Get the most out of your WiFi network with these top 11 tips to boost Wi-Fi connectivity.
1. Add external WiFi antennas
External antennas added to a router or access point may be able to not only boost but redirect a deficient signal. A replacement antenna often has higher gain and offers the choice of selecting a directional WiFi antenna for more focused broadcasting of the signal or omni-directional antennas that can improve all-round coverage. Supplementary antennas can be attached directly to the router or via a length of antenna cable that allows further positioning for the best signal.
2. Don't use the default channel on your Wi-Fi router:
- Usually the default is channel 6, and most of your neighbors will be using the default channel.
- Channels 1, 6, and 11 are the only channels that do not overlap and so can be used without sharing frequency space.
- Try different channels to determine which one has the least interference and best signal strength for your location. Read more about finding the ideal channel for your WiFi network, and how to set the channel on your WiFi router.
3. Try both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks on your home or business Wi-Fi network, to see which provides a better signal for you. There are advantages and disadvantages of both, and you have to try both to determine which will provide the best signal performance for your network or connection.
4. Add in an extender or repeater
If moving your Wi-Fi router fails to improve signal strength it may be worth investing in a Wi-Fi extender or repeater to extend the signal range of your network. A wireless repeater can save on the inconvenience of moving your router or networked devices. These devices typically receive amplify and transmit onwards an existing signal, greatly improving the coverage you can achieve.
5. Analyze your Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi analyzers are downloadable programs that can be used to evaluate the performance of your Wi-Fi network. It will provide concise data about how your network is being used, speeds, bottlenecks, and help you identify open channels, and position your router better.
6. Change / upgrade your router or update router firmware
Upgrading a router that uses a legacy version of wi-fi is a quick and simple way of improving the performance of your network. A modern Wi-Fi router will enable you to take advantage of Wi-Fi delivered with better speeds, multiple frequencies, and with the option of using multiple antennas. Upgrading your router is prudent if the wi-fi standard that devices such as your laptop or smartphone use is more recent than the version used by your router.
7. Tighten up your security
WiFi hackers actively target poorly secured accounts to use the available bandwidth or eavesdrop on your network for more clandestine purposes. Often the first indication that a network has been compromised is a reduction in speeds or service. Strong passwords and WiFi encryption like WAP2 will improve the resilience of your network against attack.
8. Directional vs. Omnidirectional: If you are connecting to a network in a certain direction or broadcasting in a certain direction: Use a directional antenna rather than an omni-directional antenna.
9. Long Range Point to Point and Point to Multipoint Links: Parabolic antennas are the very best for long-range, point to point links. For long range point to multipoint links: Use a yagi directional antenna.
10. Pass thru obstacles, walls, trees, forests:
- 2.4GHz frequency is far better at penetrating walls than 5GHz frequencies. See more advantages and disadvantages of the frequencies
- Long-range wireless links: Use signal booster with a high-gain antenna on one end: See example network diagram. Test and if it's not enough signal-strength; put a high-gain antenna on both ends.
- TREES: If the tree(s) are not too thick or if your link is from a high point to a low point, 2.4GHz will probably suffice. But if 2.4GHz is over-crowded or the tree(s) are thick, 900MHz would be a better solution.
11. To send signal high or low, such as to cover multiple floors of a building: Using a smaller-gain omnidirectional antenna, such as 2dBi or 3 dBi works better than a high-gain antenna. Lower-gain omni-directional antennas send and receive the signal in more of a vertical radiation pattern (high and low), whereas higher gain antennas have a more horizontal-directional radiation pattern. Of the omni-directional portable antennas, 7dBi has the optimal balance between horizontal and vertical range.
Wi-Fi has become an essential part of everyday life and maintaining a robust, optimally performing network is key to being productive in work, recreation, and household management. Understanding how to optimally set-up and manage your 802.11 network is critical to maintaining secure and properly functioning connectivity for all your WiFi-enabled devices.
Posted by George Hardesty on 24th Aug 2020