Wi-Fi is one of the most important developments in the evolution of the internet—no one wants to be chained to a desktop—but it’s also one of the most frustrating. If you’re plagued by slow speeds, bad reception, and other Wi-Fi issues, here are 10 ways you can power up the Wi-Fi in your home.
10. Use the Latest Wi-Fi Technologies
One of the best ways to make sure your network is as fast and reliable as possible is to use up-to-date hardware. We’ve gone through the basics of router hardware before, so check out the first lesson of our networking Night School for the full lowdown. The main thing you need to know: Wireless A, B, G, and N are older wireless standards, with wireless AC being the most current offering.
If you’re streaming more and more HD video to devices like Chromecasts or smartphones, having a wireless AC connection will alleviate video stuttering or buffering thanks to its ability to move more data at a faster rate than the older N standard. Its successor, AX, isn’t due out until 2019, so you won’t have to worry about updating your wireless tech for a while if you’re already caught up. Note that you’ll need both a wireless AC router and a device, networking card, or USB dongle with wireless AC support in your computer if you want the full speed boost. With more smart devices like light bulbs and switches scattered throughout the house, a strong Wi-Fi signal that can propagate throughout your home is essential. But if you’ve only got one crappy router, and don’t feel like learning how to convert your second one into a repeater, consider purchasing a wireless mesh network system.
Companies like Luma, Eero, and even Google have released mesh network routers, smaller routers you place throughout your home to blanket it in WiFi. They usually operate with one functioning as the base station while the others are plugged in at various points throughout the home. They all feature an easy setup process through a smartphone application that let you monitor nearly everything going on inside your network, including sites visited and devices connected to your setup.
9. Find the Perfect Spot for Your Router
Routers may be ugly, but that doesn’t mean you should hide them behind the TV cabinet. If you want the best signal, you’ll need it out in the open, free of any walls and obstructions. If your router’s optimal location is a space without a table or flat surface, check to see if you can wall mount it either using its pre-installed mounting holes or a third-party mounting bracket. Point the antennas perpendicularly, and elevate the router if you can (one reader found that his attic was the perfect spot). Lastly, make sure it’s in the center of your house, so you have the best coverage possible throughout your home.
8. Find the Right Wireless Channel
If you have neighbors, their routers may be interfering with yours and causing the signal to degrade. Wireless routers can operate on a number of different channels, and you want yours on a channel with as little interference as possible. Use a tool like Network Analyzer Lite or Wi-Fi Analyzer to find the perfect channel in your house.
7. Get Rid of Interference from Other Appliances
Other routers aren’t the only thing that can cause interference. Cordless phones, microwaves, and other appliances can muck with your signal as well. Buying a dual band router can help with this, but you can also buy cordless phones on other bands too. If you don’t want to buy new hardware, you can always try moving your router further away from interfering appliances, too.
6. Thwart Wi-Fi Thieves with Better Security
There’s more than one way to protect your Wi-Fi connection from prying neighbors or malicious attackers. A combination of simple trickery and the proper password protection will keep most of the rabble out.
If they can’t see your Wi-Fi network, they probably can’t connect to it. You can keep prying eyes away from your router by hiding its SSID (the name of the Wi-Fi network) and forcing everyone who wants in to type it manually. You can toggle the SSID broadcast option in the firmware settings of your router. While your SSID is hidden, it won’t show up if you’re setting up new devices or scanning for a connection on your smartphone; you’ll have to enter it yourself.
In terms of password protection, your router’s default administrator username and password should be changed immediately, and stored wherever you keep the rest of your passwords. In addition, you should enable WPA2 password protection on your Wi-Fi network. It’s encrypted, making it more secure than the older WPA or WEP security protocols.
Tomorrow, we’ll post Part II of five more tips for how to improve your Wi-Fi performance at home. If you need assistance from us, you can always get in touch, and we’ll be sure to provide a proper analysis for all the right moves to make your Wi-Fi fly.