Wi-Fi is becoming an essential tool for connecting your devices and is one of the most important developments in the evolution of the internet in today’s connected world. Most people would rather connect to the internet via WiFi than have to plug a cable into their device. A poor WiFi signal is a common problem that can hinder you from being productive when online.
There are many reasons why your WiFi signal keeps can perform slowly. This can include WiFi signal strength, physical location, firmware/ software issues, hardware issues or limitations or maybe your area is just too big for your WiFi modem to send a signal.
This Tech tip will cover some things you can try to help speed things up.
Visit – How to Set up and Optimise Your Home Network for my great tips on how to speed up your home network.
Update your router’s software
Checking for updates is one of those essential maintenance tasks that should be performed on your computers, networking equipment and gadgets.
The manufacturer of your WiFi modem will be constantly looking for ways to improve their product and fix reported bugs and issues. It’s a great idea to take advantage of all the new features and improvements that they will release with the new version of the firmware. Upgrading your firmware is really easy to do. Once you have logged in to the web console of the device, usually, you will have the option to check, review, download, and install your router’s new firmware. It depends on your router model, so check your user manual for detailed directions on how to do this.
Keep in mind, though, that router firmware updates require a restart so make sure you don’t have ongoing activities that require a network connection when you apply the update.
It is recommended that you check for router firmware updates at least once every three months.
Change the channel
Most wireless routers will by default operate on the 2.4GHz band. Even common appliances like cordless phones, Bluetooth speakers, microwave ovens and baby monitors can also use this band If there are a number of routers in your vicinity then there could be some interferences. Moving these products further away from your router, or replacing them with devices that operate on a different band, can help reduce interference and speed up your connection.
If you have a dual-band router, you’ll likely get better throughput by switching to the 5GHz band instead of using the more common 2.4GHz band. Moving from one channel to a less crowded one may help speed things up.
Separate and restrict your WiFi
This might be a bit cheeky but how about putting your kids on a slower network and putting a higher priority on the traffic from your network. This might force your kids outside to play.
This can be done easily. Just put them on a separate network with its own set of rules and settings. You can do this by setting up a completely different Wi-Fi SSID on your router and configuring the settings accordingly. Most routers have simple settings where you can set a maximum amount of bandwidth usable by an SSID.
You can also configure Quality of Service (QoS) which is a setting you can turn on to speed things up for specific tasks. QoS is a feature on routers that will let you prioritise traffic according to the type of data getting transmitted. QoS allows you to set latency-sensitive applications like Skype, IP telephony, streaming media and online gaming to have higher priority over other types of activity.
Different routers have different ways of handling QoS and most consumer-level routers have more simplified ways of enabling it by having presets available. Just check your manual for information on what each one does.
Update your router
If you’ve You’ve tried everything and you still have issues with your WiFi signal you may want to look at your networking hardware. If you’ve got an ageing router that can’t take advantage of new technologies and faster connection speeds, it could be holding your Wi-Fi back. Newer WiFi units will include a new Wi-Fi standard called “AC”. AC routers are a step up from the older “B” and “G” models and even “N” models. They have a maximum spectral bandwidth of around 8 x 160 MHz, compared to the 4 x 40 MHz standard of N routers. In other words, the increased bandwidth allows more data to be transmitted without slowing down.
Create a Mesh Network
If you’ve got a particularly large property or one with especially thick walls, Your Router will struggle to beam the signal to the desired locations. If this is the case then it might be worth investing in a mesh Wi-Fi network. Mesh Wifi Networks use multiple interconnected access points spaced apart from each other to create one large, seamless network. Your device will automatically connect to the nearest node as you move around.
For now, a mesh Wi-Fi network setup may be a more expensive system but for its reliability, performance, expandability and ease of management, it’s well worth the price.
Try a Wi-Fi booster
If you need your Wi-Fi signal to stretch just that little bit farther, it may be worth investing in a Wi-Fi repeater. Repeaters, also known as range extenders, take the signal from your existing router and re-broadcast it over a wider area. They can be picked up reasonably cheaply, but there are a few drawbacks: first, the repeater operates on a different network to your original router, so you won’t get a single, seamless network. Secondly, your connection speed will halve as it passes through each range extender.
Check your security
It’s important that you protect your Wifi from unauthorised bandwidth usage, which could slow down your network without your knowledge. If someone is able to connect to your Wifi they could start downloading data and impact your overall speeds.
Firstly, and most importantly, if your network is either Open (no security at all) or is using WEP, please change the security setting immediately! Obviously, an open network will make it easy for someone to steal your Wi-Fi, and the older WEP security is easily hacked, so avoid it at all costs.
The types of security that you should be looking to use are WPA, WPA2 with TKIP or WPA2 with AES. Preferably the latter as it is the most secure that can be used on most routers and it will let you achieve the speed possible from your router.
Another important factor that affects your WiFi signal strength is its physical location. If you keep dropping your signal in certain rooms in your home then relocating your router might solve your connectivity woes.
The physical location of your router is one of the most important things to bear in mind when it comes to wireless performance. You’ll need to ensure that your Wi-Fi router isn’t obscured by furniture or other appliances, and is as close as possible to the centre of the property. It’s also worth remembering that connection speed decays significantly the further your device is from the router. Avoid reflective surfaces like glass, mirrors and metal too since Wi-Fi signals tend to bounce off these types of materials. Walls, especially those made of concrete, can also severely degrade your Wi-Fi signal.
You can also try adjusting or repositioning your router’s antennas. It’s important to remember that your Wi-Fi antenna is omnidirectional, i.e., the signal goes in every direction equally. In other words, if you put your router along an outside wall, you’re sending half your signal outside.
Aside from choosing the optimum channel I mentioned earlier, it is also a good idea to keep your router at least a meter (3 feet) away from other 2.4GHz appliances like cordless phones, microwaves and baby monitors.
Reboot your router
Sometimes, Wi-Fi problems aren’t about the signal strength or coverage. Maybe someone is having trouble connecting, or the internet connection has slowed down. If that’s the case, rebooting your cable or DSL modem and router can help get your network back on track.
Unplug both gadgets for 15 seconds, then plug in the modem first and wait for it to come fully online. Then turn on your router. You might find that the problems you were having are gone.
Bonus Tech Tip
Another well-known DIY hack to boost a Wi-Fi router’s signal is by adding a reflector around its antennas. Crazy as it may sound, you can use an empty beer can or a sheet of aluminium foil to extend your Wi-Fi coverage a little bit farther than usual.