Tech Talker shows you some easy ways to boost the range and strength of your WiFi!
I’ve had a few listeners write in all with the same question: “How can I get better WiFi reception?” Ask and you shall receive! In this week’s episode I’ll be going over just how WiFi works and some quick (and free) fixes that might just take your WiFi signal from glacial to supersonic.
And next week, in Part 2 of this WiFi series, I’ll follow up with an episode on some more advanced techniques you can use to boost your signal if the tips I mentioned today don’t quite cut it.
What Is WiFi?
Now, let’s just do a quick overview. Wireless fidelity or WiFi is how devices such as laptops and smartphones connect to the internet. Sounds simple, right? Well, actually, there’s a lot more to it.
What exactly is Wi-Fi? Well, it’s a radio wave that transmits on a 2.4 or 5 gigahertz frequency. Radio waves can go through many objects such as walls, but these impediments decrease the strength of the signal. Imagine you’re playing with a cheap pair of children’s walkie talkies. If you’re using them outside, the range is pretty good, but the moment you take them inside, you’ll start to pick up interference. This is the same case with your router, only routers are always getting interference while in the house.
So the real question is what blocks WiFi signals? Well, everything does to an extent, but the main culprits are concrete, metal, chicken wire, and stone. There are many other elements that can cause signal blockage, but the simple rule of thumb is the more metallic or dense the material, the more it blocks WiFi.
Location, Location, Location!
One of the best ways to boost your WiFi signal is to position your router optimally. What I mean by this is that you’ll want your router to be centrally located to where you use your wireless devices most often. You’ll want to keep it up high, and preferably towards the center of your house. For me though, this has always been a problem because the only working outlet for the internet is in the far back corner of my home, which would put my router in a less than optimal location. The way I got around that is I moved my router from the floor to an elevated position on the book shelf. Just think how much more clutter there is on the floor to block a signal than there is on the ceiling of a room. It made a huge difference in my WiFi experience.
If you’re like me and can’t really move your router to a central location, you’ll want to move as many obstructions as possible from the direct path of your router. For example, my router used be right next to my computer which has a metallic case, I simply moved my computer case and boom - the signal jumped much higher because there was no longer a metal sheet blocking it.
The next tip might push you a little bit outside your technical comfort zone, but that’s what I’m here for! If you’ve had a router for a while, it might be worth checking to see if there is a firmware update for your router. This essentially updates the software in your router which might make it perform more efficiently. To check out if this is the case, try looking at the manual that came with your router or Googling the model of your router followed by the keyword “firmware.” This should bring up a website with the most current version of your router’s firmware and should provide instruction on how to download it.
Another super easy way to boost your WiFi signal is to play with the antenna of your router. Some routers will have internal antennas and if this is the case for you, then you can ignore this tip. But if your router does have one or more antennas, try moving them in different configurations and see if that makes a difference.
If you have an antenna, I found an awesome DIY method for boosting WiFi signal to one area of the house. All you need is a printer, scissors, tape, and some aluminum foil. Basically you’ll be making a mini parabolic satellite dish that will allow you to direct your WiFi signal. Don’t worry, it’s much easier than it sounds. Just print the template, cut out the two shapes, cover them in aluminum foil, and attach them to your router. It takes about 10 minutes to make and can have a dramatic effect on your WiFi signal. When I used it at my house, my signal went up by two bars even at the far corner of the home.
Last but not least, check out what type of cordless phones you have in your house (not cell phones). Many new portable house phones use the same frequency as WiFi which can cause signal disruption. Just check the packaging of your phone and if it’s 2.4ghz or 5ghz, then that could be the reason for your wobbly WiFi.
Here are your Quick and Dirty Tips for boosting your WiFi signal:
Move your router to a central location that is high up off the ground.
Move any obstructions, especially metal objects, out of the way because they might block the signal.
Check and download a firmware update for your router.
If your router has an antenna try adjusting it, or create your own super-cool DIY signal booster.
Keep in mind that this week’s episode covers the quick and easy methods to improve your WiFi signal. Next week I’ll be digging a little deeper to uncover more technical fixes for this problem.
Well, that’s it for today! Be sure to check out all my earlier episodes at techtalker.quickanddirtytips.com. And if you have further questions about this podcast or want to make a suggestion for a future episode, post your comments on the Tech Talker Facebook page.
Until next time, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple!