Tech Q&A: What to do if FaceTime video calls disconnect

Question: When I make a FaceTime video call over Wi-Fi, my iPhone XS drops the call shortly after connecting. This doesn’t happen when I use an iPhone 6, iPad Air or iMac on the same Wi-Fi network. What’s wrong? — T.B., Apple Valley, Minn.

Answer: It’s not unusual to have a dropped FaceTime call, and there are several possible causes.

The first thing to check is whether you and the person you are calling both have strong Wi-Fi signals (the weaker the signal, the less data-carrying capacity.) You need a download speed of at least 5 megabits per second (mbps) for a FaceTime call (to check, go to speedtest.net.)

If your Wi-Fi connection isn’t that fast, one solution is for the callers to move closer to their Wi-Fi routers to get a better signal. Another is to supplement your too-slow Wi-Fi connection with your cellular connection. To do that, open Settings, click Cellular and make sure FaceTime is turned on. Then scroll down and make sure “Wi-Fi Assist” is on. (Warning: If FaceTime switches over to cellular data too often, it could use a lot of your monthly data allotment.)

Here are other things to look for:

Make sure all devices on a FaceTime call have the same version of Apple’s iOS operating system (check by going to Settings, clicking General, then clicking Software Update.)Adjust the phone’s settings. Go to Settings, click General, then scroll down and click Reset. Choose Reset Network Settings. Afterward, you will need to re-enter your Wi-Fi password.

(For other potential solutions, see tinyurl.com/yxkcbwqj).

Question: A power surge during a thunderstorm ruined my PC. But I had previously backed up the PC to a Seagate Backup Plus external disk drive. Can I use the Seagate drive with my MacBook Air? — M.G., Minnetrista, Minn.

Answer: Yes, but first you need to deal with some compatibility issues.

Your drive came from the factory with the exFAT (Extensible File Allocation Table) data storage format, which is compatible with both Windows and macOS, but not optimized for either one. If you never changed that format, just plug the Seagate drive into your Mac and it will work.

But, if you optimized the drive for Windows by reformatting it to the NTFS (New Technology File System) data storage format, you will need to install Seagate’s free “Paragon Driver” (see tinyurl.com/y54weh2e) on your Mac. It will enable the Mac to use the NTFS format.

Do not reformat the drive to optimize it for the Mac; that will erase all data on the drive.

Question: I have about 500 3.5-inch floppy disks, and some Commodore computer equipment. Does anyone have a use for these things, or is the landfill the best solution? — R.A., Bloomington, Minn.

Answer: Old computers and floppy disks are valuable only to collectors (see “Commodore Collectors” at tinyurl.com/y33u7qtm). But if you can’t give away your gear, your computer equipment can be recycled to reclaim the metals it contains. Recycling is available at Best Buy stores (see tinyurl.com/y2kjppyt), much of it for free. Unfortunately, floppy disks contain nothing worth recycling (they are just plastic disks with an iron oxide coating), so they have to be discarded.

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