5 ways to improve your WiFi
Wireless networks are amazing. It’s easy to take them for granted, but when I think back to the days of screaming modems and being tethered to one spot it really makes me appreciate how far technology has come. Having said that, it can still be pretty frustrating when it doesn’t work seamlessly!
Here are 5 tips for improving your WiFi coverage:
1 – Stay up to date…
You can’t expect amazing speeds and coverage if you’re running an old router. Wireless standards continue to change and improve, and the latest standard, 802.11ac, offers better range and speed. Be aware that you’ll need an 802.11ac wireless card in your device to make the most of it, though!
Don’t forget about software updates, too. If you’re using a router from your Internet Service Provider you shouldn’t have to worry about this, but if you’ve bought your own router, it’s worth keeping an eye on the manufacturer’s website as new firmware may be released which may help with reliability and speed.
2 – Experiment with different positions…
Ideally you want your router somewhere central in your house – depending upon where your telephone socket is, this may be hard to achieve. Experiment with your router at different levels, higher is usually better.
3 – Make some shapes…
If your router has external aerials, try adjusting them so that they are perpendicular to one-another (one horizontal and the other vertical), this will help to improve your coverage.
4 – Be choosy with your channels…
Here in the UK there are 13 wireless channels available on the 2.4GHz band (802.11b/g/n), and 8 on 5.0GHz (802.11a/n/ac).
2.4GHz, which is the most commonly used frequency, has channels that rather unhelpfully overlap (as you can see in the diagram below), and this causes interference and degradation in performance and signal range. While most wireless routers are configured to automatically switch to the least congested channel, in my experience they don’t do a particularly good job of this.
In the diagram above you can see that the only channels that don’t overlap are 1, 6 and 11 – ideally you want to use one of these channels and pick the least congested of the three.
So… how do you find out what the least congested channel is? There is software available that lets you see what other channels are being used nearby – WifiInfoView is great for a PC, WiFi Analyzer is great for an Android phone or tablet (see screenshot below), and if you’ve got a Mac, OS-X has this feature built-in – have a look here for more details.
All of these software packages will scan for nearby WiFi signals and show you what channel they are using and how strong the signal is – armed with this information you can change the channel your router is using and enjoy better WiFi!
5 – Avoid additional aggravation…
Lots of other devices either use or cause interference in the 2.4GHz frequency range – try to keep cordless phones, microwaves and even CCTV cameras away from your router.
… and if you’re still having problems:
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