11 simple ways to boost your WiFi signal

Many of us possess a number of devices today including desktops, laptops, mobile phones and tablets, and WiFi is the most convenient medium that lets you keep these devices connected to the Internet. Using Wi-Fi, you can connect multiple devices to the same internet connection wirelessly. Depending on your router’s wireless standard and the number of usage points, WiFi provides a greater reliability and speed. However, sometimes, we don’t experience the same performance as expected. It’s quite common to face low-performance issues sometimes due to weak WiFi signal or during peak usage times.

There could be several reasons leading to connectivity issues such as short range, dropping signals, slowed down network and more. Whatever be the reason, troubleshooting slow speed issues is always very frustrating. Well, if you are also affected by the bad reception, slow speeds, and other WiFi issues, the following 10 ways will help you boost up the WiFi in your home.

Find the right place for your router

It’s important to choose the right place for your WiFi if you want to have maximum coverage. Hiding your routers in a closet or in a cabinet just because it is unsightly is not going to work if you expect high performance. Thick walls and doors can absorb and degrade signal strength, which is definitely not desirable.

If you want to get the most out of your WiFi connection, find a central location in your home or office and position your router on a flat surface like a table or bookshelf. Some routers are designed to disperse WiFi signals slightly downward. Therefore, it’s recommended to keep it somewhere higher off the ground and out in open for evenly distributed WiFi signals throughout your home.

Keep your router away from other appliances and metal objects

The home appliances such as microwave ovens, cordless phones, and even other routers may interfere with your WiFi signal. To avoid this, place your router away from such appliances and try setting it to a different wireless channel and frequency. You can use online tools such as AirGrab WiFi Radar and Acrylic WiFi for Mac and Windows respectively to find the right wireless channel with the least amount of interference. Some routers also provide an automatic option to find the best optimum channel for your location.

You can also buy a dual band router to avoid interference problem, moving your router further away from such appliances is definitely a cheaper and convenient option.

Reboot on a schedule

Majority of technical problems can be solved by simply resetting or rebooting your router on a regular basis. You can also solve the problem easily by setting it to reboot automatically once a day or so at an off-peak time.

Update your firmware

The easiest way to improve your WiFi performance is by keeping your device’s firmware and drivers up-to-date. Although the process of running firmware updates is monotonous and time-consuming, it ensures that your router's software is running to the optimum level. Keep checking the device manufacturer's website regularly for latest updates to keep your router running at its best.

Adjust your router's antennas

Most WiFi routers come with two adjustable antennas on top. If your router’s antennas are placed parallel, switch them to the perpendicular position. WiFi performs well when signals are parallel to the internal antenna of the device, which is vertical in desktop computers and horizontal in laptops. Internal antennas vary in mobile devices, depending on whether you are holding them in portrait or landscape mode. Keeping a router’s antennas perpendicular to each other ensures a strong connection between your home network and your WiFi devices.

DIY trick using old beer cans

If your router is still not performing as per your expectations, try extending its range with simple DIY tricks. The aluminum in beer cans reflects and extends the range of your WiFi signal farther than the router itself. Here is how it works:

  1. Empty the beer can and rinse it thoroughly with water.
  2. Then, pull off the pop top and slice off the bottom of the can using a utility knife or box cutter.
  3. Repeat the process for the top of the can too, but don’t cut it completely - leave about 1 or so inches of space at the top.
  4. Then, cut down the middle of the can lengthwise on the opposite side of the space and pull back both sides carefully.
  5. The flaps should be pulled to take the shape of a curve or parabola. It should resemble like a radar dish. Then, turn the can upside down to stand it up.
  6. Then, slide the mouth of the beer can through one of the router's antennas. You can use duct tape to keep it in place.
  7. Repeat the process for other antenna(s).

Confusing instructions? Check out this video explainer

Although it will not appear very good, you will observe noticeable improvement in your signal strength. You can also use domestic tinfoil to get the same effect if you don’t want to use a beer can.

Password-protect your WiFi for better security

Someone might be stealing your WiFi, lowering its speed. The best way to resolve this problem is having a strong password in place. Using a WPA2 password is very important if you don’t want unauthorized people to access your network. Make sure that your password is a hard-to-figure-out combination of numbers, letters, and symbols.

Control heavy bandwidth usage

If there are too many people in your home network that use heavy bandwidth at the same time, like watching Netflix, playing online games, and downloading torrent files and music from iTunes, they may be slowing down the internet for others as well. Manage and control the usage of such applications or upgrade your plan to high speed Internet.

You can also use Quality of Service or QoS to prioritize certain applications over others so that the most important applications get the bandwidth higher than the others. For example, you can give more priority to the video chat than video games, so that your important online business conferences don’t get hampered by least important games.

Buy a WiFi Extender

The majority of routers have a range of about 150 feet. So if your house is quite big, WiFi devices in rooms far away from your router might have a difficult time connecting to your home network. Well, you can fix this problem easily by buying a WiFi extender. You can plug the extender into any wall outlet, and boost signal range and strength to the farthest rooms of your house.

Although those connecting to the extender will observe a substantial decrease in internet speed, but of course you can’t get anything and everything at the same time. If you are not willing to spend much on a new repeater, you can also turn an old router into a WiFi extender with a little bit of hacking and programming. But, buying a new extender is rather a cheaper and convenient option than going through complex steps.

Use the Latest WiFi Technologies

Of course, one of the best and simplest ways to ensure high performance and reliability of your network is using up-to-date hardware. There are several wireless standards, namely Wireless A, B, and G (some of the old standards), Wireless N (the most common wireless standard of today) and Wireless AC (the newer wireless standard). The newer standards including Wireless N and Wireless AC offer you the fastest speed and performance.

However, if you want the full speed boost, you require both a wireless N router and a wireless N card in your computer.

The Take Away

Speed and range issues with your WiFi router can leave you frustrated if you don’t know how to tackle it. Fortunately, there is a solution to every problem today. The above-mentioned were just a few ways by which you can extend your WiFi signal and enjoy lightning fast speed. There are several other ways too that require a bit of tweaking to your wireless network. While some involve buying expensive components, others require programming and hacking skills. Nevertheless, by using these tips and hacks, you will see a great boost in the reliability, performance, range and speed of your WiFi network.

There are numerous apps out there too that let you map the strength of your WiFi signal. Once you understand what you are dealing with, you can use one or more of the above-mentioned tips to fix the problem.

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