We spend so much time using the internet each day, and many of our everyday devices rely on getting a good signal. When there are problems in picking up good Wi-fi, it can quickly become frustrating and can stop you getting on with your activities and tasks. Learn how to boost your home Wi-fi with our tips and tricks below.
What causes poor Wi-fi signal?
Knowing what the problem is will usually unlock the solution – but not always! It is always best to start with basic troubleshooting, in case the right fix is a simple one. Consider whether the problem is regular. If you have always had good signal, but suddenly it is dropping out, a call to your internet service provider is the best place to start.
If everything is fine at the ISP’s side, something else may be blocking or disrupting the signal. These are some of the more common causes of signal problems, along with how to resolve them quickly and easily.
Update your router
This one should be simple and you may well have already tried it, but sometimes the most obvious things can get overlooked. Run a full update on your router and see if this changes anything. Here is how to update your router:
- Run the Windows + R launch and enter cmd to create a new command window
- When prompted, enter ipconfig
- Grab the router’s IP address from the window, found under Default Gateway
- Close the command window and start up a web browser tab
- Enter the router’s IP address in the search bar
- Log in with the default password (as supplied with the router) or your own details
- Check for updates and amend settings as required
Building location and interference from neighbors
How your home is built can affect how well a signal can transmit. Lead-based building materials are no longer used because they are known to be harmful, but lead still exists in the walls of many older properties. Wire lumber supports used in some walls can also serve as a signal blocker, creating dead spots in the home. While there is not much you can do about the walls, you can move your router and devices around in the home, and with a little trial and error you can find the best spots to pick up internet signals.
If you live close to other properties, you might find many other neighbors are operating on the same router channel you use. Try simply switching channels and see if that makes a difference to the available bandwidth. This can be done easily by downloading one of many free mobile apps, which will analyze the network and advise on which channels are experiencing the lowest traffic at any given time. Channel switching can be done through your router’s settings (see above).
Secure your network
Speaking of neighbors, do you know if any of them are currently using your Wi-fi? If you have an unlocked or low-security network, chances are someone else is benefiting: and sapping your bandwidth in the process. If you live in a shared property or have a shared connection in your apartment block, there is not much you can do about overuse. However, if you pay for a private connection, you should take steps to secure it.
Set up a strong password that includes both letters and numbers, and which has at least nine characters. Do not use a simple or obvious word. Many routers have security protection such as firewalls, and are designed to limit Wi-fi to one premises at a time. While this is geat for keeping squatters off your line and messing up your internet speeds, it does mean that wireless signals are somewhat limited – which is why steps should be taken to extend your signal and reduce home dead spots.
Placing your router in an effective position
We recently looked at some of the top wireless routers on the market, many of which featured a dual-antennae design. Years ago, much of our communication was satellite based, and aerials were pointed upward to better receive their signal. Modern internet bands travel horizontally, and this is how your antennae should be positioned to attract the best signal.
Make sure it is away from the thickest walls – internal walls are less dense and allow signal to pass through more effectively. Move any objects that might obstruct the signal, and ensure clutter is kept away from the area where the router sits. If you use a signal extender, this should also be kept in a clear area with space to receive and send signals.
Router placement tips:
- For effective internet signal in one room, place the router at mid-height.
- To reach several rooms on one floor, place the router in the central room.
- For signal on multiple floors, the router should be in the center of the middle floor.
- Where a large area needs to be covered, use signal boosters at strategic points.
Top tech fixes for poor home Wi-fi signal
Wi-fi extenders are widely available on the market for relatively little cost, and they really do make a difference. Our recent piece on Gadgets That Make Life Easier included a hot little Wi-fi signal booster from Netgear (see review below). Not only is it powerful, but it is also inadvertently adorable! If you don’t mind spending a little, a Wi-fi extender or booster is certainly a fast fix to your signal problems.
Most boosters and extenders plug in to the mains socket, although some are battery powered for use on the go. Operating instructions vary across devices, so be sure to check the user manual when setting up for the first time. Many will work as soon as they are connected to a power source, so you will see an instant impact when you check your signal. So, which Wi-fi booster should you go for? It all depends on what you want to spend, and how much of a helping hand your home internet needs.
Top Wi-Fi Signal Extenders For Any Budget
- Budget: NETGEAR N300 Wi-Fi Range Extender
Extends bandwidth to an impressive 300Mbps, and accommodates wireless and ethernet connections. This powerful, capable device has extendable antennae for maximum signal, and it works with all mobile, gaming, computing and entertainment devices. It fits any standard home socket and could also be used with an adapter for international sockets.
- Mid-range: TP-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender
Creates dual-band increase of 1200Mbps, and suitable for use with devices on any operating system and through any platform. Intelligent signal seeks out stronger frequencies and sares them more evenly, distributing Wi-fi signal to every room. The system runs on mains power from a detachable power cable and plug adapter.
- High-end: Securifi Almond Touchscreen Wi-Fi Router/Range Extender
Combines router and Wi-fi booster in one device, which is operated through touch screen controls. It also functions as a wireless bridge. The universal signal booster works with any existing router devices and is also useful for extending larger networks. It has an ethernet port for wired devices and connects to the mains.
DIY extenders and boosters
Of course of you don’t want to splash out on more tech and you have exhausted all the other options, you could always try a few DIY tricks to make your signal stretch a little further! Old radio antennae can be repurposed as extenders, and similar devices can be crafted from household items. Even a simple pasta strainer can serve as an aerial for internet signals.
Creative and effective solutions can be seen across the web, from shoeboxes filled with aluminum foil to potato chip tubes and drinking straws. These rudimentary devices do actually work in many cases, and are a quirky solution to dead spots at home. Of course, there will be a whole lot of trial and error involved, and you might go through several rolls of foil before you hit upon the right answer!
Product details and images sourced from Amazon.com
All other images used as approved under terms of Creative Commons License