We’ve all been there: You open a YouTube video; you’re binging on Netflix; you’re playing an online game; you’re uploading family photos, and BAM! Your WiFi network crashes. Your videos get stuck on endless buffering; you get kicked off your game; or your photo uploads fail completely. You scream. You weep. You’re tempted to throw things.
When your Internet finally comes back, your first stop is Google and you’re madly searching how to increase your WiFi signal. Deep breaths, friend. There are several simple solutions to your problem – and many of them are free.
We’re going to assume you’ve already tried rebooting/resetting your modem and router. Here are nine more steps to a better a WiFi signal (or, to extend your WiFi range, if extreme measures become necessary):
- Update Your Router’s Firmware
- Put Your Router in the Right Spot
- Switch Your Router Channel
- Make Sure You Stagger Bandwidth Usage
- Install a Strong Wi-Fi Password
- Upgrade to the Latest Wi-Fi Technology
- Swap Standard Antennae for High-Gain Antennae
- Install a Wireless Repeater / WiFi Extender
- Install an Outlet Timer
Let’s jump right in:
1. Update Your Router’s Firmware
We love free, and it doesn’t get any freer than simply updating your router’s firmware. If there’s a way to squeeze faster speeds out of your current tech, the manufacturer has probably already thought of it – and made it available, via a free update. Most router firmware updates are a simple as a mouse-click, so before you do anything else, start here. But if that doesn’t work…
2. Put Your Router in the Right Spot
Is your boxy, ugly router tucked into a little nook, safely out of sight? Sorry to say, if you value speed you may need to put up with the eyesore: for a better WiFi signal, your router must be out in the open, unblocked by walls, furniture, and other obstructions. Determine the best location for your router, arrange your antennae perpendicular (standing straight up) to the router, and then try it out. But if you’re still surfing at the speed of molasses…
3. Switch Your Router Channel
Did you know that your neighbors could be interfering with your Wi-Fi signal? That’s because their Internet routers are likely operating on the same channel as yours, causing a sort of Wi-Fi traffic jam. The solution: change the channel. It’s as simple as running a Wi-Fi analyzer tool and then choosing the right router channel. Step back and watch your Internet speed soar. But if speeds are still slow…
4. Make Sure You Stagger Bandwidth Usage
Engaging in multiple high-bandwidth tasks at the same time – online gaming, while watching Netflix, while backing up to the cloud – is a sure way to bring your Internet grinding to a standstill. How to increase that WiFi signal? Stagger your bandwidth hogs. But if the stagger trick doesn’t work…
5. Install a Strong WiFi Password
The last of the free & easy solutions? Upgrade your access to a super strong password, which will bump any signal leeches off your network. But if that doesn’t do the trick…
6. Upgrade to the Latest WiFi Technology
It’s time to get serious with your WiFi network. First step: upgrade your tech. The newest hardware operates on wireless N and AC, which will assure you the fastest speeds out there. (Provided your computers and devices are equipped with wireless N or AC.) Go for a dual-band model, like the NETGEAR Nighthawk or the ASUS RT-AC66U, to avoid interference with microwaves, cordless phones, and other tech that operates on common router bands.
7. Swap Standard Antennae for High-Gain Antennae
Believe it or not, the antennae that come with your fancy new router don’t afford the strongest signal. Exchanging the standard (wimpy) antennae for an omni-directional, high-gain antenna, such as the Hawking Technology 15dBi Antenna, can make your WiFi signal stronger, gaining you 360º signal amplification and up to 1.5-mile range.
8. Install a Wireless Repeater / WiFi Extender
A repeater or range extender can do wonders for your wireless signal, especially in large homes, homes with thick (or plaster) walls, and in homes with other common obstructions. In basic terms, a wifi extender hooks up to your router (similar to the way your laptop connects), then re-broadcasts your signal. The repeater doesn’t need to be the same brand as your router – the Securifi Almond Touchscreen Access Point and the NETGEAR N300 Wi-Fi Range Extender are both good choices for most routers – but you should place it out in the open, where it enjoys a strong signal (80% or more). (Pss, here’s how to test your WiFi signal strength.)
9. Install an Outlet Timer (Bear with Us)
Finally, a simple way to ensure your network is working well? Reboot, reboot, reboot. (There’s a reason your ISP always asks, “have you tried rebooting?” every time you call into Tech Support.) Do yourself a favor, and set an outlet timer – an inexpensive one, like the GE MyTouchsmart or the Century Digital Programmable Timer , will do the trick perfectly – to reboot your router once a day.