If you live in a crowded place, you might have noticed times when your WiFi suddenly slows down or drops off out of nowhere. These performance issues often have to do with too many people accessing the same WiFi channels in your area. To optimize your WiFi signal, it’s best to find and use a WiFi channel that no one else is using. Here’s how to change the channel on your router to speed up your WiFi signal.
What is a WiFi Channel?
Most WiFi routers these days broadcast data using the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands. Each of these bands is divided up into channels that are used to send and receive data over your WiFi network.
You can think of the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands like two highways, and the WiFi channels are like lanes on those highways. If you wanted to pick the fastest lanes on either highway, you would want to choose the ones that have the least traffic.
If you’re using the 2.4 GHz band, channels 1, 6, and 11 are usually the best choices because they don’t overlap with each other.
On the other hand, if you’re using the 5 GHz band, there are 24 non-overlapping channels you can choose from.
To find out more about the difference between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, and which one you should use, check out our article here.
Many routers use the same channel by default. So, if you don’t change your WiFi channel, your router will probably use the same channels as all your neighbors, which could slow down your WiFi signal. Here’s how you can change your WiFi channel on a router.
How to Change Your WiFi Channel
To change your WiFi channel, log into your router using any web browser. Then open the Wireless Settings and find the Channels drop-down menu. Select a channel and click Save.
- Open a web browser and type your router’s IP address into the address bar. If you don’t know what your router’s IP address is, check out our step-by-step guide on how to find your router’s IP address on a Windows 10 PC or Mac.
- Then hit Enter on your keyboard. Your browser might display a warning screen at this point. To continue, click Advanced > Proceed.
- Next, enter your username and password. If you don’t your login credentials, check out our step-by-step guide on how to find your router’s username and password here.
- Then open Wireless Settings. The exact name and location of this option will depend on your router. In most cases, you will have to select Advanced Settings first.
- Next, click the Channels drop-down menu and change your WiFi channel.
- Finally, make sure to hit Save or Apply.
Once you know how to change your WiFi channel, you should find out which WiFi channel is the least crowded. Here’s how to use the NetSpot app to find the best WiFi channel:
How to Find the Best WiFi Channel
To find the best WiFi channel in your area, download the NetSpot app for Windows 10 or Mac. Then install the app and launch it. Next, click Details and select your frequency band. Then you will be able to see which channels are the most crowded.
- Go to NetSpot’s official website. You can find this at netspotapp.com.
- Then click Get NetSpot. You can find this in the top-right corner of the page.
- Next, scroll down and click on Download now. This will download the free version of the application.
- Then open the downloaded file to install NetSpot. If you can’t find the downloaded the app, check your Downloads folder.
- Next, launch NetSpot and click Continue. This will let you use the free version of the app.
- Then select your WiFi network. You can see the WiFi networks in your area by name under the SSID (service set identifier) column. To make things easy, you can click SSID at the top of the column to sort by name. To select your network, click the name and make sure the box to the left is checked. You can also see which channel your WiFi network is currently using under the Channel column.
- Next, click Details. You can find this in the bottom-left corner of the window. This will open a new window.
- Then select your frequency band. You can find tabs for the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands in the top-right corner of the window. If you selected your network in the previous window, you should see it highlighted now.
- The best channels will be the ones with the least traffic. Each network in your area will show up as a different bar. You can tell which channel each network is using by looking at the numbers in the center of each bar.
In the image above, the highlighted network is using channel 36 on the 5 GHz band. That channel is fairly crowded, so it might be a good idea to change the channel to the other end of the band’s spectrum.
Once you change your network to a less crowded WiFi channel, you should notice that your bar gets taller, meaning your network speed has increased.
If your WiFi signal is still weak, check out our guide on how to boost your WiFi signal here.