How to boost your wireless network

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How to boost your wireless network
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Eight ways to improve the Wi-Fi signal and performance for your devices.

Wi-Fi is an essential tool for connecting your devices to the web at home and at work. A poor Wi-Fi signal is a common problem that can hinder you from getting a smooth internet connection, causing your browser to stutter, drop downloads midway and generally perform badly.

Fortunately, there are a number of solutions to boost your Wi-Fi connection. Here are some of the better methods for home and small office networks.

1. Change your wireless channel

Wireless routers send out their signals on a number of overlapping channels. There’s a good chance that other wireless routers in your areas – from neighbours or nearby cafes and businesses – may be running on the same channel(s) as your own.

The two main bands for carrying Wi-Fi today are 2.4GHz and 5GHz. You want you route to be one channel which is as clear of traffic as possible. You can use free software and apps such as Wireshark, Wifi Analyzer or Wifi Sonar to scan for suitable channels your area. You’ll find a short FAQ on the how to use the Wifi Analyzer here.

2. Eliminate interference from other appliances and objects

Most wireless routers operate on the 2.4GHz band, but they’re not the only devices that use that frequency. A whole host of other appliances also use it to communicate, which can lead to congestion and interference, while certain materials and objects can also interfere with the signal.

These can include any wireless device – speakers, security cameras, console controllers and music players – plus AV senders, baby monitors, Bluetooth devices, microwaves, garage door openers, old CRT televisions, building materials such as chicken wire, and even mirrors, Christmas lights and fish tanks.

Things like building materials will need a physical workaround, but for devices, you’ll need to move them further away from your router, use a different band or replace them with devices that operate on a different band.

3. Find the perfect position for your router

The physical location of your router is one of the most important things to bear in mind when it comes to wireless performance. You'll need to ensure that your Wi-Fi router isn't obscured by furniture or other appliances, and is as close as possible to the centre of the property.

It's also worth remembering that connection speed decays significantly the further your device is from the router.

4. Try a Wi-Fi booster

If you need your Wi-Fi signal to stretch just that little bit farther, it may be worth investing in a Wi-Fi repeater. Repeaters, also known as range extenders, take the signal from your existing router and re-broadcast it over a wider area.

They can be picked up reasonably cheaply, but there are a few drawbacks: first, the repeater operates on a different network to your original router, so you won't get a single, seamless network. Secondly, your connection speed will halve as it passes through each range extender.

Next: hack your router, and upgrade your router and devices

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