How To Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal
WiFi is a wireless networking technology that allows electronic devices to connect to the internet or other networks without the need for cables. WiFi works by using radio waves to transmit data between devices, such as laptops, smartphones, tablets, and routers. It has become a ubiquitous technology that is used in homes, offices, public places, and many other settings.
WiFi is popular because of its convenience, flexibility, and ease of use. It has revolutionized the way we access information, communicate, and interact with the world around us. In this age of constant connectivity, WiFi has become an essential part of our daily lives
If you feel like your Wi-Fi has gotten sluggish, there are many tools you can use to test the speed of your internet. There are also a few tricks you can try to troubleshoot your network issues. However, if the only way you can get decent reception is by standing next to your wireless router, these simple tips can help optimize your network.
1. Select a Good Place for Your Router
Not all places are equally suitable for your router. To start with, you want to avoid placing your router close to metal objects and appliances that emit electromagnetic waves. Metal is the top disrupter of a Wi-Fi signal, and its presence close to a Wi-Fi router can easily create a large dead zone.
Other materials, including glass, wood, plastics, foam, and cardboard, can also disrupt a Wi-Fi signal but their influence on Wi-Fi signal strength tends to be less severe. Keep in mind that many buildings use metal studs (rather than 2×4 wood) for the particle board mounting, and placing your router close to them would be a bad idea. When in doubt, use a handheld stud finder or at least a stud finder app on your smartphone.
Wi-Fi signals radiate outward in all directions, not just horizontally. When your router is on the floor, its ability to emit strong signals is severely limited. For the same reason, people who live in multi-store houses should always locate a Wi-Fi router near the ceiling on the first floor. This way, even the second floor will receive consistent coverage.
2. Update Your Router Firmware
Before you start tweaking things, it’s a good idea to update your router’s firmware. Router manufacturers are always improving software to eke out a bit more speed. How easy—or how hard—it is to upgrade your firmware depends entirely on your device’s manufacturer and model. Most current routers have the update process built right into the administration interface, so it’s just a matter of hitting a firmware upgrade button.
Other models, particularly if they’re older, still require you to visit the manufacturer’s website, download a firmware file from your router’s support page, and upload it to the administration interface. It’s tedious, but still, a good thing to do since it would be such a simple fix. In fact, even if your wireless network isn’t ailing, you should make it a point to update your firmware on a regular basis for performance improvements, better features, and security updates.
3. Make sure you’re connected to the 5Ghz band
If you have a dual-band or tri-band Wi-Fi router, you should be using the 5GHz band rather than the 2.4GHz band whenever possible. Many smart home devices (like video doorbells and smart speakers) can only use the slower 2.4GHz band, but your phone, laptop, tablet, and TV should all be connected via 5GHz to take advantage of the significantly higher speeds it offers.
Use the Wi-Fi settings on each of your devices to see what Wi-Fi band you’re using. Then, you should let the devices choose the best frequency for themselves. You can do this if you have a modern router by going to its configuration page, finding the 5GHz band option, and giving it the same name or SSID as the 2.4GHz band.
4. Check Your Wired Internet Connection
Before you blame the Wi-Fi, make sure the internet coming into your house is performing as it should. You can do this by connecting your computer directly to the router using an Ethernet cable. If your laptop doesn’t have an Ethernet port, you will need a USB-to-Ethernet adapter(Opens in a new window). Run a speed test(Opens in a new window) to see your internet speed.
If it doesn’t match the speed on your internet bill, you may need to call your ISP or replace your router or modem. If your speed test does match your internet bill, but it still seems slow, it may be time to pony up for a better plan. (My grandmother was convinced her Wi-Fi was faulty, only for me to tell her she was subscribed to a snail’s-pace 3Mbps connection.) If everything seems okay, try running the test again wirelessly, standing right next to the router.
If you get similarly good speeds next to the router, but not elsewhere in the house, then your Wi-Fi coverage may be to blame. If your internet is still slow standing right next to the router, you may have some outdated gear that needs an upgrade.
5. Buy a Wi-Fi Repeater/ Booster/ Extender
Wi-Fi repeaters are relatively simple devices that take an existing signal from your Wi-Fi router and rebroadcast it as a new network. This new network is just an extension of your main network, and all data that go through it also go through the main network. Wi-Fi boosters and extenders are very similar, but they also amplify the existing signal before rebroadcasting it to create a second network.
Because Wi-Fi boosters typically have a greater range than Wi-Fi repeaters, they make sense in situations where the original signal is very weak. To achieve the best performance when using a Wi-Fi repeater or booster, it’s a good idea to use a Wi-Fi booster app to analyze existing Wi-Fi coverage and determine the optimal way how to extend the existing Wi-Fi network.
6. Switch to a Different Wi-Fi Channel
Just like lanes on the highway, there are multiple Wi-Fi channels on which a Wi-Fi router can broadcast. Their exact number depends on which frequency band is used (with minor variations based on your geographical location due to local regulations).
Data transmitted in the 2.4 GHz frequency band is frequently slowed down by noisy traffic jams because most countries have four non-overlapping channels (1, 6, 11, and 14) in this part of the Wi-Fi network frequency spectrum, with each channel being just 20 MHz wide. To make the problem even worse, many users leave their router set on the default channel, which is usually either Channel 1 or Channel 6.
This results in a Wi-Fi traffic jam as too many packets are trying to drive on the same line. The solution is simple: find out which channel is occupied the least and switch to it. This can be done with the help of NetSpot, a professional and easy-to-use Wi-Fi analysis and surveillance tool.
7. Kick Off Wi-Fi Intruder
It’s entirely possible the problem has nothing to do with interference or Wi-Fi range. If your network is open or has a weak password, you could have an unwanted guest or two piggybacking on your network. If the neighbor is downloading multiple 4K movies on your Wi-Fi, your video chats will suffer. A tool like Wireless Network Watcher(Opens in a new window) will show you all the devices using your internet and help you sniff out a neighbor who may be stealing your Wi-Fi.
Your router’s admin interface may also be a traffic analyzer of some sort that will tell you which devices are using lots of data. You may even find one of your own kids is sucking up bandwidth without you realizing it. (If so, here’s how to kick them off).
8. Control Quality
Most modern routers come with Quality of Service (QoS) tools to limit the amount of bandwidth that apps use, like the Netgear menu(Opens in a new window) above. QoS settings can typically be found under advanced settings in the network’s administrator interface.
Some routers may even make it easier by offering a one-click multimedia or gaming setting, so you know those applications will be prioritized. If you’re trying to stream games while sharing a network, there are steps you can take to make things better.
9. Reach Further With a Range Extender or Mesh Wi-Fi
If all of the above tips fail, it’s possible that your house is just too big for a single router to send a good signal everywhere. Your router may also just have too many corners to go around and walls to penetrate. If this is the case, you would need another solution to extend your signal: a range extender or mesh network.
Range extenders receive a signal from your router, then rebroadcast it to your devices, and vice-versa. In this way, you get an inexpensive solution that can act as a repeater to extend the range of your wireless router. However, they are often not as effective as mesh Wi-Fi systems, which replace your existing router entirely.
10. Make sure there are no Wi-Fi freeloaders
Your Wi-Fi might be buckling under a load of a lot of users or devices all using your internet at the same time. If you aren’t securing your Wi-Fi network with a strong password, it’s entirely possible that neighbors are connecting to your network and siphoning off your bandwidth.
If that’s the case, you should use your router’s mobile app or admin control panel to change the password right away and make sure it’s a strong one too. Even if you don’t have a freeloader, your Wi-Fi might be overtaxed by an army of devices in your home. If several different family members are trying to stream Netflix at the same time, that can slow things down substantially.
To find out, browse the list of devices connected to your network (again, your router’s mobile app or admin control panel can usually provide this info) and use the router’s admin controls to evict users or devices you don’t want online.
11. Purchase a Better Internet Plan
It’s easy to underestimate just how many devices these days connect to the internet via Wi-Fi. From computers and mobile phones to various smart home products and appliances, these Wi-Fi-connected devices consume a substantial amount of bandwidth, and not all internet plans can provide it.
If you’ve been paying for the same internet plan for the last 10 years, then you should look at what other options are available and considering consider upgrading. You might even be able to save some money since the prices of fast internet plans have gone down substantially since the early days of broadband internet
12. Contact Your Internet Service Provider
Last, but not least, consider contacting your internet service provider and asking for help. If the ISP truly cares about their customers, they will help you remotely diagnose your Wi-Fi performance issues or even send over a technician to measure your Wi-Fi signal strength and help you boost your wireless signal.
By following these tips, you can improve the strength and range of your WiFi signal. Whether you need to position your router differently or upgrade to a newer model, there are many ways to boost your WiFi signal and enjoy faster internet speeds throughout your home.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
1. What can cause a weak WiFi signal?
Several factors can contribute to a weak WiFi signal, including the distance between your device and the router, the number of obstacles between your device and the router, the type of walls in your home, interference from other wireless devices, and the age or quality of your router.
2. How can I check the strength of my WiFi signal?
Most devices have a built-in feature that allows you to check the strength of your WiFi signal. On a computer, you can hover over the WiFi icon in the taskbar to see the signal strength. On a smartphone or tablet, you can typically find the signal strength in the settings or status bar.
3. Will a WiFi booster improve my signal?
Yes, a WiFi booster can improve your signal by extending the range of your WiFi network. A WiFi booster, also known as a range extender, picks up the existing signal from your router and rebroadcasts it to areas of your home where the signal is weak.
4. What is the best position for my router?
The best position for your router is in a central location, away from walls and other obstacles that can interfere with the signal. If possible, place the router on a high shelf or mount it on a wall to help distribute the signal more evenly throughout your home.
5. What is a mesh network?
A mesh network is a WiFi system that uses multiple devices, called nodes or access points, to provide seamless coverage throughout your home. Mesh networks are designed to eliminate dead spots and provide a strong signal in every room.
6. Can I boost my WiFi signal for free?
Yes, there are several things you can do to boost your WiFi signal for free, such as positioning your router properly, updating your router firmware, switching to a different WiFi channel, and reducing interference from other wireless devices. However, some methods, such as upgrading your router or using a WiFi mesh network, may require an investment