Setting up a fast, stable Wi-Fi network in your home can be the difference between smiles and frowns. Speakers, TVs, gaming consoles, printers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and a plethora of additional wireless accessories are all competing for a precious slice of your home network’s bandwidth. Don’t let a sluggish network or wireless “dead spots” get your household down. Below are a few ways you can make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck when it comes to Wi-Fi performance.
Tip #1: Out With The Old, In With The New
If you’re running an older 802.11b/g/n router, the first thing you should do is upgrade. 802.11ac is leaps and bounds faster than older wireless standards. This new technology offers data transfer speeds up to 3x faster than 802.11bgn, and boasts the ability to unclutter your network.
In addition to faster speeds, most new 802.11ac routers offer the ability to enable “dual-band” functionality. A router that lets you create simultaneous dual-band networks can free up channels and bandwidth for many of your devices. 802.11b/g/n devices run on the 2.4 GHz frequency, while newer 802.11ac-enabled devices operate on the 5 GHz spectrum. The 2.4 GHz band has become saturated with many older wireless devices featuring 802.11b/g/n technology. By creating a network that simultaneously supports both frequencies, you can decrease interference and increase network performance.
Tip #2: Router Positioning
Proper router placement plays a huge role in your network performance. A general rule of thumb is to position the router in a central, open part of your home in order to optimize the network’s reach. Mobile apps like CloudCheck can pinpoint wireless dead zones in your home as well as highlighting where your signal is the strongest. By combining these tools with common sense (i.e. don’t put your router between two brick walls), you can determine the ideal position for your wireless access point. You may also be able to manipulate the antennas on your router to achieve additional wireless coverage.
Tip #3: Change The Channel
Depending on the band options your router offers (2.4 GHz vs. 5 GHz), you may have some options when it comes to freeing up channels. There are several tools on the market that can help you determine which channels are experiencing the most interference, and which ones are free. Most routers feature 11 usable channels, so you may be able to optimize your connection by choosing a channel that isn’t being overwhelmed by interference from devices such as microwaves, phones, or Bluetooth peripherals.
Tip #4: Lock Down Your Bandwidth
An unsecure wireless network means that anyone in the vicinity of your access point can use your Wi-Fi. Unsecured networks can get bogged down by unwanted (or unknown) bandwidth hogs. For instance, your neighbors may be connecting to your network and streaming HD movies without your knowledge. This added traffic can turn your bandwidth to sludge in a hurry, so enabling WPA2 security settings for your Wi-Fi network is key to creating a good experience for everyone on your network.
Tip #5: Extend Your Network
If you have an extra 802.11ac or an older 802.11n router lying around, you may be able to use it as a wireless bridge or repeater to extend your network. Keep in mind, your results may vary when attempting this, but it is a viable option in certain situations. By positioning an additional router within the range of the base router, you may be able to provide Wi-Fi signal to parts of your home where it wasn’t previously possible. Depending on your configuration (type of router, internet speed, type of connected devices, etc.), the bridge may not offer a lightning-fast connection, but it will extend coverage.
For more information on how to get the most out of your Wi-Fi, check out our 802.11ac wireless resources.