Take steps to improve your Wi Fi signal strength and range

Understanding WiFi Signal Strength

These common questions illustrate the somewhat confusing nature of signal strength. First, we must understand the units of measurement, and what those measurements mean when deploying, managing, or diagnosing problems in a typical WiFi environment. Only then can we understand what signal strength is needed for specific uses.

The Basics: Why is my WiFi so slow and how do I fix it?

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Planning

The key to any good wireless deployment is proper planning, which requires a set of goals and requirements to achieve. Determining minimum signal strength requirements in the coverage area is almost alway part of the network requirements list.

Requirements and Variables

Desired signal strength for optimal performance varies based on many factors, such as background noise in the environment, the amount of clients on the network, what the desired data rates are, and what applications will be used. For example, a VoIP or VoWiFi system may require much better coverage than a barcode scanner system in a warehouse.

Understanding Signal Strength

WiFi signal strength is tricky. The most accurate way to express it is with milliwatts (mW), but you end up with tons of decimal places due to WiFi’s super-low transmit power, making it difficult to read. For example, -40 dBm is 0.0001 mW, and the zeros just get more intense the more the signal strength drops.

RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) is a common measurement, but most WiFi adapter vendors handle it differently, as it isn’t standardized. Some adapters use a scale of 0-60, and others 0-255.

Ultimately, the easiest and most consistent way to express signal strength is with dBm, which stands for decibels relative to a milliwatt. Since RSSI is handled differently by most WiFi adapters, it’s usually converted to dBm to make it consistent and human-readable.

  • mW — milliwatts (1 mW = 0 dBm)
  • RSSI — Received Signal Strength Indicator (usually 0-60 or 0-255)
  • dBm — Decibels in relation to a milliwatt (usually -30 to -100)

Reading dBm

The first thing to understand about dBm is that we’re working in negatives. -30 is a higher signal than -80, because -80 is a much lower number.

Next, it’s important to know that dBm does not scale in a linear fashion like you’d expect, instead being logarithmic. That means that signal strength changes aren’t smooth and gradual. The Rule of 3s and 10s highlights the logarithmic nature of dBm:

3 dB of loss = -3 dB = halves signal strength
3 dB of gain = +3 dB = doubles signal strength
10 dB of loss = -10 dB = 10 times less signal strength (0.1 mW = -10 dBm, 0.01 mW = -20 dBm, etc.)
10 dB of gain = +10 dB = 10 times more signal strength (0.00001 mW = -50 dBm, 0.0001 mW = -40 dBm, etc.)

Ideal Signal Strength

So what signal strength should you shoot for? For simple, low-throughput tasks like sending emails, browsing the web, or scanning barcodes, -70 dBm is a good signal strength. For higher-throughput applications like voice over IP or streaming video, -67 dBm is better, and some engineers recommend -65 dBm if you plan to support mobile devices like iPhones and Android tablets.

Note: The numbers in this chart are suggestions only. The desired signal strengths will vary, based on the requirements for the network.

Signal Strength TL;DR Required for
-30 dBm Amazing Max achievable signal strength. The client can only be a few feet from the AP to achieve this. Not typical or desirable in the real world. N/A
-67 dBm Very Good Minimum signal strength for applications that require very reliable, timely delivery of data packets. VoIP/VoWiFi, streaming video
-70 dBm Okay Minimum signal strength for reliable packet delivery. Email, web
-80 dBm Not Good Minimum signal strength for basic connectivity. Packet delivery may be unreliable. N/A
-90 dBm Unusable Approaching or drowning in the noise floor. Any functionality is highly unlikely. N/A

Tracking Signal Strength

Signal strength is easy to track with inSSIDer. Configure the signal strength threshold to whatever signal strength you require, select your network, and walk the desired coverage area.

If the blue line falls below the dotted line, you know you have a dead spot. That’s it!

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The 9 Best Ways to Boost a Wi-Fi Signal

Take steps to improve your Wi-Fi signal strength and range

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A weak Wi-Fi signal complicates your online lifestyle, but there are plenty of ways to boost your Wi-Fi signal to improve productivity and enjoyment.

Many people like to extend their Wi-Fi range outside during warmer months of the year so they can enjoy the outdoors. For others, browsing speed might be slow inside the house, a particular room might be in a wireless dead zone, or they can’t stream movies without buffering.

If any of these sound like you, try a combination of the suggestions here to increase signal strength and expand the Wi-Fi range to improve your connection.

Relocate the Router or Gateway Device

The range of a typical Wi-Fi network often doesn’t cover an entire house. Distance from the router and physical obstructions between devices and the router affect signal strength. The placement of a Wi-Fi broadband router or other network gateway device directly affects its signal reach.

Experiment by repositioning your router in different locations to avoid physical obstructions and radio interference, which are two common range limiters for Wi-Fi equipment. Typical sources of Wi-Fi signal impediments in residences include brick walls, large metal appliances, microwave ovens, and cordless phones. Sometimes, raising the height of the router improves the range because many obstructions are located at floor or waist height.

Change the Wi-Fi Channel Number and Frequency

Range-limiting wireless interference may be caused by neighboring Wi-Fi networks that use the same Wi-Fi radio channel. Changing Wi-Fi channel numbers on your equipment can eliminate this interference and improve overall signal strength.

WiFi set channel

All routers have a 2.4 GHz band, but if you have a dual-band router—one with both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands—you’ll likely experience less interference on the 5 GHz band. The switch is a simple one. Check the router manufacturer’s website or documentation for instructions.

Update the Router Firmware

Router manufacturers make improvements to their software and issue firmware updates to improve the performance of their products. Update the router firmware occasionally, even if you don’t experience problems with the router, for security updates and other improvements.

Some routers have the update process built-in, but most older models require you to find the update and download it from the equipment manufacturer.

Upgrade The Router Or Gateway Radio Antennas

Stock Wi-Fi antennas on most home network equipment do not pick up radio signals as well as some aftermarket antennas. Most modern routers feature removable antennas for this reason.

A TECHTOO 9dBi Omni WiFi Antenna

Consider upgrading the antennas on your router with more powerful ones. Some router manufacturers advertise high-gain antennas on their products, but these tend to be offered only on expensive models, so even these may benefit from upgrading. Also, consider a directional antenna, which sends the signal in a specific direction rather than in all directions, when your router is situated at the far end of the house.

Add a Signal Amplifier

Bidirectional boosters amplify the wireless signal in both transmitting and receiving directions—an important point because Wi-Fi transmissions are two-way radio communications.

Add a Wi-Fi signal amplifier (sometimes called a signal booster) to a router, access point, or Wi-Fi client at the place where an antenna normally connects.

Try a Wireless Access Point

Businesses sometimes deploy dozens of wireless access points (APs) to cover large office buildings. Many homes wouldn’t benefit from having an AP, but a large residence can. Wireless access points help cover those hard-to-reach corner rooms or outdoor patios.

Adding an access point to a home network requires connecting it to the primary router or gateway. A second broadband router can often be used instead of an ordinary AP because many home routers offer an access point mode specifically for this purpose.

Use A Wi-Fi Extender

A wireless extender is a stand-alone unit positioned within the range of a wireless router or access point. A Wi-Fi extender serves as a two-way relay station for Wi-Fi signals. Clients that are too far away from the original router or AP can instead associate with the same local wireless network through the extender.

Hand inserting a Wi-Fi extender (repeater) into electrical socket on the wall

An alternative to a Wi-Fi extender is a mesh network, which uses router-like devices in each room to serve Wi-Fi in that room.

Purchase a Wi-Fi extender and install it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Try Quality-of-Service Tools

When several people use the same Wi-Fi connection, Quality-of-Service comes into play. The QoS tools limit the amount of bandwidth that apps use. You can specify which apps and services receive priority, and set priorities for different times of the day. QoS prevents streaming video from degrading when everyone in your house decides to download files or play their favorite video games at once. They can still download their files and play games, just at a slower rate, so that you can enjoy your movie.

WiFi QoS settings

Change the QoS settings, which are usually located in the advanced settings of the router interface. You may see gaming or multimedia settings that prioritize bandwidth for those particular applications.

You won’t find these handy tools on old routers. If you can’t find settings for this, your router probably needs an update.

Ditch the Out-of-Date Router

Equipment manufacturers make improvements to their products. If you’ve used the same router for years, you’ll see tremendous Wi-Fi improvements by buying a current-generation router. The current standard for routers is 802.11ac, and Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is gaining ground. If you run a router on standard 802.11g or 802.11b, you can’t do much to improve it. Even speedier 802.11n routers can’t keep up with the ac (Wi-Fi 5) and ax (Wi-Fi 6) standards.

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How To Boost Weak WiFi Signal On Windows 10

WiFi signal or WiFi range issue with Windows 10 is pretty common among users. Along with and apart from weak WiFi signal, users may face several other issues related to WiFi. These issues include slow WiFi speed, WiFi connection dropping regularly, not being able to connect to WiFi automatically, etc. In this article, we are going to look at the solutions to boost weak WiFi signal on Windows 10. These methods may also work well for other WiFi range or signal related issues on Windows 10.

What are the reasons that may lead to weak WiFi signal on PC? At times the Windows 10 updates may cause the issue. Outdated WiFi Driver, issues with WiFi card, and some internal setting might be the leading reasons for the same.

One of the ways to check if the WiFi range issue is actually there with your PC is through comparison. See if

Let us see how to boost WiFi signal on laptop or PC on Windows 10.

How to Fix Weak WiFi Signal on Laptop and PC

There are several simple, as well as complex methods involved that will help you fix weak WiFi signal on Windows 10 PC.

#Solution 1 – Maximize WiFi Adapter Performance to fix weak WiFi signal in Windows 10

Maximizing performance of WiFi Adapter from medium to maximum can be helpful. The WiFi adapter is set to work on medium performance. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Press Windows button, and in the Start search bar, type Power Options. Select Power Options from the search menu.

Power Opttions Start

Step 2: In the new window that opens, click on the Change plan settings of the power plan you are using.

Change Plan Settings

Step 3: Click on the Change advanced power settings.

Advanced Power Setting

Step 4: A new window opens. Here, look for Wireless Adapter Settings. Click on it to expand. Then expand the Power Saving Mode. If you are on a desktop, you will see just one option, named Setting. If on a laptop, you will see On battery and Plugged in options. Click on the option(s) and select the Maximum Performance option. When done, click on Ok to apply the settings.

Wireless Prformance Max

See if this method worked to increase WiFi range in Windows 10. If not, try the next method.

#Solution 2 – Set WiFi Sensibility Value to Maximum

You can set your WiFi Sensibility value to highest capacity and change a couple more settings in order to boost WiFi signal on laptop or PC running on Windows 10. Here’s what to do:

Step 1: Press Win + X keys on your keyboard. From the menu, click on Device Manager.

Win X Dev Manager

Step 2: From the list of device drivers in Device Manager, find your WiFi driver. Right click on it and select the Properties option.

Wifi Properties

Step 3: In the Properties window, go to the Advanced tab. There, in the list named Property, look for Roaming Sensitivity Level, Roam Tendency, or Roaming Aggressiveness. Select it when found, and from the Value drop-down, select the Aggressive option.

Roaming Sensitivity Level

Step 4: Now, in the list, select the Antenna Diversity option, and change its value to Auto.

Antenna Diversity

Step 5: Look for Band Preference or BSS Mode. If using a 5G connection, set the value to 802.11a. If using a normal 2.4GHz connection, set the value to 802.11g or 802.11b.

Note: The 802.11a value will only be available if your WiFi card supports 5G.

Bss Mode

Step 6: Once done changing these values, press on Ok to apply the settings. After that, restart your PC.

See if making these changes helped to boost weak WiFi signal on your Windows 10 PC. If nothing changed, give the next method a try.

#Solution 3 – Change WiFi MTU

You can try to change the MTU value of your WiFi adapter. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Press Windows + X and click on Command Prompt (Admin) in the menu that opens.

Cmd Admin

Step 2: In Command Prompt window, type netsh interface ipv4 show subinterfaces and press Enter. Note down the name of your WiFi adapter that appears. It could be Wireless Network Connection or Wi-Fi.

Mtu Wifi Name

Step 3: In the command prompt window, type the command given below

Now press Enter.

Note: If your Wi-Fi network adapter name is different , then replace Wi-Fi with a different name in above code.

To know, your WiFi adapter name, do this:-

  • Search View Network Connections in Windows 10 search box. Click on search result.

View Network Connections Min

Wifi Name Min

In the screenshot given above, the WiFi name is Wi-Fi

Additional Steps

In Command Prompt, type ipconfig /flushdns and press Enter.

Flush Dns

type netsh winsock reset catalog and press Enter.

Reset Catalog

type netsh int ip reset and press Enter.

Ip Reset

#Solution 4 – Update WiFi Driver

If the WiFi Network Driver on your PC is outdated or faulty, it may be causing all the trouble. You can try to update the WiFi driver as the first method to fix weal WiFi signal on Windows 10 laptop or PC. Follow the steps given below:

Step 1: Press the Windows + X keys on your keyboard. From the Win +X menu, click on Device Manager.

Win X Dev Manager

Step 2: Device Manager will open with the list of drivers. Look for the Network Adapters dropdown in the list of drivers. Click the Network Adapters option to expand it, then locate the Wireless internet driver. Do a right click on the WiFi driver and click on the Update driver software option.

Update Driver Software

Step 3: In the Update Driver window that opens, click on the Search automatically for updated driver software option. Your PC will begin looking for an updated version of the WiFi network driver. After a new version is found, the WiFi driver will be updated.

Auto Search Driver

Restart your PC to complete the update process. If your driver is already updated to the latest version, or if the update didn’t fix weak WiFi signal on your PC, try the next method.

#Solution 5 – Check WiFi Card for Issues

If you use a PC, you must give your WiFi network card a check. Sometimes it’s the WiFi card that causes the issues. If the WiFi card is loosely connected to your PC, or if there’s dust accumulated on the card and connecting ports, it can lead to a weak WiFi signal. Try to reconnect the WiFi card to see if that works.

And old WiFi card could also be the reason why your PC is not getting enough WiFi signal. You can replace your PC’s WiFi card if you think its too old.

Are you not aware of what a WiFi card is or are not familiar with your PC’s hardware? Get help from someone who is an expert in PC hardware.

In the end,

if nothing is working, and you haven’t changed your WiFi card, try changing it to a new one. Additionally, you can buy Wi-Fi extenders which can be found online which increases the range of WiFi routers.

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10 Ways to Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal

Check out these quick tips to boost your wireless signal from your router, extend and optimize your Wi-Fi coverage, and speed up your surfing.

Browsing slowing to a crawl, the inability to stream, dropped Wi-Fi signals, wireless dead zones—every one of these problems is maddening in a world where getting online has become, for some, as necessary as breathing. (Well, maybe not that critical. but still important.)

If you feel like your Wi-Fi has gotten sluggish, there are many tools you can use to test the speed of your internet. There are also a few tricks you can try to troubleshoot your network issues. However, if the only way you can get decent reception is by standing next to your wireless router, these simple tips can help optimize your network.

Check Your Wired Internet Connection

Before you blame the Wi-Fi, make sure the internet coming into your house is performing as it should. Find an Ethernet cable and plug your computer directly into your modem—you may need a USB to Ethernet adapter if your laptop doesn’t have an Ethernet port.

Run a speed test to see your internet speed. If it doesn’t match the speed on your internet bill, you may need to call your ISP or replace your modem. If your speed test does match your internet bill, but it still seems slow, it may be time to pony up for a better plan. (My grandmother was convinced her Wi-Fi was faulty, only for me to tell her she was subscribed to a snail’s-pace 3Mbps connection.)

If the modem seems okay, try running the test again wirelessly, standing right next to the router. If you get similarly good speeds next to the router, but not elsewhere in the house, then your Wi-Fi coverage may be to blame. If your internet is still slow standing right next to the router, you may have some outdated gear that needs an upgrade.

Update Your Router Firmware

Before you start tweaking things, it’s a good idea to update your router. Router manufacturers are always improving software to eke out a bit more speed. How easy—or how hard—it is to upgrade your firmware depends entirely on your device’s manufacturer and model.

Most current routers have the update process built right into the administration interface, so it’s just a matter of hitting a firmware upgrade button. Other models, particularly if they’re older, still require you to visit the manufacturer’s website, download a firmware file from your router’s support page, and upload it to the administration interface. It’s tedious, but still a good thing to do since it would be such a simple fix.

In fact, even if your wireless network isn’t ailing, you should make it a point to update your firmware on a regular basis for performance improvements, better features, and security updates. For help with this, we have a guide on accessing your router’s settings.

If you really want to get the most out of your current router, the adventurous should look at a third-party firmware, like the open-source DD-WRT. DD-WRT can ramp up performance and give you access to more advanced networking features, including the ability to install a virtual private network (VPN) right onto your router. It’s a bit more complex to set up, but for tech-savvy users, it may be worthwhile.

Achieve Optimal Router Placement

Not all homes will distribute Wi-Fi signal equally. The fact is, where you place the router can hugely affect your wireless coverage. It may seem logical to have the router inside a cabinet and out of the way, or right by the window where the cable comes in, but that’s not always the case. Rather than relegating it to a far end of your home, the router should be in the center of your house, if possible, so its signal can reach to each corner with ease.

In addition, wireless routers need open spaces, away from walls and obstructions. So while it’s tempting to put that ugly black box in a closet or behind a bunch of books, you’ll get a better signal if it’s surrounded by open air (which should prevent the router from overheating, too). Keep it away from heavy-duty appliances or electronics as well, since running those in close proximity can impact Wi-Fi performance. If you can eliminate even one wall between your workspace and the router, you can drastically improve performance.

If your router has external antennas, orient them vertically to bump up coverage. If you can, it even helps to elevate the router—mount it high on the wall or on the top shelf to get a better signal. There are plenty of tools to help you visualize your network coverage. We like Heatmapper or inSSIDer, which show you both the weak and strong spots in your Wi-Fi network. There are plenty of mobile apps, too, such as Netgear’s WiFi Analytics.

What’s Your Frequency?

Take a look at your network’s administrator interface and make sure you have it configured for optimum performance. If you have a dual-band router, you’ll likely get better throughput by switching to the 5GHz band instead of using the more common 2.4GHz band.

Not only does 5GHz offer faster speeds, but you’ll likely encounter less interference from other wireless networks and devices, because the 5GHz frequency is not as commonly used. (It doesn’t handle obstructions and distances quite as well, though, so it won’t necessarily reach as far as a 2.4GHz signal does.)

Most modern dual-band routers should offer you the option to use the same network name, or SSID, on both bands. Check your router’s administration interface, look for the 5GHz network option, and give it the same SSID and password as your 2.4GHz network. That way, your devices will automatically choose the best signal whenever they can.

(If your router doesn’t offer you the option to use the same SSID, just give it another name—like SmithHouse-5GHz—and try to connect to that one manually whenever possible.)

Change That Channel

Interference is a big issue, especially for those who live in densely populated areas. Signals from other wireless networks can impact speeds, not to mention some cordless phone systems, microwaves, and other electronic devices.

Ever play with walkie-talkies as a kid? You may remember how the units needed to be on the same «channel» in order for you to hear each other. And if you happened to be on the same channel as your neighbors, you could listen in on someone else’s conversation, even if they were using a completely different set.

In that same vein, all modern routers can switch across different channels when communicating with your devices. Most routers will choose the channel for you, but if neighboring wireless networks are also using the same channel, you’ll encounter signal congestion. A good router set to Automatic will try to choose the least congested channel, but older or cheaper routers may just choose a predefined channel, even if it isn’t the best one. That could be a problem.

On Windows-based PCs, you can see what channels neighboring Wi-Fi networks are using. From the command prompt type netsh wlan show all, and you’ll see a list of all wireless networks and the channels being used in your vicinity. The aforementioned network analyzers can also show you this information, often in an easier-to-read graphical format.

At the PCMag office, for instance, most of our networks and those of our neighbors are using channels 6 and 11. In general, for 2.4GHz you want to stick to channels 1, 6, and 11 since they’re the only ones that don’t overlap with other channels (which can degrade performance). 5GHz generally uses non-overlapping channels, however, which should make selecting the right one much easier.

If you find the Auto setting isn’t working well for you, sign into your router’s administrator interface, head to the basic wireless category, and try selecting one manually (ideally, one that isn’t in use by many networks in your area). Run another speed test to see if that provides a better signal and faster speeds over the Automatic setting in your problem areas.

Keep in mind that channel congestion can change over time, so if you choose a channel manually, you may want to check in once in a while to make sure it’s still the best one.

Kick Off Wi-Fi Intruders

It’s entirely possible the problem has nothing to do with interference or Wi-Fi range. If your network is open, or has a weak password, you could have an unwanted guest or two piggybacking on your network. If the neighbor is downloading all eight seasons of Game of Thrones on your Wi-Fi, your video chats will suffer.

These tools can help you find a list of devices on your Wi-Fi, which may help you sniff out uninvited neighbors. Your router’s admin interface may also be a traffic analyzer of some sort that will tell you which devices are using lots of data—you may even find one of your own kids is sucking up bandwidth without you realizing it. (If so, here’s how to kick them off).

Once you find the intruder and remedy the problem, secure your network with a strong password—preferably WPA2, as WEP is notoriously easy to crack—so others can’t join in.

Control Quality

Most modern routers come with Quality of Service (QoS) tools to limit the amount of bandwidth that apps use, like the Netgear menu below.

For example, you could use QoS to prioritize video calls over file downloads—that way, your call with grandma won’t drop just because someone else is grabbing a big file from Dropbox. (Sure, their file will take longer, but grandma is more important.) Some QoS settings even allow you to prioritize different apps at different times of day.

QoS settings can typically be found under advanced settings in the network’s administrator interface. Some routers may even make it easier by offering a one-click multimedia or gaming setting, so you know those applications will be prioritized. If you’re trying to stream games while sharing a network, there are steps you can take to make things better.

Replace Your Antenna

If your router uses an internal antenna, adding an external one would be a good idea, as the latter tends to send a stronger signal. Your router may have come with antennas you can add on yourself, but if not (or if you threw them away long ago), many router manufacturers sell antennas separately.

In many cases, you can choose between omnidirectional antennas, which send a signal to all directions, or directional ones, which send a signal in one specific direction. Most built-in antennas tend to be omnidirectional, so if you are buying an external one, it should be marked «high-gain» to actually make a difference.

Recommended by Our Editors

A directional antenna tends to be a better option, since odds are that you aren’t experiencing weak spots in your network in every direction. Point your external antenna in the direction of your weak spot, and it will broadcast the signal accordingly. Check your router manufacturer’s website for details on what to buy.

Upgrade Your Obsolete Hardware

It’s a good idea to get the most out of your existing equipment, but if you’re running old hardware, you can’t expect the best performance. We have a tendency to subscribe to the «if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it» mentality with back-end devices, especially networking gear. However, if you bought your router years ago, you might still be using the older, slower 802.11n standard (or God forbid, 802.11g).

Older routers may cap at fairly low bandwidths, and may even have shorter ranges. Thus, all the tweaking we’ve outlined above will only get you so far—the maximum throughput for 802.11g is 54Mbps, while 802.11n caps out at 300Mbps. The latest 802.11ac supports 1Gbps, while next-gen Wi-Fi 6 routers can theoretically hit 10Gbps. Our list of the best wireless routers is a good place to start the search for a faster router.

Even if your router is new, you might have some ancient devices that are falling back to older, slower standards. If you bought a PC within the last couple of years, you likely have an 802.11ac wireless adapter, or at least 802.11n. But the older your devices, the less likely they are to have modern tech built in. (You might be able to buy a USB Wi-Fi adapter that makes things a bit better on those old machines, though.)

Remember, a higher-quality router won’t just support those faster standards—it’ll also do all the things we’ve outlined above better. It’ll have better channel selection, perform better band steering for 5GHz devices, and include better QoS features.

Others may have features like Multi User-Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO), like the Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200 Smart WiFi Router. MU-MIMO routers can send and receive multiple data streams simultaneously to multiple devices without bandwidth degradation and require specialized testing with multiple clients, but the clients need to be MU-MIMO compatible.

If you do end up buying a new router, the setup process won’t be too scary. We have a guide on how to set up and configure the device.

Reach Further With a Range Extender or Mesh Wi-Fi System

Some newer routers may have better range than your old beater, but in many homes, you may still not get the range you need. If the network has to cover an area larger than the router is capable of transmitting to, or if there are lots of corners to go around and walls to penetrate, performance will inevitably take a hit.

If all of the above tips fail, it’s possible that your house is just too big for a single router to send a good signal everywhere. If you want to extend your signal beyond what the router is capable, you’ll need a range extender of some sort.

Typical range extenders receive a signal from your router, then rebroadcast it to your devices, and vice-versa. However, while they’re inexpensive, they’re often not as effective as mesh Wi-Fi systems, which replace your existing router entirely. Instead of merely repeating a router’s signal, multiple units work together to intelligently route traffic back to your modem, blanketing your house in a single Wi-Fi network that reaches everywhere you need.

When setting up these mesh points, you should still use the same rules for figuring out placement: one node will be connected to your modem, and each of the other nodes should be close enough to pick up a solid signal, while still far enough to extend coverage to your dead zones.

The traditional downside to Wi-Fi mesh systems has been that they’re generally more expensive than simply adding a range extender to your existing router. However, we expect to see that change in 2021, spurred by Amazon’s Eero 6 and Eero Pro 6 announced in late 2020. These new mesh entries are coming in around $100 to $200 less than much of their mesh competition while offering not only Wi-Fi 6 compatibility, but even a Zigbee smart home device hub built into the main router.

Even with a mesh system, however, note that you may still incur some performance loss on the far ends of your house, especially if your Wi-Fi has to make multiple “hops”—again, placing the main unit in the center of your house is best, and connecting the nodes with Ethernet will produce the best results. Trust me: if you truly want problem-free Wi-Fi, it’s worth having an electrician run a couple of Ethernet cables to each mesh unit, because in my experience, anything else is a compromise that may or may not measure up to your standards.

Mesh Wi-Fi Systems aren’t cheap, especially if you have a large home, which will require multiple nodes. However, if you’re in the market for a new router anyway, they’re absolutely worth considering as an alternative. Here’s our guide on setting one up.

(If you’re tech-savvy, you might be able to save some money by setting up a few cheaper-but-more-complex Ubiquiti UniFi Lite access points.)

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20 Ways to Boost Your WiFi Signal

how to boost your WiFi signal

These days, slow WiFi is more than just frustrating. You might be working from home and need to make important Skype calls. Or maybe you just want to watch a movie on Netflix without buffering. Either way, you shouldn’t have to settle for slow WiFi. Here are several ways to boost your WiFi signal, so you can enjoy fast connectivity throughout your home.

Do a WiFi Speed Test

Before you start tinkering with your router or upgrading your hardware, you should do a quick speed test to see how fast your WiFi really is. You can easily do this on your computer or smartphone by going to HelloTech.com/Speed and clicking Go.

How to Test WiFi Speed

Once you have your speed test results, compare them with your internet plan. If your download and upload speeds are much lower than what you are paying for, there might be something slowing down your WiFi. However, it is important to note that most internet service providers (such as Comcast, Charter, and Cox) advertise downloads speed that you won’t be able to achieve under normal circumstances.

If you want to know more about how to do a WiFi speed test and what your speeds test results mean, check out our article here.

Reboot Your Router and Modem

The first thing you should do when your WiFi connection slows down is to reboot your router and modem. Rebooting your router and modem will reset your connection, which could instantly boost your WiFi signal.

You can easily reboot your router and modem by unplugging them for 60 seconds. However, this can change the IP addresses of your connected devices, which means you might have to reconnect them to your WiFi network afterward.

Reposition Your Router’s Antennas

If your router has adjustable antennas, you shouldn’t position them all straight up and down. A WiFi signal emanates outward from the antennas, so you can boost your signal by pointing them in different directions.

Alf Watt, a former Apple WiFi engineer, says you should point your antennas so they are perpendicular to each another. In an interview with Mac Observer, Watt also says that certain devices, like some MacBooks, receive WiFi signals horizontally, while others receive WiFi signals vertically.

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Positioning your router’s antennas perpendicular to each other will also help if you live in a multi-story home. This way, you can cover one floor with the horizontal signal, and the other floors will be covered by the vertical signal.

You can also place your router’s antennas at a 45-60-degree angle, pointing in opposite directions. If you have more than two antennas, you should spread them all out in different directions.

Move Your Router

Since your router sends WiFi signals out in all directions, you should place it in a central location to get the best signal throughout your home. WiFi signals also get absorbed by walls, so you should place your router out in the open.

You can also boost your WiFi signal by placing your router in an elevated position. However, you want to avoid placing your router near any metal objects, like your fridge. This is because WiFi signals tend to bounce off metal surfaces instead of passing through them. You should also avoid placing your router near a fish tank, pool, or tub because water absorbs WiFi signals.

To find out more about the best place to put your WiFi router, check out our article here.

Use a Strong WiFi Password

Using a strong WiFi password keeps your neighbors from stealing your WiFi and hogging up all your bandwidth. If you have an open network or a weak WiFi password, hackers can also breach your network and steal your personal information, such as your bank details.

Use a Strong WiFi Password

To keep your WiFi network secure, you can log in to your router to change the default usernames and passwords of your WiFi networks. If you’re not sure how to do this, check out our guide on how to log in to your router and change its password.

Change Your Router’s Security Settings

After you log in to your router, you can also boost your WiFi signal by changing your security settings. If your router gives you the option, you should use WPA2 (WiFi Protected Access 2) security. If not, you can use WPA.

Updating your security settings to WPA2 can actually double or triple your WiFi speeds, especially if you’ve been using WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) security. WPA2 is the fastest of the encryption protocols, while WEP is the slowest.

wep vs wpa2

To find out more about how to set your WiFi security protocols, check out our article here.

Use the 5 GHz Frequency Band

If you have a dual-band router, you can use the 2.4 GHz (gigahertz) or 5 GHz frequency bands. These bands each have their own WiFi network names and passwords. By default, most routers label these networks with a 5 or a 2 at the end of their names.

With the 2.4 GHz band, you’ll get a weak WiFi signal that has a long range. So, this band should be reserved for devices that are far away from your router. It is also the best band to use for devices that don’t use up much bandwidth, such as smart home devices.

With the 5 GHz band, you’ll get a stronger WiFi signal with a shorter range. Using this band will instantly boost your WiFi signal, but it also means you’ll have to be closer to your router to get a good WiFi signal.

While it might be tempting to use the 5 GHz band on all your devices, that could slow your WiFi down. To get the best signal, you should only use the 5GHz band with a few devices at once. Then switch all of your other devices over to the 2.4 GHz band. This way, all of your devices won’t be competing for traffic on the same band.

If you want to know more about the difference between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, check out our article here.

Change Your WiFi Channel

Each WiFi frequency band is also split up into different channels. The 2.4 GHz band has up to 14 channels to choose from, while the 5 GHz band has up to 25 channels. The channels on the 2.4 GHz band are also smaller and overlap with each other.

Most routers choose a default channel for you, which means it is often the most crowded channel. When too many routers are using the same channel, it can slow your WiFi connection down, especially if you live in a densely populated area. So, it is important to switch to the least crowded channel in your router’s settings.

If you are using the 2.4 GHz band, you can boost your WiFi speed by switching to channels 1, 6, or 11. These are the only three non-overlapping channels. If you are using the 5 GHz band, you might want to choose channels 36, 40, 44, or 48, which are used for domestic purposes. However, you might want to use a program like NetSpot to find the least crowded channel in your area.

how to boost wifi signal

To learn how to find the best WiFi channel, and how to change your WiFi channel, check out our step-by-step guide here.

Change Your Router’s QoS Settings

Some routers have Quality of Service (QoS) settings, which allows you to set priority levels for apps, devices, or certain kinds of traffic. This is a great way to control bandwidth-hungry apps from slowing down your WiFi.

For instance, you can set your computer to have priority over your other devices. This way, you can ensure that your Skype calls won’t get dropped because someone else starts streaming a 4K movie downstairs.

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Most older routers won’t have QoS settings, while newer router will let you set specific bandwidth caps for any devices, apps, or programs. Check your router’s manual or the manufacturer’s online documentation to see what kind of QoS settings are available on your device, and how you can access them.

Update Your Router’s Firmware

Updating your router’s firmware ensures you’re using the latest security features on your network. It will also help repair bugs and fix connectivity issues, which can significantly boost your WiFi signal.

The steps for updating your router’s firmware will depend on what kind of router you have. Some routers will update automatically, while others require you to download a file from the manufacturer’s website. Then you would need to upload that file in your router’s settings page.

If you need help, check out our guide on how to update your router’s firmware.

Update Your Computer’s Drivers

Your computer has network drivers that allow you to connect to the internet. While Windows and Mac computers both push out the latest version of your drivers with each system update, there may be times when your drivers go out of date.

To update your drivers on a Windows 10 PC, open the Windows search box by clicking the magnifying glass icon in the bottom-left corner of your screen. Then type Device Manager into the search bar and click Open. In the Device Manager menu, right-click on the network adapter you want to update and choose Update Driver.

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All you have to do on a Mac is open System Preferences and click Software Update. If you see a button that says Update Now, select it. If you don’t see this option, your drivers are already up-to-date.

Change Your DNS

Your internet service provider assigns you a DNS (Domain Name System) address by default, which converts domain names into IP addresses. But, you might be able to boost your WiFi speed by using a third-party service instead.

If you are able to change your DNS address in your router’s settings, you might want to consider using Google’s DNS server at 8.8.8.8 or Cloudflare’s DNS server at 1.1.1.1. Then, using Google’s DNS server, you should add 8.8.4.4 as the secondary DNS address, or 1.0.0.1 for Cloudflare.

how to boost wifi signal

If your router lets you add a third DNS address, you can choose the primary address for the other DNS server. For example, you can use 8.8.8.8 if you used Cloudflare’s primary and secondary DNS addresses in the first two lines.

Use a WiFi Adapter

If you are experiencing slow WiFi speeds on your computer, you might want to invest in a WiFi adapter. All you have to do is plug this device into your computer’s USB port, and it can instantly upgrade your built-in WiFi capabilities.

Using a WiFi adapter is the cheapest and easiest way to boost your WiFi speed, especially if you have an older computer. You can easily triple your WiFi speeds with a WiFi adapter, and it can even give your computer the ability to use both frequency bands.

However, your WiFi adapter will only be as good as your router, so you should only get a WiFi adapter if you have a newer router.

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