For remote students and workers, losing your internet connection is the new snow day. Until companies start giving paid days off for your inability to get online, however, it’s essential your Wi-Fi works as hard as you do.
If you’re waiting minutes for the next page to load or suffering through endless buffers, it’s time to take charge. Here’s how to boost a Wi-Fi signal quickly and easily.
1. Restart Your Router
No one likes to hear it, but the old “did you try unplugging it and plugging it back in?” question is relevant here. Sometimes devices just need to reboot to apply updates and shut down software that isn’t running properly.
How to Fix Slow Wi-Fi By Restarting Your Router
First, if your router has a power button, use that to shut down your router. If there is no button, unplug the power cord. Leave the device unplugged or turned off for a few minutes.
Then, turn the device back on by pressing the power button again or plugging it back in. It will take a few minutes for the router to restart. You can monitor the progress by watching a few lights begin to light back up and blink. The router will be attempting to reconnect to the external IP address from your service provider.
After a few minutes, the lights should all be back to normal and you can reconnect your devices to the Wi-Fi.
2. Perform a Speed Test
Performing a speed test can help determine if your internet service is the problem rather than your equipment.
Performing a speed test with Ethernet cables will check the internet speed before it is ever converted to a wireless signal. If the test determines that your internet service is the root of the problem, you should follow up with your internet service provider.
Talk to your provider about your issues and see if they’re aware of any current problems that could be causing a lack of service. They might offer you an upgrade in your internet plan.
How to Perform a Speed Test
There are several websites you can use that will help you perform a speed test. You can use sites like Speedcheck, Speedtest, Speakeasy, and even the Google speed test. Providers also offer their own internet speed tests, including Xfinity, AT&T, and Spectrum.
Online speed tests will perform a speed test while you are connected to your Wi-Fi, but to test your internet service provider you should connect your device directly using an Ethernet cable. Wi-Fi connections can be limited by many factors, so first we want to test your fastest possible speed.
First, get an Ethernet cable and connect it to the Ethernet port in your wall. Connect the other end of the cable to your device. If your laptop doesn’t have an Ethernet port, you can use the USB Ethernet adapter to connect the cable to your laptop.
Then, run the test on your laptop using a speed test website and wait for the results. If your speed comes up as 5Mbps or lower, there is a serious issue with your provider. The average speed is 20 Mbps, and you should compare the speed in your results to the speed indicated by your plan.
3. Update Your Router Firmware
If your internet service provider isn’t the problem, it’s time to start troubleshooting your equipment. Another cause for slow internet could be your router.
Your router might be outdated and need firmware updates. Firmware updates are important because your router protects your internet connection from hackers. Without the necessary updates, your connection becomes vulnerable.
How to Fix Slow Wi-Fi With a Firmware Update
To find your router’s update online,
First, make sure you are connected to the Wi-Fi whose router is causing issues. Type the router’s IP address into your browser and enter your account information.
Then, once you are signed in, you can find your firmware information and download the latest update. Follow the prompts to upload the new update onto your router.
Finally, you’ll need to reboot your router once the update is complete.
4. Select a Good Place for Your Router
If your router’s firmware is up to date, your internet speed might be affected by the location of the router. Try moving your router to a place that won’t affect the Wi-Fi signal.
How to Improve Wi-Fi By Changing Router Location
Most importantly, avoid placing routers close to any metal or thick concrete. Metal and concrete are the biggest culprits of disrupting signals. Placing your router next to metal or cement can interfere with the signal.
Also, some appliances also emit electromagnetic waves that could interfere with your Wi-Fi signal, so avoid placing your router next to them. Wires, lightbulbs, circuit breakers, and other electronics can also interfere.
Instead, try placing your Wi-Fi router roughly in the center of your home, but not on the floor. Find a place where the signal can be evenly distributed throughout the home and won’t be completely blocked by other objects.
5. Switch to 5GHz
If your internet is still too slow, it’s time to learn about different frequencies. You could have a 2.4GHz or 5GHz Wi-Fi signal. 5GHz frequencies have been around for decades, but 2.4GHz frequencies are much more popular.
2.4GHz radio bands get very crowded because it is the default for most devices, including remote controls, Bluetooth devices, and microwave ovens. In turn, your computer is competing with all the other devices and appliances in your house for a signal.
Switching to the 5GHz frequency can bring your signal into a much more open space and speed up your connection.
How to Increase Wi-Fi Speed with 5 GHz
First sign onto your internet service provider’s website and go to your network settings. Check to see if your router’s frequency settings are set to manual or automatic. If your router is set to automatic, it means it is using whatever frequency channel is offering the fastest Wi-Fi.
After, you can switch your settings to manual to control which frequency your router is using. If your router settings are set to manual, you can change the frequency you’re on to a 5GHz channel.
When you’re satisfied with your choice, you can select “Apply Changes.”
6. Choose a New Wi-Fi Channel
There are frequency bands, 2.4 and 5 GHz, and both of them have their own channels. If you’re using the 2.4 GHz band, you can choose from 14 different channels. If you’re using the 5 GHz band, you can choose from 23 different channels.
Choosing channels that are spaced apart will allow devices to operate at full capacity without interfering with each other. The channels recommended for this technique are 1, 6, 11. Channel 14 is technically also far enough apart, but it is not available for most equipment.
How to Speed Up Wi-Fi by Choosing a New Channel
First, go to your provider’s website, you’ll be able to log in and look at your network settings. Within these settings, you can see if your router is automatically choosing a frequency and channel or is manually set. In the same settings that you can edit your frequency band, you’ll be able to choose a channel.
Then, set your router to manual and then choose the frequency band and channel you want. In these settings, you’ll also be able to see how many devices are using each channel. Make sure the channel you choose is not overloaded with other devices.
We recommend keeping devices separated across channels, toggle among 1, 6, and 11 to find one that works best for you.
7. Set a Strong Password for Your Network
Your router does a good job of protecting your internet connection from malicious actors, but it’s only as strong as the password you provide. Just like you protect your bank account login or ATM codes, you should protect your Wi-Fi connection.
But what does it mean to provide a strong password?
First of all, you shouldn’t be using the most common and easy to guess passwords ever created. These passwords include phrases like “password” and “1234.”
You also shouldn’t use personal information that’s easy to get access to. Don’t use your name, address, pet’s name, or phone number. It might take a few tries, but anyone can easily gain access to your internet with a lucky guess.
A strong password includes a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters. It also includes special characters and numbers. These rules usually create a password that’s hard to remember, so you can write it down. Keep that information in a safe place, though, or it’s pointless to even have a password at all.
WPA2 is an encryption method used for most Wi-Fi networks to help protect information that is transmitted through your connection. In the past, there have been some major vulnerabilities to this encryption method that has allowed attackers to gain access to stored information on your devices.
Along with a strong password, make sure you always update your router with the newest patches for vulnerabilities to keep your identity safe.
8. Replace Your Antenna
Replacing a router antenna only works for routers that allow you to unscrew the original antennas. If you cannot remove the original antenna, you can choose to use a booster instead. You can find information about boosters below in the “Buy a Wi-Fi Booster” section.
How to Extend Wi-Fi Range Using New Antenna
You can add an external antenna that is stronger than the original router antenna. There are two types of antennas: omnidirectional and directional. Omnidirectional antennas send the signals in all directions, while the directional antennas help send signals in a targeted direction.
To install an antenna, unscrew the original one and replace it with the new antenna. If you’re using an external antenna, you’ll have to connect the antenna to the router with a cable.
Make sure the cable is as short as possible, as longer cables weaken the signal.
If you have multiple antennas, angle one antenna up and one to the side. This allows the signal to go in all directions and your devices to pick up a signal no matter where you are.
9. Set Up a Mesh Wi-Fi System
A mesh Wi-Fi system consists of one main router and modem and several satellite modules. The satellite modules are part of the same network with the same password, but just transmit the router’s connection to different areas. This is great for houses where the Wi-Fi is disrupted often by walls and appliances.
You can easily buy mesh systems and set them up with your router. Calculate the area and distance of where you want your internet to go and check how many modules you’ll need to cover the area.
Put your router in a central location and determine the best spots for the modules that surround the router.
Download the mesh system’s app to your phone and connect the nodes one by one to the router using an Ethernet cable. You’ll be instructed to type in a serial number and location for each node to identify it.
Set up the nodes in the chosen areas and test your connection.
10. Boost Wi-Fi Signal With a Booster
Wi-Fi boosters are much like mesh systems because they boost your Wi-Fi signal. These devices are often also called Wi-Fi extenders or repeaters.
You can look into boosters from TP-Link, Netgear, or Linksys. Compare them based on whether they will block the outlets you need if you can afford them, and if they match the Wi-Fi standards that your router uses.
11. Purchase a New Router
If all else fails, you might need to resort to buying a new router. Before you do anything else, make sure you understand which router types are compatible with your internet service provider. You can find lists of compatible routers online for your provider.
When choosing a router, consider affordability, support for the speed you pay for on your plan, and a newer wireless protocol. Wireless protocols are better if they are 11ax, 11ac, or 11n.
You can find great routers made by TP-Link, Asus, Linksys, and Netgear.
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The world doesn’t stop and wait for your internet and devices to catch up. Be prepared for everything with reliable tools for your internet and devices. You won’t be searching “how to boost a wifi signal” anymore.
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