Tech Talker shows you more easy ways to boost the range and strength of your WiFi signal -- without spending a ton.
In Part 1 of this series, we talked about some free and easy ways that you can boost the WiFi signal in your home.
In this week’s episode, I will be covering some more advanced ways you can boost your WiFi if the tips I mentioned in Part 1 didn’t do the trick.
Change the Channel
As I mentioned before, WiFi uses radio waves to communicate. These radio waves use 2.4ghz or 5ghz and from there the router breaks up this signal into 14 different channels, much like walkie talkies. If you’ve ever tried to share a walkie talkie channel with someone else, you know how annoying it is! You’re not sure who is talking to whom, or what the conversation is actually about.
This is the same thing with routers. If you are in a neighborhood or apartment complex that has a lot of wireless connections, I would suggest digging into the options of the router and trying some different channels out to see if it helps improve your signal. Depending on which router you have, this can be done in a variety of ways. So Google your model number or referring to your owner’s manual for instructions.
The next and probably best option I’ve discovered for optimizing your router is a new type of firmware. I talked about updating your firmware in Part 1 of this series, but in some cases however there are other types of firmware you can download to your router that can unlock its potential.
If you’re scratching your head about this, let me explain it this way. Pretend you had a blender with one speed, this is similar to your off-the-shelf router. Installing a custom firmware would be like giving your blender speed controls for purée, milkshake, consommé, and a ton of other features.
So what can you do with this firmware? Well, you can actually boost the amount of power at which your router broadcasts. You can also add extra security features and even set up your router as a repeater. If you’re not sure what a repeater is, it is basically a second router that boosts your existing wireless network.
I’ll go more into this firmware business in a blog post later this week, but for now just keep it in the back of your mind. If you want to do some research or want to see if your router is compatible with custom firmware, check out DD-WRT.com, Tomato, and OpenWRT.
Okay so at this point I’ve exhausted my free and DIY tips (which as you know are my favorite).
If your router has an external antenna, it might be worth trying to replace it. There are a ton of great options for antenna upgrades that can really help to boost your signal. In college I did a little experiment with a directional antenna, and I was able to pick up internet from the library on campus which was over half a mile away. Granted, I took this to the extreme and there was also nothing between me and the library that would cause interference (like a building). However, upgrading your antenna can be a relatively cheap way to really boost the range of your WiFi.
Here are some great antenna options:
There may come a time when you might just have to e-recycle that old router of yours and replace it. I recently did this and I’m wondering why I didn’t do it sooner. If you’re curious as to what it is I bought, or what I would buy, here are my recommendations based upon what I own or have used. If you would like to know why I’ve picked certain routers and what features I look for, be sure to shoot me an email and you might see it as a future episode!
Here are your 4 Quick and Dirty Tips for boosting your WiFi signal:
Try changing the channel that your router broadcasts from.
See if your router is compatible with an open sourced firmware such as DD-WRT, Tomato, or OpenWRT.
Try upgrading your antenna.
If all else fails, get a new router!
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!