If you’ve been working remotely or home schooling over the past few months then you’ll really have got to know the value of speedy internet and a reliable WiFi signal. Even if you haven’t, you’ll still be acutely aware of how a Wi-Fi drop out, slowed browsing and buffered streaming can cause major frustrations.
Are you labouring under a slow internet connection, or suffering from WiFi dead zones? If so, read on for our expert advice on how to boost a WiFi signal, improve your family’s online experience and boost home working productivity into the bargain.
First up – test your internet speed
There are plenty of tools you can use to test your internet speed. Too many people take their internet provider’s word for it and just assume their speed is what they’re told it is. But this isn’t always the case. So test it and see.
First make sure nothing’s streaming, uploading or downloading, and deactivate any VPN you’ve got running. This will isolate your test and give you a more accurate reading.
A really easy to use tool is https://fast.com/, this gives an instant reading of your speed. Or there’s the PCMag Speed Test which also works on mobile devices. Or just Google test my internet speed and you’ll see numerous other options.
Coming up slow? Here are some straightforward fixes you can try.
1. Check the location of your router
The location of your router can directly affect your WiFi coverage. Lots of people try to tuck it away out of sight, or leave it next to where the cable comes in. But hiding your router away or keeping it in a far end corner isn’t going to help your cause.
The prime position for a router is ideally in the centre of your property. This will allow the signal to reach all ends equally.
Wireless routers also depend on open spaces to work optimally. If you’ve got obstacles in the way, this could be affecting the router’s performance. So, give it some space, and try to keep it as far away from power-zapping appliances too as these can interfere with the signal.
If you’ve got one of those routers with antennae, angle them upright. Also try locating your router up high, such as on a top shelf.
2. Install a WiFi range extender
It’s not always possible to locate your router in a prime position of course, and for larger properties it’s always going to be a challenge to get that signal to reach every corner, and signals can only travel a limited distance. The answer? A WiFi range extender.
WiFi extenders work by picking up the existing wireless signal from the wireless router and rebroadcasting it. Placement of the extender is key to getting the most out of it. It needs to be close enough to the router to pick up the signal, but also in good proximity to the zones that are lacking signal.
You’ll need a power socket to plug the WiFi signal booster into, then it’s a simple set up process, usually via an app. The device doesn’t have to be the same make as your router, just make sure it’s compatible.
Here’s a list of PC Mag’s best wireless range extenders for 2020 detailing features and advice on how to choose the right one for your needs. Or just ask your KP Computer contact!
3. Update your router firmware
Device manufacturers often play around with their software in an attempt to improve it and iron out bugs, and that goes for routers too. There’s every chance your router may need its firmware updated. Sometimes this can be straightforward, other times you may need some expert help. It really depends on who it’s made by.
Some of the more recent router models may have a firmware upgrade button. Press this and it’s all done for you. Others though will need you to go to the manufacturer’s website and download an update. It takes a bit of time, but it’s well worth the effort if you’re going to enjoy faster speeds and more reliable WiFi.
4. Upgrade your hardware
If you’ve updated the router firmware and still no joy, it might be time to invest in a new router altogether, and you might need a more up to date wireless adapter for your PC too. This type of equipment is being improved all the time. Think about the tablet or smartphone you have 5 years ago and how they’ve been enhanced over time. The same goes for routers and adapters.
Older routers are slower routers, so better to go for something that’s got all the latest tech built in. And if your devices are older you may also need to attend to the WiFi adapter. A USB WiFi adapter is a good way to boost a WiFi signal on a laptop for example.
Here’s a helpful list of best buy routers for 2020 from Tech Advisor to help you compare and choose a new model. Or just ask your KP Computer contact!
5. Consider a mesh based WiFi system
Mesh based WiFi systems are designed specifically to resolve the issue of poor WiFi signal woes. They replace a router rather than just extending it.
Working by a ‘node’ system, one of the nodes connects directly to your modem, then the rest of the satellite nodes can be located around the home wherever you most need a reliable signal. An app guides you through setup, helping you make sure you choose the best place for each node.
Mesh based WiFi gives you blanket coverage throughout the home. But they’re not cheap, especially if you have a larger property to furnish with satellite nodes. But if you’re thinking about investing in a new router anyway, and were going to get an extender too, then it might be worth considering the extra value you could gain.
Here is Tech Radar’s guide to the best mesh WiFi routers, or just ask your KP Computer contact!
6. Get the experts in
There are a few more potential fixes for a weak WiFi signal or slow internet connection, but they aren’t necessarily straightforward unless you have a certain degree of technical knowledge of the network administrator interface.
Slow WiFi solutions such as a change of router frequency or channel can be highly effective in speeding things up, as can limiting the amount of bandwidth used by certain apps.
If in doubt, consult with your PC and networking expert. They’ll know precisely what to do to help you achieve faster speeds and a more reliable WiFi connection so that all of those frustrations you experience when working, teaching, learning, streaming, shopping or gaming can become a thing of the past.
Need help with your WiFi or internet? Talk to KP Computer.
If you could use some professional help with getting your internet up to speed, talk to the experts at KP Computer. We’re here to help, and look forward to being of assistance.