If you feel like your WiFi has gotten slow and sluggish to a crawl, below are some simple tips and ways to Boost your WiFi Signal to improve performance. This will make Web Browsing and streaming faster, improve dropped WiFi signals and eliminate wireless dead zones.
1. Optimal Router Placement
Where you place your WiFi router can affect wireless coverage. The best place for a WiFi router is in the center of your home, in an open space, away from walls and obstructions. This will allow the signal to reach as far as possible in all directions. It also helps to elevate the router and mount it high on the wall or on the top shelf. Avoid putting the router inside a cabinet, by a window, next to metal objects, heavy-duty appliances or electronics, which emit electromagnetic waves and can impact WiFi performance.
2. Use 5G Instead
If you have a dual-band router, you’ll likely get better speed by using the 5GHz band instead of using the more common 2.4GHz band. The 5 GHz wireless frequency provides faster data rates at shorter distances with less interference than the 2.4 GHz wireless frequency. 5GHz however doesn’t handle obstructions and distances as well and doesn’t reach as far as a 2.4GHz signal will.
3. Change to a Different WiFi Channel if interference is present
Interference can be a big issue in densely populated areas. Signals from other wireless networks, cordless phone systems, microwaves as well as with other electronic devices cause interference that impact speeds. To combat this interference you can switch and use a different available channel. All routers can switch between available channels either automatically or manually when communicating between devices.
A good router set to Automatic will try to choose the least congested channel. However, cheaper routers will just choose a predefined channel, even if its not the best one.
If the Automatic setting isn’t working well try selecting one manually (one that isn’t used in your area). Over time see if that provides better signal and faster speeds. Since channel congestion can change you may want to check in over time to make sure it’s still the best one to use.
In general, for 2.4GHz you want to stick to channels 1, 6, and 11 since they’re the only ones that don’t overlap. 5GHz generally uses non-overlapping channels, which makes channel selection much easier. Even though most countries have six non-overlapping channels (1, 6, 11, and 14), many users leave their router set on the default channel, usually 1 or 6. This results in a WiFi traffic jam. The solution is simple: find out which channel is occupied the least and use that.
4. Control the Bandwidth of your Apps using the QoS (Quality of Service) setting
It takes just one bandwidth hungry app or device to make download and upload speeds come to a crawl. Luckily, modern routers support QoS (Quality of Service), which allow users to prioritize specific traffic types.
For example, you could use QoS to prioritize voice calls over file downloads, this way your calls won’t drop when you download a large file. Sure the file will take a bit longer, but the call is more important.
5. Cut Off unauthorized WiFi users
Always encrypt your WiFi and protect it with a strong password so that you don’t have unwanted guests piggybacking on your network and slowing you down. Never leave your network open. If you have lots of guests, create a separate guest network and either significantly limit its range or protect it with a different password and change the password often. Preferably use WPA2, as WEP is notoriously easy to crack so others can’t get in. An encrypted, password-protected WiFi is a must.
6. Keep Your Router Updated
Even if your wireless network isn’t having a problem, you should make it a point to update your firmware on a regular basis for performance improvements, better features, and security updates. Most current routers have the update process built right into the interface, so it’s just a matter of hitting a firmware upgrade button or download a firmware file from your router’s support page, and upload it to the administration interface. It’s tedious, but once a malware infects a router, it can steal bandwidth and spread itself across the network to other devices.
7. Add an External Antenna (if you can)
Most WiFi router come with small (a few inches tall) and weak (only 4 dB gain) internal antennas. However if your router has a standard RP-SMA antenna connector, then adding a larger external antenna may be a good idea. External antennas are powerful, tend to have a stronger signal and can be hideously large (10 to 15 inches tall). If your router comes with the ability to add one, then your in luck. You can choose between omnidirectional antennas, which send a signal to all directions, or directional ones, which send a signal in one specific direction. Most built-in antennas tend to be omnidirectional. A new, powerful WiFi antenna is a great way to boost WiFi at home or office without buying a new router. Make sure it is marked “high-gain” to actually make a difference.
8. Replace Obsolete Hardware and use the Latest WiFi Technologies
If you are running old hardware you can’t expect to get much better performance. If your still using the older , 802.11n or g all the tweaking we’ve outlined here is not going to get you very far. 802.11g maximum throughput is 54Mbps and 802.11n caps out at 300Mbps. In this case its best to just buy a new 802.11ac router. 802.11ac supports 1Gbps.
The newest wireless technology, IEEE 802.11ac, offers superior download and upload speeds as well as improved range compared to older WiFi technologies. To take advantage of the latest WiFi technologies you need to make sure that both your home router and your WiFi-enabled devices, such as smartphones and laptops, support them.
9. Add a Wireless Range Extender (Booster or Repeater)
Range extenders looks similar to standard routers, but work differently. They are used when your home or office has an area too big for a single router to cover, or if there are lots of corners to go around and walls to penetrate. In this case you will need to buy a range extender. Range extenders pick up your existing WiFi signal (from your wireless router) and rebroadcast it.
An extender should be placed close enough to your main network router to pick up a good signal and yet close enough to the weak spot so it can extend that signal. Range extenders bring connectivity to dead zones. In addition, they often require separate management and may use 2 different SSIDs, which can be a pain. Running a cable and using an access point is always the most reliable WiFi option. If you can’t or are not willing to run a network cable then using the extender is your option.
10. Upgrade to a Mesh WiFi System
Mesh WiFi Systems are more expensive, especially if you have a large home or office, but are designed to cover every corner of your space. Mesh WiFi systems replace your router, rather than extends it. You first connect one node directly to your modem, then place one or more satellite nodes all around your home or office. This setup blankets your space with a single wireless network and uses a single management interface, while offering better performance than extenders. Consider upgrading to a mesh WiFi system instead.
If you have any questions on wireless technologies or any other topic please call our office at (732) 702-5400. Pro-Tech can come to your business or home and assist you with planning, implementation, as well as other services. Please see our website homepage for other services we offer.