How to Boost Your Home’s Wi-Fi Connection – Our Top 16 Tips
Can you live without Wi-Fi? You’re probably using Wi-Fi to read this article right now. Your home can have several devices using Wi-Fi all at once, from smart TVs and computers to cell phones and smart thermostats. Even the Flo by Moen uses Wi-Fi signals to stay connected to the Flo mobile app.
Sometimes our wireless connections don’t perform as well as we’d like them to. Maybe it’s the range that’s bugging us — our devices work great in the living room but slow to a crawl in the upstairs bedroom. Sometimes, it seems like we never get the connection speeds our internet providers promise us (and still charge us for). Either way, you want to get the most out of your internet connection.
In this article, we’ll cover 17 of our best tips to help you boost your home’s Wi-Fi connection. We’ll start with some of the more basic fixes you should try first. After that, we’ll get into some more advanced tips to really help you get your Wi-Fi going. By the end, you should be well-equipped to get better range and even higher speeds.
1. Reset your router
The most obvious solution is usually the best thing to try first. If you’ve recently experienced an unusually slow connection, try resetting your device. Just unplug your router for about a minute and plug it back in. Give the router a few minutes to boot back up, and check to see if your connection is any better. Sometimes it works. Other times, you have to get a little more involved to improve your Wi-Fi situation.
2. Do a wireless head count
Your home internet connection is only designed to handle so much traffic. The more devices you have that are connected to the internet, the more your bandwidth needs to be split up. If you have a large household or just a lot of devices running at once, that could be the culprit. You’ll either have to turn off or disconnect some devices or have your internet provider upgrade your bandwidth.
3. Close background apps
On both your computers and phones, background apps could be running and taking up valuable bandwidth. Go ahead and swipe through any unused apps on your phone. Then open up the task manager on your computer to see if any background programs are using network bandwidth. Close any programs you don’t think are necessary.
4. Find the “central point” in your home
Your wireless router broadcasts its signal in every direction. So you should think of your router as being the central point in a sphere. Finding a central location in your home will help you make the most of your Wi-Fi signal. If your internet provider installed your router in a bad spot and you have a small ethernet cable, you can always buy an ethernet extension cable.
Bonus tip: Keep your router out in the open. Many people keep their routers in cabinets or in entertainment centers. Those wooden cabinet doors will cut down your signal strength significantly.
5. Keep it off the floor
Having your router on the floor is basically wasting half its Wi-Fi signal right off the bat. Not only that, but many routers are designed to broadcast their signals at a slightly downward angle, making the router-on-the-floor approach even less desirable. Many internet providers will leave the router on the floor after they set up your internet, so be sure to find a nice elevated place for it.
6. Watch out for walls and other obstructions
Wi-Fi signals tend to degrade as they pass through different objects. Materials like stone, brick and concrete are some of the biggest Wi-Fi killers out there. Drywall doesn’t affect Wi-Fi signals nearly as much. Mirrors, aluminum and other metals can deflect signals, leading to uneven distributions of signal strength. So be mindful of your building material when you’re deciding where to put your router.
7. Adjust your router’s antennas
If your router has a pair of adjustable antennas, you shouldn’t have them both positioned vertically. Have one standing straight up and the other pointed straight out, horizontally. It may look funny, but there’s a good reason for it: The devices picking up the wireless signal from your router will have better connectivity if they have parallel orientation. In other words, some devices like horizontal antennas and others like vertical ones. So give them the option.
8. Get new antennas for your router
If your router has slow, weak antennas, you can always get new ones of you don’t want to get a completely new router. Most router antennas simply screw on and are easy to replace. The top of the line router antennas are 9dBi, which can broadcast Wi-Fi signals over 400 feet.
9. Keep it away from other electronics
Other gadgets have a nasty habit of messing with your router’s signal. That’s because Wi-Fi and other electronics emit invisible waves through the air at different frequencies. Finding a central location for your router that is far from TVs, computers and microwaves will help boost your signal and avoid any interference.
10. Update your router’s firmware
Your router is similar to your computer in that it needs updates from time to time. Router manufacturers are always looking to for ways to make their products run faster and keep your data more secure. Find the manufacturer’s website for your router and keep your router up to date.
11. Keep the Wi-Fi squatters away
Sometimes your connection slows down because other people have found a way to use it. Use a secure password for your Wi-Fi connection that includes uppercase letters, lowercase letters and numbers. You can use a password generator if you’re stuck for ideas.
Bonus tip: use the more secure “WPA2” encryption for your wireless connection over “WPA”.
12. Run your Wi-Fi on a lower-traffic channel
You might not know this, but Wi-Fi operates on a series of channels, just like network TV did back in the day. Most Wi-Fi connections are on channels 1, 6 and 11. If you live in a densely populated area, you might be sharing your channel with dozens of other Wi-Fi connections. Try switching to a different channel for some smoother speeds.
Bonus tip: Wi-Fi Analyzer is a great free tool that lets you see how many connections in your area are currently on different channels.
13. Upgrade your wireless router
One of the unfortunate side effects of our rapid pace of technological advancement is that things get obsolete. Routers are no exception, here. If you’re using an 802.11g (slowest) or 802.11n (slower), it’s time to step up and get the latest and greatest in wireless routers — 802.11ac. It moves data around at up to 1GB per second. That’s over three times as fast as 802.11n and twenty times faster than 802.11g.
14. Update your network adapter’s drivers
It might not be your wireless router that’s causing the slowdown. If you notice that it’s mostly your computer feeling the slowdown, try updating the driver for your computer’s network adapter. If you’re using Windows, you can update your drivers by going into Device Manager and clicking on Network Adapters. You should see your network adapter in the dropdown menu. Click on your adapter, select Driver and then Update Driver.
15. Get a Wi-Fi booster
A Wi-Fi booster (or Wi-Fi repeater) works by picking up the signal from your current wireless router and sending it to another router, where it is broadcasted again. Some Wi-Fi boosters just plug right into an outlet and send data right though your power lines to a booster in another outlet. Wi-Fi boosters are great for large homes where just one wireless router won’t cut it. The booster will create a new wireless connection for your devices to connect to.
16. Use a mesh wireless system
Mesh wireless networks are the latest in home network technology. The way mesh networks work is by having multiple “nodes” set up that all communicate and pass data back and forth to each other. With a mesh network, you’d have a different node plugged into each major room in your home, ensuring a strong signal and fast connection throughout your home. They’re pricier than your average Wi-Fi router, but the price might be worth it if you have a large home with lots of rooms to cover.