No one ever seems to say, “You know, my WiFi connection is awesome.” So, in our never-ending quest to get the fastest WiFi connection we can squeeze from our wireless router, we present these options to help you make the most of the technology you already own… and some options at the end in case all hope is lost with your current router.
Keep Your Router Accessible
WiFi signals travel in waves just like those in radios and your cell phone. Although we know we should keep our router off the ground and elevated, I recommend playing hide-and-go-seek with the router. Sound ridiculous? Stay with me. To maximize its capabilities, pick a location in your home where you can’t seem to hide from your router. A spot where you can see the router is best, particularly in the rooms you use most frequently. When your router has this special vantage point, it’s naturally less limited and can saturate your devices in sweet WiFi coverage.
Test Your Antennas
If your router has external antennas, you can use those to your benefit too. Do some simple testing by moving the antennas around and trying your favorite apps in different rooms of your home. You may find that a directional change is all you need to get the coverage you’d hoped for. And when positioning your router, try your best to keep it away from other electronics. Every powered device releases electromagnetic frequencies that can disrupt WiFi signals. Modern devices are getting better and better at minimizing this interference, so don’t fret too much if it’s near another device – just try your best.
Use Testing Tools to Evaluate Your Connection
Next, use tools to help you make changes. There are free tools available for your computer and smartphone that can give you a real-time reading of the WiFi coverage in your home. Download a few and do different tests. You can test the signal strength, aiming for the least amount of noise and the strongest connection. You can also download tools that will test the speed of the connection. Perhaps you’ll find not every room needs to have top coverage since you don’t stream shows in that particular location, for example. So if the coverage indicators show your connection is just okay, the speeds may still be perfectly acceptable for you to connect to social networks, use chat applications and send emails. Be sure to pair these tools with the tips from this article to learn about changing channels and updating firmware.
Try an Electrical Outlet Timer
Have you noticed that rebooting your router helps it run better? It’s amazing how a power cycle can make miracles happen. If you don’t want to plug and unplug your router that frequently, an inexpensive and common electrical outlet timer can be set so it powers your router off and then back on through a schedule every day. If you’re feeling particularly nerdy about technology, a smart plug will give you the power to either set that schedule at your chosen interval or you can cut the power through your smartphone. (Remember, though, turning it back on may be a challenge since your router is off and your phone requires a WiFi connection to the smart plug to turn it back on.)
It Could Be Time to Upgrade
If you’ve tried all these options and others you’ve found online, and have committed to purchasing a new router, here are a few things to keep in mind. The 802.11ac standard is the newest and most widely supported standard at the time of this writing. Though other standards exist, this one is found in modern tablets, smartphones and laptops. Choosing an 802.11ac router, if you don’t already have one, can produce a tremendous difference in coverage at your home. Check out this article to help you choose a router based on your specific needs.
If you have a home with multiple floors, thick or dense walls, or just a very spacious interior, a WiFi system might be a good fit. WiFi systems come packaged with two or three routers that connect to one another wirelessly to give your home blanket coverage. Setup is typically quite simple, with either an app or visible indicators on the routers to show you each is close enough to the other to produce strong WiFi coverage. Additionally, these devices are expandable, so you can start with a kit that comes with two or three routers and add more later, if needed. These devices continue to prove helpful, even for those of you that may have a detached office or garage that requires a strong WiFi signal.
Here’s to great Internet coverage in your home to stream your favorite cat videos, binge-watch that show your office can’t stop talking about, or to just have a video chat with Mom and Dad – they miss you and want to see your face!
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