In my house, Internet connectivity is like currency. It’s how I get my kids to meet all of my demands. Okay, okay, it’s how I negotiate with them. Don’t judge me unless you’ve been there!
The problem I’ve had in the past though is that when I cut off access to the Internet in the house so the kids can’t use it, I also cut off access for myself (which doesn’t sit well with me). Just as well, it sometimes cuts off access to the one kid who might actually be listening to me and doing nothing wrong.
XFINITY xFi to the rescue
The new XFINITY xFi web interface and app (you can use one or the other or both) solves my Internet dilemma. With xFi, I can cut off access to an individual device (say, just an iPad) or to a family member’s entire arsenal of gadgets all at once. And it doesn’t affect the other devices in the house one bit.
Setup you’ll need to use xFi
Before I get into more of the benefits of xFi and how I use it, let me make sure we’re all on the same page with how your equipment needs to be set up to use the new XFINITY xFi.
For those of you who do rent an XFINITY gateway from Comcast, you can access the xFi features by going to www.xfinity.com/myxfi in your browser or by downloading the XFINITY xFi app from the Apple Store [view app] for your iPhone or iPad or from Google Play [view app] for your Android devices. Both the web interface and the app interface are identical so pick the one that is easiest for you to access and use.
Simple xFi tasks
Once you have access to xFi, you can perform a series of simple tasks regarding your gateway and Wi-Fi network such as:
- Restarting the gateway (even remotely)
- Looking up your Wi-Fi passwords (useful when guests visit and you can’t remember the password)
- Changing the Wi-Fi passwords (much easier than logging into your gateway interface)
Labeling and assigning your devices with xFi
This step is arguably the hardest step when you first start using xFi but it’s worth taking the time due to the immense payoff you get when everything is set up correctly. I’m talking about labeling and assigning your devices.
In English, what we are trying to do is recognize each device connected to your network, give it a name (like “Suzie’s iPad”) and then assign the device to a family member in your house (ex: “Suzie”). You need only do this one time for each device in your house.
The trick is to recognize the device. Usually you are given some generic manufacturer’s name for each device but sometimes, especially with new tablets and smartphones, you get lucky and get a more recognizable name like “iPhone 6 Plus”.
For the techies of the world, you can also see the device’s current IP address, whether it is connected via a wired or wireless connection and the device’s MAC address.
Once you are certain you know what a device is, you can label it with a name that makes more sense to you. The name isn’t as important as is the ability for you to recognize what device it is when you read the label. In my house, I have labels like “[child names]’s iPad”, “Family Room Roku” and “Nest Thermostat”. xFi also lets you assign an icon to the device so you can visually tell the difference between a game system and a smartphone.
Once you have your devices recognized and properly labeled, it’s time to start assigning them to your family members. xFi refers to these as profiles and it’s best to make a profile for each person in your family. xFi even gives you some fun avatars to use for each profile to quickly recognize them. My avatar is the fox because I think I’m the fox of the family!
When you are done setting up your profiles, it’s time to go back to your device list to assign each device on your home network to a profile. In other words, “Suzie’s iPad” should be assigned to “Suzie”. Yes, it’s that simple.
I know what you’re thinking though. What about the devices that don’t really belong to one individual? xFi is one step ahead of you with a built-in profile called “Household”. This is the profile I use to assign my “home” devices like the Nest Thermostat, Roku streaming boxes, security cameras, etc.
FYI there’s another built-in profile called “Guest” that you can use when guests visit your house and connect their devices to your home network.
Pausing, unpausing devices and setting bedtime rules
With all of your devices labeled and assigned to profiles, it’s time to let the magic work. I call it magic because I feel like a magician when I use these XFINITY xFi features.
Like being able to select my son’s iPad and “pause” it. That means no Internet access on his iPad until I decide to “unpause” it again. Or like being able to select my son’s profile and pause every single device in his profile which cuts off Internet access to him but not to anyone else in the house. Note: xFi only cuts off Internet access from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). It will not cut off cellular access from a device connected to your cellular provider.
I can also set bedtime rules, both for weekdays and weekends. This is the time that all devices in a profile automatically pause. Have a child that likes to sneak in some Internet time when they are supposed to be sleeping? xFi gives you the power to fix this.
Keep in mind, the bedtime rules are per profile. So you can have one child’s devices automatically pause at 8 pm while another older child’s devices last until 10 pm.
XFINITY xFi also comes with parental controls. Again, this is per profile so you can block adult-related sites for your kids but leave your own profile unblocked just in case you get the itch to do some online gambling or shop for some new lingerie.
Other miscellaneous things you can do with xFi
There are a few more things that you can do with xFi that I haven’t covered yet. One is to view your Internet usage by profile over the past 24 hours. Or click on an individual profile and view an hour-by-hour graph of their Internet usage.
You can also set up alerts to get notified anytime a new device connects to your network. Not likely that your neighbors are stealing your Wi-Fi signal but just in case, you can be alerted when it happens. For me, it’s helpful when one of my sons fires up a device like an old Kindle, that he hasn’t used in a while and that I didn’t label when I first configured my devices.
Finally, if you are having trouble with a device, you can troubleshoot it by clicking xFi’s “Troubleshoot a Device” button. xFi will ask you to select which device you are having trouble and then give you a status report as well as a few tips for getting the device reconnected (if that is the issue).
Note: I received compensation in exchange for writing this blog post. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.