A simple online search for any Wi-Fi-related queries will show you that variants of “how to improve Wi-Fi signal” or “how to improve Wi-Fi speed” are commonly asked questions, ones that you’ve probably mulled over too.
Fortunately, knowing how to optimize Wi-Fi networks for the best results is not some esoteric knowledge reserved just for those who like geeking out over hardware and technology.
In this article, we’ll run down what affects your speed, how to increase it, optimal configuration settings, network options (such as the Wi-Fi extenders), and best practices to ensure improved Wi-Fi signal, as well as links to product recommendations for some of the best routers out there according to your needs.
Why Do Wi-Fi Signals Fluctuate?
Even the best long-range Wi-Fi routers can arguably be made less effective by improper placement or just having one too many devices connected – the latter affecting some of the top-of-the-line gaming routers, too.
Wi-Fi signal is ultimately “shared” not only between devices but also between tasks going on between all these devices.
This means that if someone’s downloading a heavy file somewhere on the same floor as you, you might struggle to get good quality for streaming Netflix or worse – interruptions in your Zoom conference call.
Knowing how to improve Wi-Fi speed in your house or office through simple and effective checks that anyone can perform saves your time and money, even making the best budget routers their most effective.
On one hand, it’s infuriating, inconvenient, and inefficient when Wi-Fi acts up, but it’s even more time-consuming to seek out advice which might be increasingly difficult in-person post-2020, perhaps even to find that the problems are recurring even as numerous “fixes” are applied.
The knowledge of how to improve Wi-Fi signals is important to correct a lot of problems from the source instead of tinkering with individual devices. Without this understanding, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to water each individual leaf, as the analogy goes, instead of watering the root.
Many problems can even “fix themselves” as the Wi-Fi is better optimized, which might otherwise be perceived to be problems with specific devices or software and apps, which might or might not be consistent or sporadic.
Refresh Your Devices
Barring external interference, keeping your devices in check is a fantastic way to ensure your signal is as strong as can be. External interference can come either from other networks or from the website or app itself in the form of “peak hours” where loads of people are connecting at once.
A good idea is to turn off devices that are connected to the Internet, or put them in Airplane Mode when they aren’t being used. Before logging out, clear the cookies and cache in the browser of your choice, as well as making sure to exit apps that consume data in the background such as streaming apps.
Restarting devices periodically, or shutting them off for a few minutes before restarting them, is also good to do from time to time especially if your devices are prone to overheating (themselves or the environment), particularly for the Wi-Fi gateway itself.
The value of keeping devices updated can also not be understated. However, turning off auto-updates and setting aside a specific time to download and install them is recommended, lest your Internet connection is suddenly choked when you least expect it.
Specifically, updating your router’s firmware is extremely important – more on this in our next section of best practices.
A Checklist To Ensure Maximum Wi-Fi Speed
- Learn more about the QoS settings of your router and adjust them accordingly to prioritize certain important tasks over others.
- Updated router firmware is key. In many cases, sluggish Wi-Fi is the result of outdated router firmware. Regularly checking for and installing updates for your router ensures maximum security, the latest features, optimum performance. Routers can either update automatically, or, depending on your model or manufacturer, you can go to the settings/admin panel and update directly from there, or download a file from the manufacturer and upload it manually to the admin panel.
- Prefer the 5GHz band/channel wherever possible.
- Don’t place your Wi-Fi in the line of fire. In a lot of cases, a weak Wi-Fi signal is simply a case of poor placement for your router or gateway. Placing it in a far-away corner, even if logistically easy or simple, is not logistically smart. Routers should be placed away from walls, metals, as well as other routers and devices that can cause interference with the signal, such as Bluetooth devices, smartphones, or cordless phones.
- Think about or invest in a Wi-Fi extender or mesh system. These allow a single Wi-Fi signal to be replicated or boosted throughout a large area. Different spaces need different combinations of these, so it helps to do some preliminary research to understand your needs better. For most people, families, and organizations, these are ever-growing as necessities.
- Learn the basics of router setup and configuration to make sure no settings are conflicting with each other to cause conflict and unnecessary load on the network.
Router care is key to good Internet and getting the most out of the Internet you pay for.
While there are all sorts of complex discussions to be had for slow Wi-Fi connections, here’s a summary of some important areas in the field of knowing how to optimize Wi-Fi networks for yourself and others:
- Remember to keep the gateway refreshed by restarting it now and then.
- Remove obstructions and other devices that can interfere with the signals – microwaves, radio devices such as baby monitors, or metals.
- Wi-Fi devices (especially if Wi-Fi extenders are used to boost coverage and signals, as they are recommended to) should be close to the gateway, with the gateway in a central location itself, ideally in an upright position, higher up on a wall or from the floor.
- Wherever possible, prefer wired connection ports; reserving the Wi-Fi router for smart devices (home assistants, smartphones, and so on).