These days, having a slow WiFi connection can be more than frustrating. Whether you’re working from home, or you just want to watch a movie on Netflix, improving your WiFi can also improve your quality of life. Here are a few tips & tricks to help you boost your WiFi speed and range, so you can get the strongest signal anywhere in your home.
Do a WiFi Speed Test
Before you start changing your WiFi router’s settings or upgrading your hardware, you should do a quick speed test to see how fast your WiFi really is. You can easily do this on your computer or smartphone by going to HelloTech.com/Speed and clicking Go.
Once you have your speed test results, compare them to the maximum speeds advertised in your internet plan. If your download and upload speeds are significantly lower than what you are paying for, there might be something slowing down your WiFi.
You might have a faster internet connection than you think, but you’re not using it. Many WiFi routers these days use two different radio frequency bands to transmit data wirelessly. The 2.4GHz band is slower with a longer range, while the 5GHz band is much faster with a shorter range.
So, if you want to boost your WiFi signal speed, all you need to do is connect your device to the 5GHz WiFi network. For devices that are far away from your router, you should connect your device to the 2.4GHz network.
In order to find out if you have a dual-band router and what each WiFi network is called, you might have to log in to your router to access your settings. All routers are different, but you should be able to see your WiFi network names (also known as SSIDs) in the Wireless section.
Each WiFi band is also split up into different channels, and your WiFi speeds can slow down if too many people are using the same channel at once. So, you can boost your WiFi signal speed by changing your router to a less crowded WiFi channel, especially if you live in a densely-populated area.
If you are using the 2.4 GHz band, you should use channels 1, 6, or 11 because they are the only three channels that don’t overlap with each other. If you are using the 5 GHz band, you might want to choose channels 36, 40, 44, or 48, which are used for domestic purposes.
Some newer WiFi routers have a feature called Quality of Service (QoS), which allows you to prioritize traffic to certain devices or apps. This is a great way to stop a few bandwidth-hungry devices from slowing down your entire WiFi network.
For example, you can prioritize traffic to your computer to make sure that your video calls won’t drop or lag. Then, if someone else starts surfing the web or streaming a 4K movie on the same WiFi network, their devices will slow down before your computer does.
Most older routers won’t have QoS settings, while newer routers will let you set specific bandwidth caps for any devices, apps, or programs. Check your router’s manual or the manufacturer’s online documentation to see what kind of QoS settings are available on your device, and how you can access them.
Update Your Router’s Firmware
Updating your router’s firmware ensures that you’re using the latest security features on your network. It will also help repair bugs and fix connectivity issues that could be slowing down your WiFi signal.
The steps for updating your router’s firmware will depend on what kind of router you have. Some routers will update automatically, while others require you to download a file from the manufacturer’s website and then upload that file in your router’s settings page.
If there is any chance that your neighbors are stealing your WiFi, it could significantly slow down your network. Changing your WiFi password regularly will kick off any freeloaders and also prevent hackers from stealing your personal information, such as your bank details.
To change your WiFi network’s password, you’ll have to log in to your router first. However, it is important to note that once you change your WiFi password, you will then have to reconnect some of your devices to your network manually.
After you log in to your router, you can also boost your WiFi signal speeds by changing your security settings. If your router gives you the option, you will get the best protection and the fastest WiFi speeds by using WPA2 or WPA3 security with AES encryption.
According to tests, changing your security settings to WPA2 can double or triple your WiFi speeds, especially if you’ve been using WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) security. However, the new WPA3 protocol offers faster encryption, but it still doesn’t work with the majority of devices yet.
If your WiFi suddenly slows down or stops working, the quickest way to fix it is to reboot your router and modem. Rebooting your router and modem will reset your network and all your connections, which could instantly boost your WiFi signal.
You can easily reboot your router and modem by unplugging them for 60 seconds. However, this can also change the IP addresses of your connected devices, which means you might have to reconnect some of them to your WiFi network afterward.
Reposition Your Router’s Antennas
If your router has adjustable antennas, you shouldn’t position them all straight up and down. A WiFi signal emanates outward from the antennas, so you can boost your signal by pointing them perpendicular to each other.
In an interview with Mac Observer, Watt said that some MacBooks were designed to receive WiFi signals horizontally, while others receive WiFi signals vertically. Positioning your antennas perpendicularly will also help if you live in a multi-story home. This way, you can cover one floor with the horizontal signal, and the other floors will be covered by the vertical signal.
To make sure your antenna position is optimal, you can always do several WiFi speed tests and see if your speeds actually change.
Move Your Router
Since most routers send WiFi signals out in all directions, you should place yours in a central location to get the best signal throughout your home. WiFi signals also get absorbed by walls, so you should place your router in an open location near the center of your home.
You can also boost your WiFi signal by placing your router in an elevated position. However, you want to avoid placing your router near any metal objects, like your fridge. This is because WiFi signals bounce off metal surfaces instead of passing through them. You should also avoid placing your router near a fish tank because water absorbs WiFi signals.
If your router came with detachable antennas, you can boost your WiFi signal by upgrading them. You can either get omnidirectional antennas, which can send and receive signals in all directions, or you can get directional antennas to boost the range of your WiFi signal.
When shopping for a directional WiFi antenna, you want to look for a high dBi level, which indicates how far your WiFi signal will travel. You should also look for high-gain antennas, which further focus your WiFi signal and boost your network’s range.
If you are experiencing slow WiFi speeds on your computer or laptop, you might want to invest in a WiFi adapter. All you have to do is plug this device into your computer’s USB port, and it can instantly upgrade your built-in WiFi capabilities.
Using a WiFi adapter is the cheapest and easiest way to boost your WiFi signal, especially if you have an older computer. You can easily triple your WiFi speeds with a WiFi adapter, and it can instantly give your computer the ability to use both frequency bands.
If you have any WiFi “dead zones” in your home, you can use a WiFi repeater or extender to bring the internet to you. Both of these devices use your existing WiFi network to boost your WiFi signal range, but they can also cause your WiFi speeds to slow down.
A WiFi repeater connects to your existing WiFi network wirelessly and re-broadcasts that signal. However, a WiFi repeater needs to receive a strong WiFi signal, so the farther it is from your router, the weaker your signal will be.
A WiFi extender, on the other hand, connects directly to your home network through a wired connection. Then it creates a new WiFi network, which means you will have to change WiFi networks as you move around your home.
Your computer has network drivers that allow you to connect to the internet. While Windows and Mac computers both push out the latest version of your drivers with each system update, there may be times when your drivers go out of date.
To update your drivers on a Windows 10 PC, click the magnifying glass icon in the bottom-left corner of your screen. Then type Device Manager into the search bar and click Open. In the Device Manager menu, right-click on the network adapter you want to update and choose Update Driver.
To update your network drivers on a Mac, open System Preferences and click Software Update. If you see a button that says Update Now, click it. If you don’t see this option, your drivers are already up-to-date.
Change Your DNS Address
Your internet service provider assigns you a DNS (Domain Name System) address by default, which converts domain names into IP addresses. But you might be able to boost your WiFi speed by using a third-party service instead.
If your router lets you change your DNS address, some of the most popular addresses include Google’s DNS server at 126.96.36.199 or Cloudflare’s DNS server at 188.8.131.52. If requested, you can then use Google’s secondary DNS address of 184.108.40.206 or Cloudflare’s 220.127.116.11.
If your WiFi is still slow, you might want to reset your router and modem to factory conditions. To do this, press and hold the Reset button on the back of your device. However, this will erase all your custom settings, including your WiFi passwords.
Once you reset your router, you will need to use the default WiFi network name and password that came with your device. If you don’t remember this, you can check the bottom or side of your device. Then you should log in to your router to change your settings.
You should only reset your router and modem as a last resort, or if you recently upgraded your internet plan and your WiFi speeds have not increased.
Your WiFi speed and range heavily depend on your router. If you have an older router, it might not be able to support newer WiFi standards. For example, an 802.11n router can support speeds up to 600 Mbps, while an older 802.11g router can only support 54 Mbps.
The most common WiFi standard these days is 802.11ac, which supports speeds up to 3,400 Mbps (megabits per second), at least theoretically. So, if you are looking for a new router, make sure that it says 802.11ac, wireless AC, or WiFi 5 on the box to ensure you get fast WiFi speeds.
If you really want to futureproof your network, you might want to upgrade to a WiFi 6 router. This can increase your speed and lower latency, all while more devices are connected at the same time. This next-gen WiFi technology is also called 802.11ax or wireless AX.
A mesh WiFi system comes with a router and at least one access point(also known as a “node”). Basically, each of these nodes functions just like additional routers. So, you can place these nodes in any room where you want to boost your WiFi signal range.
Most mesh WiFi systems let you buy as many nodes as you want, so you can blanket your entire home with a strong, reliable WiFi connection. Each of these nodes will have the same network name and password, so you won’t have to switch networks as you move around the home.
Setting up a mesh system might be more expensive and complicated than a traditional router, but it also provides a long-term solution to your slow WiFi woes.
If all else fails, you might need to call your ISP and ask them to upgrade your internet plan. While this can be a costly alternative to the steps listed above, you might have to upgrade your plan every few years in order to keep up with the pace of technology.
Remember that you will never get the speeds that your internet service provider advertises for a plan under normal conditions. According to the FCC, most users only get internet speeds that are around 80% of the maximum speeds advertised by an internet service provider.
Contact a Professional Technician
If you’re still having problems with your WiFi, you can always contact a professional technician at HelloTech to fix it for you. We have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and we offer 24/7 support for any of your internet needs. Just visit our WiFi & Networking page, and a real person will be there to help you solve your issues.
This article was updated with more accurate information.
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