Everyone knows how frustrating a sketchy Wi-Fi signal can be. You’re about to send an important file. You’re about to Skype with your sister who lives in Australia. And then the signal goes dead, and your wireless internet goes down without warning. You may even work from home, and the sketchy Wi-Fi means a consistently frustrating day with constant interruptions and less productivity.
Here are nine things that you need to check and fix to make your Wi-Fi work for and not against you.
1. Reduce your wireless interference
Microwave ovens, garage door openers, and baby monitors work at the same frequency as wireless technology such as routers. If all of these wireless devices are at work, your router may not work through all of the wavelengths. You can help your wireless device to work by not using the other devices. If you have an Android, you can get an app that will analyze the Wi-Fi interference around you.
2. Change your channel
Wireless routers work similarly to radio station channels. Just as you might get interference from radio station channels, you could get interference from other Wi-Fi. Try changing the station for your wireless router to see if your signal strength improves. Your computer will detect the new channel and possibly work better.
RR: You can access the wireless channel settings from your router’s Wireless settings page (usually at http://192.168.1.1/)
3. Move your router to a central location in the house
If your router is against the wall in your house, the signal will be weaker on the opposite side of the house. If your router is on the first floor and the computer getting wireless internet is on the second floor, the router should be placed on a high shelf on the first floor. You can also see where the signal is the strongest in your house by using software such as HeatMapper, which will show you where the ‘cold spots’ are in your house. The software is free although you will need to enter your email address.
4. Upgrade to 802.11n
Wireless-G, or 802.11g, is the most common kind of wireless network, but wireless-N can be twice as fast and has better efficacy. If you’re going to buy a new router, definitely look for wireless-N equipment.
5. Get the most recent drivers
Often, the original versions of Wi-Fi equipment have problems including slow connections and challenged features. If you get a new network device, you have to immediately make sure that there are no updates that you haven’t downloaded.
6. Add a home-made reflector behind your router
Routers have omni-directional antennas that emit signals in every direction. If your router needs to be near a wall, you can build your own reflector out of nothing more than Aluminium foil. Tear the foil into the shape of a rectangle, curl it a bit, and place it behind your router.
7. Add a wireless adaptor
If your desktop or laptop is older, you may benefit from adding an external wireless adaptor or internal network card that will improve wireless reception and internet reception.
8. Replace the router’s antenna
Another way of improving the antenna’s signal that broadcasts in all directions and is therefore weakened in general, you can upgrade to a high-gain antenna, which will allow the wireless signal to broadcast in one specific direction thereby direct the signal to desired location.
9. Buy a Wi-Fi Range Extender
Wi-Fi Range Extenders, true to its name, extend the range of a wireless signal. Most extenders have a number of LAN ports so that you can connect a desktop or laptop PC to the extender while it also works to connect your wireless network. The extender also allows you to set up security not only through the router, but also through the extender.
If your wireless is acting up, there’s no need to throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water. It’s probably not an issue with your computer; it’s more likely an issue with your wireless signal. From turning off your baby monitor to building a tin-foil reflector, try several free and easy solutions and you may find that your Wi-Fi works twice as fast as it has been working.
Amy Nielson is an avid blogger who writes often for tech sites. You can follow her on Twitter @NielsonAmy.