Your WiFi network allows you to get online and access the internet from your computer, laptop, smartphone, and other smart devices anywhere from within your home, without having to connect each device to a tangled mass of cables.
WiFi is arguably one of the most important and useful technologies you can have in your home, but it can also be incredibly frustrating when it slows to a crawl just as you’re finishing a work project or trying to send a file. This can drive even the calmest of people to contemplating throwing their router out of the window. Before you do that, though, read on, because it is possible to boost your Wi-Fi connection and speed up your home network, and not destroying your router will save you a lot of money!
How to speed up your home WiFi network and improve your internet experience
1. Check your internet speed
If your WiFi signal seems to be weak – that is, if you have trouble getting a good connection from some rooms in your house – the first thing you should do is conduct a speed test. This will show your download and upload speeds which you can use as a reference point for measuring how effective the following methods are for you.
Visit a website such as Speed Test and click Begin, you will soon be shown your download and upload speeds.
2. Find a good place for your router
If you want the best WiFi signal, you should place your router out in the open, if possible in the center of your home without walls or furniture obstructing it. Although a router isn’t the prettiest of things, you should avoid hiding it behind objects and furniture that could hinder the signal.
Your router’s placement is often dictated by where your internet connection enters your home, but by purchasing a longer ethernet cable and some clips to hold the cable in place, you can place it in a more prominent part of your home. To maximize the benefits of router placement, arrange the antenna perpendicularly, with one pointing vertically and the other horizontally.
3) Change your Wi-Fi channel
When your router is initially set up, it detects the least crowded channel and uses it, making it the routers default channel. But, as the area around your home becomes more crowded, the channel can begin to fill up, which can slow you down.
Tools such as NirSoft can analyze the WiFi spectrum and feed back details about your home network, including channel utilization, which can help you decide whether or not to change to a less populated one.
Your internet service provider should have a step-by-step guide on how you can change to a different WiFi channel, as the process can vary.
4. Update your router’s firmware
Problems with your WiFi network can be as simple as your router just needing an update. In fact, manufacturers are constantly tweaking software to make slight improvements to router performance, and you could be a few (or, probably a lot of) updates behind.
Updating your router’s firmware can vary greatly in difficulty depending upon your device’s manufacturer, but most modern routers have an update function built into the router’s administrator panel, so it is just a case of pressing a button and waiting. It is worth mentioning that some older models still require you to find and download the router’s firmware from the manufacturer’s website… it can be quite tedious, but it can make a huge difference.
Here is a guide by NETGEAR, a leading manufacturer of wireless routers.
5. Control applications with high bandwidth usage
Video chatting, online gaming and streaming video (yes, that includes Netflix) can hog bandwidth and significantly slow down the internet for everybody else, especially if you’ve got somebody in your house who regularly uses the internet for these purposes.
There is a solution known as a QoS (Quality of Service), which can give priority to certain applications over others, and bandwidth is allocated accordingly. This is only relevant to people who have lower-level broadband packages, where you perhaps do not have as much bandwidth at your disposal. You can find a QoS guide here, but it is always better to upgrade to a better broadband deal if you can afford to!
6. Tidy up your computer
Believe it or not, your WiFi signal can become weak if your computer is cluttered up and untidy; the more programs on your computer that are utilizing the WiFi network, the slower your connection could be. A great step toward speeding up your WiFi network is to declutter your computer of any unnecessary programs that could be slowing it down.
There is a lot of software out there that can declutter your PC and speed up your connection such as Avast! Cleanup and CCleaner. Although you can get free versions of these software packages, we recommend investing in the professional versions for the best experience.
7. Prevent interference from other appliances
Wireless signals don’t mix with each other very well, and your WiFi problems could be caused by something as innocent as a baby monitor or wireless telephone. Again, you may want to consider moving your router to a different part of your home, away from other wireless devices, or you can invest in more advanced hardware such as a dual band router.
8. Lock down your WiFi network
You should always have a password on your WiFi network, as unsecured networks can cause all sorts of problems, are vulnerable to attacks, and can put your personal data at risk. In addition to this, neighbors piggybacking on your network can significantly slow it down for obvious reasons.
In addition to this, you can hide your WiFi network from prying eyes via cloaking. If your network cannot be seen, it cannot be accessed – simple! Check out these tips for Wi-Fi network security for information about cloaking.