Tips on How to Improve a WiFi Signal

by Aeyne Schriber on March 1, 2011 in Wi-Fi

There are many factors that can cause a wireless signal to become weak.  The problem is that when you search for fixes they are usually vague due to different types of wireless equipment and antennas that produce the signal.  Although this is understandable, what are some of the fixes you can begin to use across the board before delving into equipment specifics?

Using common troubleshooting methods may save you time with improving the strength of a wireless signal if the fix happens to be simple.  It is a good idea to rule out the common possibilities before hitting the manual for your WiFi equipment or paying out money for technical support from the manufacturer of your wireless equipment.

Consider the Location of Your Router

Observe the location where you have connected your router.  If you have placed it in the corner of a room and want to access the Internet in other locations of your home or office the reach may be too far which can cause the signal to be weak.  On the other hand, if the router is placed in a central location make sure it is free and clear of anything that may be obstructing the signal.  This includes wires and any furniture or metal objects that may be interrupting the signal.  Additionally, make sure there are no other signals interfering such as a cell phone, microwave, or radio.

Try Changing the Default Channel

Sometimes changing the default channel which is configured by the manufacturer helps to improve your wireless signal.  This fix is rather simple and involves connecting to the wireless router and then signing in to your account.  Once you are signed in change the channel that is set by default to something different.

Implement Encryption

If there are buildings in the immediate surroundings that have wireless access the connection may be piggy-backing on your wireless connection causing the signal to become weak.  Try using WPA encryption which is WiFi Protected Access for all of your devices that are connected to the network and configured to handle WPA.  The method you use for configuration will vary according to the type of wireless network devices you have.

Check for Router and Driver Updates

Access your router manufacturer’s website to see if there have been any recent updates.  Router manufacturers commonly release improvements after you have purchased your router.  The updates often increase the performance of the router and your wireless signal.

Network adapter manufacturers also release updates on a periodic basis so it may be possible that the driver for your network adapter is outdated.  If Windows Update does not find an update you can check for updates manually.  Click on “Start” on your main toolbar and then click on “Control Panel” and select “System.”  In the System panel click the “Hardware” tab and then click the “Device Manager” button.  Find your network adapter in the list and then right click on it and click “Properties.”  In the Properties window, click on “Check for Updates” to see if there are any updates for your network adapter driver.

Shutdown and Restart

Shut down your wireless network and computer, unplug the devices and then plug them in again before you restart the system again.  Sometimes your wireless signal will become weak due to bugs in the system that can develop over time and especially if you leave your PC on most of the time.  Shutting down and starting fresh will help the system to forget why it was not functioning properly and help it to start anew.

Try a Wireless Repeater

If all of the free troubleshooting methods fail you can try to add a wireless repeater.  This is a device that that will extend the range of your wireless signal without having to use any additional wiring.  All that is required is placing the repeater directly between your router and your PC to extend the wireless signal range.

Coordinate Your Wireless Devices

If your wireless devices on your network are comprised of different vendors you should try choosing devices that are made by the same vendor.  This includes your router and your network adapter.  If you end up doing this you can also consider upgrading your wireless network from 802.11g to 802.11n which provides better strength and network stability.  802.11n is compatible with your existing devices for 802.11g.

Keep in mind that most wireless networks rarely achieve the bandwidth that is indicated by the vendor and there are many other factors that come into play such as the environment, surrounding objects, and other wireless devices that you use outside of your wireless network.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Great article – it’s true that many factors come into play when your wireless signal becomes weak. I also recently put together a blog post that offers some tips for how to boost your WiFi network. You mentioned a lot of the same suggestions, but I wanted to add that PC users should make sure to upgrade their WiFi hardware as well. Using the 802.11g can make tasks such as streaming video and launching remote applications or file copy operations painfully slow. So if you’re suffering from low network bandwidth, make sure to pick a router and Wi-Fi adapter that support the latest 802.11n specifications. If you’d like to read more about this, my blog post is available here: http://bit.ly/etWnor

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