If you’re still working or studying from home for a while longer, here’s how to boost wifi signal at home and get your internet up to speed, finally. Some internet service providers have have increased speeds for low-income customers while others have suspended broadband data caps. Sure, that makes the internet to your front door less of a bottleneck, but eliminating subpar speeds and Wi-Fi dead zones around the house is largely up to you. ClickAway provides a wide range of network installation and repair services in your home should you prefer to have us do this quickly for you.
Tips to boost wifi signal at home
Move Your Router
That router in the closet? Not a good idea. Walls, cupboards, even bookshelves can potentially dampen your Wi-Fi signal. Physically moving the router can make a real difference to the speeds you get and how far its wireless transmissions can reach. The perfect spot will depend on your home, but try not to hide your router in a corner, or under a cupboard, or inside a drawer—the more central and prominent it is, the better.
You might need to apply some creative cabling to get your router in a better place, but it’s going to be worth the effort for the end results. Yes, ClickAway also does cabling work inside homes and businesses should you need our help. The goal is to get your main devices—consoles, laptops, and so on—as close as possible to your router. Devices that don’t need quite so much bandwidth, like smart thermostats, don’t have to be a priority in terms of physical proximity.
If you don’t have a flat surface near the best spot, you can mount your router halfway up a wall. If possible, keep it away from other devices that use electromagnetic waves; that includes baby monitors, wireless keyboards, and even microwaves.
Use an Ethernet Cable
We sometimes forget: wires still exist! You don’t need Wi-Fi. A wired connection to your router is usually preferable to a wireless one. It’s faster and more stable, and can’t be affected by other devices or large fish tanks. The downside is, of course, that it limits where your devices can be, and it’s less convenient overall.
Still, for devices that need the fastest internet possible—a gaming console or a streaming box, for example—it’s often well worth the effort to run a wire. The router will have a handful of Ethernet ports to spare, so all you need is a cable.
To do a really tidy job and avoid having wires trailing across your floor, you’ll need to deploy some cable management. Wall brackets keep the Ethernet cable fixed to the walls. If you have several cables running the same direction adhesive wall mounts work well. For one or two gadgets, it can be worth the extra setup.
Change the Channel or Band
Wi-Fi signal is divided into channels. Your router uses a particular Wi-Fi channel to communicate with the devices around your home, and if you have neighbors living very close who have routers using the same Wi-Fi channel, then everything can get congested quickly. Switching to a different channel can solve this problem.
Upgrade Your Router
Routers vary significantly in functionality and price, but in this case the upgrade to make is generally in terms of how far your Wi-Fi is broadcast. If you have a large house, you’re likely better off with a router that can pair with “repeaters” that broadcast signal into the furthest reaches of your home. Smaller homes and apartments can generally get by with a simpler system. For larger homes we recommend a mesh network, where you install multiple router nodes around your house. ClickAway always has several brands of routers and mesh networks in stock.
Get a Wi-Fi Extender
If messing around with your router settings seems too daunting, and you have a few dollars spare, invest in a Wi-Fi extender or repeater. These devices plug into a spare wall socket, connect to the wireless internet getting beamed out by your router, and then extend it further.
They’re (usually) simple to set up, easy to use, and can instantly get rid of Wi-Fi dead zones in your house. The extended or repeated wireless signals won’t be as strong as the ones coming straight from your router, though, so again positioning is important. Try and use these devices to connect up gadgets that don’t need a huge amount of bandwidth.
Use Your Electrical Wiring
An alternative to extenders is a powerline kit. Digital signals can pass through electrical wiring, and powerline devices are designed to take advantage of this. Several manufacturers make powerline networking kits, including Netgear and TP-Link.
It works like this: You connect a powerline plug up to your router, and then put the plug into a wall socket. Add another powerline plug in any other room in your house, and it can then provide a wired or wireless connection to that room. There will be some drop in speed, but it’s a simple and effective option.
Unless your home is particularly old, it should have electrical wiring that supports this, but it’s best to buy your kit from a retailer with a robust return policy, just in case.
Password Your Wi-Fi
We probably don’t have to tell you this, but you need a password on your Wi-Fi. It’s good for keeping hackers away, and keeping neighbors from Netflixing off your bandwidth, which will definitely slow you down. Make sure you use AES encryption, which is both the most secure and most speed-friendly security option.
Cut Off Unused Devices
It also helps boost wifi signal at home by reducing the number of devices on your network. Having dozens of things tapping into the Wi-Fi at once can be problematic. Plug anything you can into Ethernet, and unplug anything you have connected but don’t need (like that “smart” tea kettle you never once got to work). Make sure only the things that need internet get internet.
Good routers (all of the routers listed above for example) offer controls to prioritize a particular device or service. It’s a handy way to make sure your games never get interrupted by someone else streaming videos on Facebook.
Check Your PC
This tip is specific to computers: If the internet on your PC or laptop is perpetually slow, but other devices seem fine, open your Task Manager or Activity Monitor and see what programs are running in the background. Certain programs could be set to auto-update that don’t need to be. If they’re always updating in the background, that could be the cause of your slow internet. Check it out and adjust the settings.
Restart Your Router?
We’ve read this tip many times on the web, but we were skeptical. Restarting your router on a regular basis sounds like an extension of the age-old pseudosolution to everything digital: Reboot it. Yes, we know restarting your router can sometimes fix dead internet, but we asked router maker Netgear: Does regularly rebooting your router help boost wifi signal at home? The short answer is probably not.
Call Your ISP
If you’ve tried it all, and still unable to boost wifi signal at home, you can always reach out to your internet provider and see if they have any suggestions. They may want to send a service technician out. They might be able to pinpoint an overlooked issue that is getting in the way of you and fast Wi-Fi. With the ongoing coronavirus situation, you may not want strangers in your house, and your ISP may not have technicians available to send. Still, if none of the rest of these tips solves your problem, it’s time to reach out to your provider to ask some questions.
Give ClickAway a call with any questions to help you boost wifi signal at home. One of our network technicians will be happy to take a look.