Wi-Fi sits at the centre of many different activities in the home. From checking email to watching television, some might say that we are over-reliant on the benefits that a good connection brings. When everything is working properly, we are happy to get on as normal, but the moment things slow down, or even stop altogether, it is easy to panic. If you have found that your Wi-Fi does not work as well as it usually does across any devices, then the following 10 tips have been brought together with you in mind.
1. Update your Router
As with anything involving computers, you may have the best hardware possible, but it is practically worthless without the software to go along with it. Routers rely on firmware for performance, and this package is regularly updated to introduce features, security and often more speed. If something changes, then there is every chance that your existing settings will not work as well as before, and this is all the incentive you should need to keep it up to date. Most routers will update automatically, or at least have a one-click update process in the admin interface. Failing that, you will need to go to the manufacturer’s website to download the latest firmware.
2. Consider Moving Your Router
You may not have given much thought to positioning when your router was installed, and it may not be placed optimally for a strong, even signal throughout the home. Moving it is not always a viable option, as it needs to connect to the cabling that enters your home. Nevertheless, if you do have such an option, try moving the router somewhere that it will be closer to your devices and away from any major obstacles.
3. Use the Admin Interface to Check Frequencies
Most modern routers use dual-band frequencies, which cover both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrums. The 5GHz spectrum is faster, newer and less likely to falter in the face of interference. There’s every chance that not all your devices will support the 5GHz connection but ensure that both bands are available as most devices that can do will choose the best band automatically.
4. Experiment with Channels
Interference is among the biggest causes of slow Wi-Fi, but there is something to be done. Wi-Fi operates over ‘channels’, and each can be affected by other networks, microwaves, phones and just about anything that relies on over the air communications. The biggest impact stems from when another home in the area uses the same channel, causing congestion. Most routers will select the appropriate channel automatically, but if you are not having any luck, it is worth using either the command prompt or dedicated software to scan channels for interference. From there, you can either choose a new channel and check performance or set the software to scan for the best options automatically.
5. Investigate Quality Control
While not all router software is equal, most new options come with setting to control the bandwidth assigned to various activities. The priority levels are down to you – you may require a solid connection for gaming and do not mind slow updates on your Facebook speed. At a basic level, different activities can have limits assigned. On more advanced routers, users can specify limits for broad activities and specific software, even potentially changing them throughout the day.
6. Performance and Age go Hand in Hand
If your Wi-Fi is slow and you’re still using the same router as 10 years ago, the chances are that the hardware is the source of your issues. Aside from standard degradation, it may not support the latest standards, artificially limiting the speeds sent to connected devices. An upgrade is often worth it even if the current model still ‘works. Also consider the devices that you attach to your Wi-Fi network – you probably refresh your phone regularly, but televisions and other smart devices can become obsolete from a networking perspective.
7. Increase the Power of your Existing Router
If you are fond of your current router in spite of its age, or cannot currently upgrade for whatever reason, it is worth modifying the current hardware for a potential boost. If your current model only supports an internal antenna, it can be worth adding an external alternative to make the signal stronger. Some models come with external options for the user to attach for themselves. If you have ignored that option in the past, now may be the time to get on and do it.
8. Explore Range Extenders
If your slow speeds come into play when further away from your router, there is every chance that the signal cannot reach you at full power. This is where extenders come into play, as they take a stronger signal and repackage it before broadcasting it as well as possible. Good ones will operate on the same network for a seamless connection, and it is a good idea to choose one that is from the same manufacturer as the router itself to avoid any potential connectivity issues.
9. Use a Mesh System in Larger Houses
Mesh networking is a relatively new consideration for home networking aficionados, and it can be an excellent choice for those that experience a weak signal when relatively far from the router or even complete Wi-Fi blackspots. These systems replace the original router altogether and then operate on a node-based system which can reach just about anywhere. On top of all that, mesh systems are often controlled from a smartphone rather than a web interface for quick updates and changes on the fly.
10. Check Your Connection
Many people rely on Wi-Fi so heavily that they do not have anything wired into their router. There is always a chance that your slow speeds are not down to the Wi-Fi at all, and your broadband is not as fast as advertised. In these cases, bring it up with your supplier.