All across America, WiFi reliability is almost as important as running water, especially if you are one of the many professionals working from home right now. If you’ve noticed your home WiFi is struggling to keep up with the sudden increase of use—laptops, wireless printers, video game consoles and tablets, smart appliances and TVs, home security systems, the list goes on—there are several things you can do to try and improve your signal strength right now.
There are five factors that affect WiFi strength:
- Distance from your router or modem to your devices
- Interference from baby monitors, microwaves and other devices on the same frequency
- Obstructions within your workspace (thick walls, metal, or ductwork)
- Router strength from low to high
- Load capacity (how may devices are connecting at one time)
Thing 1: Reboot!
Before you do anything, reboot your router. Rebooting clears the memory and resets any running tasks. Nine times out of ten, the simple act of rebooting a router, or any electronic device for that matter, will resolve a poor connection. Routers can easily get overloaded when multiple devices are hopping on and off your network.
Today, most homes have at least 10 devices connected, if not more. While the average number of devices capable of connecting to a WiFi network can be in the hundreds, it’s not recommended to push your router to max. Plus, the bandwidth that each of those 10 devices consumes can vary greatly depending on the task. Streaming video or gaming is a huge bandwidth hog. Even if you’re not having issues, making it a regular habit of rebooting your router every so often is also a great security practice even for home networks.
Thing 2: Move Your Router
The location of your router can greatly affect your signal strength. That’s because WiFi signals move in all directions, so if your router is sitting on the floor, or behind or close to metal objects, you may be self sabotaging your own network. The best place for a router is in a central location, up high, away from metal and concrete. Many apartment buildings are made with metal studs, so be sure to consider the construction of your workspace if you’re experiencing issues.
As a general rule of thumb for router placement:
In a central, high location, away from metal or devices that emit radio frequencies
near the ceiling on the 1st floor, or the floor of the 2nd floor
Three-story house: near the center of the 2nd floor
Thing 3: Update Your Router
Before you spend any money, check the age of your router. Technology today moves at the speed of light, so if you haven’t upgraded your router in a few years, it’s likely that a newer one will give you more reliability.
If you are renting equipment from an Internet Service Provider (ISP), contact them about upgrading. You’re probably paying for it anyway, so start with the free option of refreshing your equipment. Many providers have offices that allow same day equipment swapping if you are willing to take a drive, or they can always ship it to you free of charge.
Thing 4: Pump It Up
If your signal is still weak, consider investing in a WiFi booster, repeater or a powerline adapter. (Note: your ISP may even give you one of these for free if you ask!) Boosters and repeaters extend your WiFi signal. Powerline adapters send data signals over your home’s existing electrical wiring (aka your electrical outlets) for direct connections from secondary locations.
Here’s a short video from TP-Link that explains how this clever technology works:
Powerline adapters, which essentially turn WiFi into hard-wired ethernet connections, are especially useful if your company laptop requires a hard-wired connection such as those working in the financial or healthcare industries.
One of the shortfalls of home networks is that more often than not, homeowners have Internet services installed by a technician and assume that everything will just work. The reality is that most ISPs will merely provide the hookup and hardware, but the optimization of your services is really up to you.
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