There’s a good chance that you’re reading this article over a wifi connection. It’s quite likely that from time to time, your wifi network performance drops below what you feel is acceptable. Here are some very simple steps you can take to improve wifi performance..
1: Check to see if your internet service provider is causing the problem.
A simple way of determining whether your router or your actual internet provider is the problem, is by running a speed test under two conditions: over the wifi, and then with your computer plugged directly into the router with an ethernet cord. If both tests are similarly slow, talking to your ISP or upgrading your plan might help. If the wifi speed test is much slower, then the router in your home or office is likely the problem.
2: Try changing channels.
You can try manually adjusting the broadcast channel to find one with fewer wireless routers competing for space. If your router is relatively new and automatically chooses which channel to broadcast from, then you won’t get too much use out of pinning your wireless down to a single channel, but for older routers it’s worth looking into.
3: Check who is on your network.
You never want to leave your wireless signal without at least a minimal sort of protection. There are different levels of security on every router. You’ll want to go to your router’s admin page and check the wireless security settings. Usually there will be a drop-down or click-to-select menu to allow different levels of security. WEP is the weakest form, and is easily broken; WPA is much more secure; and while WPA2 is the most secure, it can sometimes be incompatible with older devices on your network, so WPA is probably the best bet if you’re not sure what you want.
4: Put your router near the center of your home or office.
A router sends out signals in all directions, so putting it in a corner of your home or business — or near an outside wall or window — means that a significant amount of its signal is wasted. You might only have a network connection in one spot, but long network cables can be pretty cheap, and moving your router can dramatically improve performance.
5: Place your router up off the ground.
There are two reasons why it’s not a ideal to have your router directly on the floor:
A) Most routers are designed to broadcast signals slightly downward as they travel from its antenna.
B) Routers can’t easily penetrate some solid materials — metal, concrete, and cement — which may be present in your floors.
6: Try to put your router in a room where you often use the internet.
Wherever you (or your Service Provider) initially placed your router, the signal will be strongest in the room it’s in. If possible, put it in a spot that’s relatively near the center of your home or office and the room in which you most frequently use wifi-connected devices.
7: Keep your router out in the open.
Because the router’s signal can be absorbed by many materials, you want to have it out in the open as much as possible. Don’t hide it away in a closet, or stick it in between a big piece of furniture and a wall. Radio waves travel best through open air, so sight lines are a good clue here. If you can see the router from many different angles, it’s likely that you’re using it efficiently.
8: Keep the router away from other electronics
All sorts of electronic devices can interfere with your router’s signal. Televisions, microwaves cordless phones — anything that generates an electromagnetic signal or has a motor. This is why sandwiching it between media and home entertainment components is not a good idea. Large metal objects (like mirrors or filing cabinets) and water (a fish tank or water cooler, for example) can also block the signal, and should be avoided.
9: If your router has dual antennas, position one antenna vertically and the other horizontally.
Because the router’s signal spreads out in the direction perpendicular to that of the antennas, conventional wisdom would hold that vertically-oriented antennas will broadcast the signal horizontally, covering more of your house. This is true, but it’s also the case that having your device’s antenna aligned in the same direction as the router’s can maximize reception. Most laptops have horizontally-aligned antennas inside, but a phone or tablet’s might be positioned in a different way depending on how you’re holding it. Putting one router antenna in a vertical position, and the other in a horizontal, can cover all your bases, while still spreading the signal as broadly in your house as possible.
10: Upgrade your router hardware.
If you’re still experiencing network problems that weren’t solved by any of these free fixes, upgrading to a new router can make a huge difference, as the technology used to broadcast signals has changed a lot over the years. You might also try upgrading your current router with a more powerful antenna, though only some routers will let you do this. A single-directional antenna should double the strength of your signal, but only in one direction. This is great if you must place your router by a wall, and you don’t want to waste resources transmitting half of the wireless signal through the wall or window. Finally, to extend your router’s range, you can buy a repeater — a device that picks up your current network and broadcasts it again. It won’t increase your actual available bandwidth but it will spread your network more widely.
If none of these ideas answer your network blues, you can also contact me for an on-site survey.