabits per second (Mbps).

These days, nearly every home in the US uses broadband. And in contrast to dial-up, the average broadband speed in the US is about 124Mbps, according to DecisionData.org – that’s about 2,200 times faster.

Router on laptop keyboard
Broadband speeds vary depending upon your location, service provider, and service plan.

While the average broadband speed is 124Mbps, actual broadband speeds vary dramatically depending upon where you live, your service provider, and your actual broadband service plan. Since 2015, the Federal Communications Commission has defined broadband as any service that delivers at least 25Mbps download speed and 3Mbps upload speed, though broadband can also reach “gigabit” speeds – 1,000Mbps.

Broadband isn’t the same thing as Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is the wireless network that broadcasts internet signals around your home or office. “Broadband” describes the type and speed of those signals, which are delivered to your home and then passed through a router. The router can then send the internet to your computer and other devices via Ethernet cable or wirelessly via Wi-Fi.

The four major types of broadband internet

There are four major kinds of broadband service. Not only do they use fundamentally different technologies to get the data to your door, but they vary by speed and price. Here is a brief overview of each:

Cable

Coax Cable modem
Broadband cable internet uses a coaxial cable to transmit internet signals.

Broadband cable internet uses the same coaxial cable that brings cable TV into your home; it’s become a popular form of broadband because it lets consumers use the same company for their television and internet access.

Cable is fairly fast, usually able to reach speeds as high as 500Mbps (depending upon the service plan you choose). Cable’s bandwidth is shared among everyone in a service area, though, so you might find it slows down in the evening when everyone is at home and streaming video.

DSL

A laptop and router
DSL isn’t as fast as other broadband types, but is still better than dial-up.

Digital subscriber line (DSL) uses phone lines to send and receive data and is championed by traditional phone service providers to leverage their infrastructure.

It’s relatively slow, especially compared to cable, generally limited to about 5Mbps to 35Mbps. But in rural areas, it’s often the most available option.

Fiber

Fiber internet line
A fiber optic technician splices together fiber optic cables for house connections.

As the name suggests, fiber uses fiber optic cables to transmit data using light rather than electricity.

It’s generally the fastest residential internet you can buy, topping out at 1,000 Mbps (which is referred to as a “gigabit” service). Like cable, fiber shares bandwidth across groups of customers but carries so much data that customers should never notice a slowdown.

Fiber isn’t available in many areas but is slowly spreading to new cities.

Satellite

Starlink Satellite Internet
Starlink Internet communication satellites seen in the night sky.

Satellite internet isn’t common because it’s typically the most expensive service per megabit, offering the lowest overall value. It’s most often used in rural regions that are poorly serviced by DSL, cable, and fiber.

The economics of broadband satellites might be changing, though, as SpaceX deploys its Starlink constellation of broadband internet satellites. While still being deployed and operating in a limited beta capacity, Starlink costs $99 per month and is expected to eventually offer download speeds of 300Mbps.

Related Article Module: SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellites could make astronomy on Earth ‘impossible’ and create a space-junk nightmare, some scientists warn

However Starlink has also proved controversial, as its satellites are clearly visible from Earth, attracting complaints from scientists and environmentalists about light pollution and space junk.

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A guide to network security keys, the password for your Wi-Fi network

woman on computer
A network security key is essentially a password designed to unlock a Wi-Fi network.

  • A network security key is basically your Wi-Fi password – it’s the encryption key that protects your internet.
  • There are three different kinds of network security keys: WEP, WPA, and WPA2, each more secure than the last.
  • The type of security key you choose, along with how strong your password is, determines how safe your network is from hackers.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

If you’re new to setting up or troubleshooting your Wi-Fi connection, you might be wondering what a network security key is. Luckily, it’s not as confusing as it sounds – your network security key is essentially just your Wi-Fi password.

Of course, it’s not actually that simple – if it were, we wouldn’t need another word for it. A network security key is a specific type of password that allows your Wi-Fi router to talk to the device you’re using, and allows you to use the internet securely.

What to know about network security keys

Network security keys have become more sophisticated over time, and there are now a few different kinds that work a few different ways. Knowing what kind of network key your router uses can be important for setting it up and solving issues.

There are three common types of network security keys.

How to find your network security key

Depending on which security key you go with, your password might be located in a couple different places – most of the time, default WEP keys can be found on a piece of paper given to you by the network owner with the router. Default WPA/WPA2 keys are usually printed somewhere on the side of your router, often on a sticker.

While setting up your router, you should create a new password so that you can remember it more easily. You can also go in and change your Wi-Fi password at any time.

man setting up router laptop
When setting up a new router, always change the password.

If you’ve forgotten your Wi-Fi password, it’s not the end of the world. As long as your computer is already connected to the router, you can pull the password up that way instead – this works on a Mac or on a PC. You can also share access with others across Apple devices, whether you’re using a Mac or an iPhone.

How to create a strong password

Network security keys are an important part of keeping your network protected – and in a world where we do most of our business online, that protection is more important than ever.

Making sure you select the highest security network you can is part of that, but another part is selecting a good password. Experts say that a strong password has as many of the following qualities as possible:

  • Is 12 characters or longer (the longer the better)
  • Uses a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols
  • Doesn’t use common substitutions (like zero for “O,” $ for “S,” et cetera)
  • Doesn’t use an easy keyboard path (like “asdfjkl,” “qwerty,” or 123456)
Password Pin security
Picking a proper password is incredibly important.

One of the most highly recommended ways to create a secure password is to make it a random combination of words that one might not usually find together, or else a simple sentence. For example, security experts would likely say that “PeanutButterManPants” and “PutThatDownJordan” are both strong passwords. Add some numbers or symbols and you have one of the best possible defenses against hackers.

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What is a subwoofer? How a bass-focused speaker can give your home or car sound system a boost

Two subwoofers
Subwoofers enhance the deepest sounds in your music.

  • Subwoofers are a type of speaker that boost the lowest frequencies in whatever audio you’re listening to.
  • These low frequencies usually include bass guitars, pipe organs, deep voices, kick drums, and movie sound effects.
  • Subwoofers are incredibly popular for home theater and car stereo systems, and are easy to set up.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

How many speakers do you own? If you count your phone, computer, TV, car – there’s probably more than you think. Speakers are basic equipment for anyone who wants to listen to music, watch TV, or even browse the internet.

But for audiophiles who value having a quality sound system, speakers aren’t so basic. Deciding what equipment you’ll need for the best sound possible can get complicated, especially if you’re new to audio tech.

One of the best kinds of speakers you can get to immediately enhance your sound is a subwoofer. These reinforce the bass and richness of whatever you listen to.

Here’s everything to know about subwoofers, including how they work, where to use them, and what kind to get.

What is a subwoofer?

Every sound in the world has a frequency. Higher-pitched sounds have higher frequencies, and vice versa.

Regular speakers and surround sound systems can’t properly reproduce low frequency sounds. This makes a lot of music and movies sound flat.

A subwoofer (or “sub”) focuses on producing the lower frequencies within music, known as the bass and sub-bass, amplified through the woofer.

While regular speakers can allow you to hear the bass, a subwoofer enables the listener to feel the sound. The frequency range, specifically between 20 to 200 hertz, highlights instruments within that range like bass guitars, pipe organs, and kick drums. It also enhances deep voices and movie sound effects like explosions.

If you’ve ever gone to a movie theater and felt your chair shake when something big happens on screen, it’s probably because of subwoofers.

Subwoofer iwth speakers
Subwoofers take away the strain your speakers are under.

Depending on what devices you already have for your sound system, a subwoofer may be the perfect addition. Subs take away the strain your speakers are under to reproduce the audio’s complete sound, allowing you to not only hear but feel how a director or artist intended for you to experience their work.

Where to use a subwoofer

Deciding what kind of subwoofer you need may take some time. But here are a few tips for those looking to add a subwoofer to either a home theater or car stereo system.

Home theater subwoofer

Home Theater subwoofer
A sub-woofer speaker set up along the side of a 7.1 surround sound home theater system.

In general, a home theater subwoofer integrates into your central sound system, increasing the width and depth of a system’s soundstage.

The sound waves created are omnidirectional and bounce around the room. Both the room size and furniture arrangement can affect audio, with bass frequencies being sensitive to room factors. There’s a chance the waves bounce into each other, making standing waves or bass nulls.

  • Standing waves: These waves are determined by the size of the room and length of the soundwave, creating an excess of bass energy producing a ‘boomy’ effect that lacks definition.
  • Bass nulls: Occurs when reflecting soundwaves cancel each other out, creating a dead spot.

Related Article Module: The 5 best home theater systems of 2021

Installing a subwoofer into your home might take some work. Try placing it in different spots around the room, like corners surrounded by a sound-absorption device or a filled bookshelf to help reinforce the bass. Understanding the environmental factors in your home, like its natural acoustics, will help you find the optimal position for your home theater.

Car subwoofer

 Car Subwoofer
Subwoofers installed in the trunk of a car.

Have you ever pulled up alongside another car playing music so bass-heavy that your car shakes? That’s what a good subwoofer does.

Cars come with a factory standard sound system based on their make and model. Most sound systems need to be professionally installed, especially as cars become more advanced.

These are some key factors to consider when shopping for a car subwoofer.

  • Size: The bigger the subwoofer, the richer the bass, so space is essential for placement in your trunk or under a seat.
  • Enclosure type: There are two types of boxes that contain the subwoofer. A sealed enclosure creates deeper bass and is recommended for audio targeting all frequencies. Ported enclosures are louder and are suited for genres like rap and house music.
  • Power: RMS, or average power levels, are connected to the power handling of a subwoofer. A higher RMS means more bass.
  • Sensitivity: Determines how much power a sub requires to produce a particular volume, expressed in sound pressure level or SPL. High SPL ratings are more sensitive and require less power to produce high volumes.
  • Impedance: The subwoofer’s electrical resistance is measured in ‘ohms’ – the impedance of your amp and sub need to match.

Once the correct specifications are chosen and installed, you’ll notice a richer sound. Subwoofers offer a better bass response, allowing you to listen to sounds your speakers couldn’t reproduce alone. With quality subs in your car, the chance of your music sounding distorted at high volumes is significantly lower.

Popular types of subwoofers

If you have a better idea of what and how subwoofers work, you’ll probably need to understand the two types of configurations – passive and active.

A passive subwoofer’s power source is an external amplifier with enough power to maintain bass effects through the subwoofer. An active subwoofer has an amplifier built-in, and requires an AC power source or outlet. Active subwoofers will usually be more powerful than passive ones.

Portable subwoofer
Subwoofers come in various types and styles for various music needs.

Outside of those configurations are various styles of subwoofers, with each style serving a different purpose.

  • Ported: An extra port or hole that allows air to escape to boost the bass level. Sometimes referred to as ‘bass reflex’ speakers, these subwoofers give a rich and thick sound.
  • Sealed Cabinet: A subwoofer without a port or passive radiator. The sound loses depth but is well-rounded with fewer booms and peaks.
  • Passive Radiator: A port is replaced with two passive radiators not wired to the amp. This allows sound to escape with better range and is common in Bluetooth speakers.
  • Front/Down Firing: This sub is based on the placement of the speakers. Front-firing has speakers pointed forward with the sound coming from the front and sides. Downward directs the sound to the front and ground, ideal for elevated speakers.
  • Bandpass: Separated by two chambers with one part with a port to release radiation from the front cone, this subwoofer allows you to specify the bass levels you want to be reproduced through the speakers.
  • Horn Loaded: It uses sound that would usually leak and spreads it out in various directions through a longhorn speaker. This sub type is known for being the loudest of subwoofers.

Each style of subwoofer has a specific environment it works best in. When buying a new sound system, consult with an expert or sales representative about your individual situation.

Once you have all the necessary information, you can start building your sound system to experience sound the way you’re meant to.

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