Slow Wi-Fi speeds are the top complaint among internet users according to recent consumer research. Most American families are working from home, kids having their online classes and online video games, and watching their favorite movies and TV shows on popular TV streaming services like Sling TV and more. With that in mind, here are six tips that can help improve your wireless connections.
1. Test Your Internet Speed
Use a free service like Speedtest.net to test your wireless internet speed. Test it using a device connected via Ethernet, and compare that result against what you should be getting based on what you are paying for. If that checks out, test again using several different wireless devices, such as your phone, tablet and laptop. The goal here is to determine whether you actually have a Wi-Fi problem or the issues are specific to particular devices. Be mindful that Wi-Fi will be slower than Ethernet to some degree.
2. Power Cycle Your Router
Have you tried turning it off and on again is a meme. It is also solid advice when it comes to your router. Routers are essentially mini-PCs that are often running around the clock. Aspects of the software can crash, and caching problems are quite common as well. To power cycle your router, unplug it, and wait at least 30 seconds. It is a good idea to power cycle your router at least once a month.
3. Update Your Router Firmware
If that did not work, then check if there is a firmware update for your router, which is something that you should ideally do once a month. The main reason to do this is to protect yourself against security vulnerabilities, but these software updates can also improve the performance of your equipment.
4. Try Different Channels
Most routers these days are dual band: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Ensure that both bands are enabled. Typically, devices that have access to the 5 GHz band should use it, but the 2.4 GHz band does provide better range and better penetration of solid objects and thus may be worth a try in some scenarios.
You should also try changing your Wi-Fi channel. The 2.4 GHz band has 11 channels. The 5 GHz band has 45 channels. Most modern routers will detect the optimal channel and automatically set it. However, there is the potential for interference when multiple routers in the same area are using the same channel. Channels 1, 6 and 11 have no overlap and are recommended to try first.
5. Optimize Router Positioning
At this point, you need to consider whether your router is in its ideal position. Each home is unique, which usually makes it impossible to tell without some trial and error. Generally, you want the router to be in a central location and in an elevated position. As best as possible, avoid windows, walls and any obstacles. Also, avoid interference and noise, such as from cordless phones and Bluetooth speakers.
6. Adjust the Router Antennas
Internal antennas are becoming more commonplace, and if your router has them, you can skip this step. If yours has external antennas, you can try adjusting them and perhaps upgrading them. Router manufacturers recommend a 45-degree angle or having the antennas running parallel to the floor. Try those positions first. If the signal does not improve, try other positions. If your antennas are detachable, you may want to consider an antenna upgrade, which are relatively inexpensive.
Upgrading Your Router
Something else to consider is a router upgrade. If your router is cheap or old, then an upgrade can make a significant difference. Home routers have come a long way in a short while. If your router is good and new, then it may be issues with the layout of your home. You may want to try improving the signal with an extender or a repeater or perhaps upgrading to a mesh network.