Updated: July 9,2014
Wireless technology is gradually becoming commonplace in many homes and public areas. But, even with the most modern wireless technologies deployed, you can still experience occasional problems with your wireless connection.
Wireless connectivity has come a long way in recent years and more people are cutting the cables and getting away from the desk to conduct daily business and personal activities. Even with the most innovative wireless technologies, a wireless connection can still experience performance issues which can be really frustrating when you rely on your connection for both work and personal multitasking.
Before you blame a slow connection on your Internet Service Provider, there are a few proactive steps you can take to do your own troubleshooting. In most cases, do-it-yourself methods can take care of the connectivity problem without having to wait for a service technician to help you correct the problem.
In this article, we will cover some of the most common methods you can use to improve a wireless connection.
How to Improve a Wireless Connection
There are many different reasons a wireless Internet connection will diminish in performance. Most of the causes are due to device issues, wiring problems, software and hardware bugs, outdated equipment, device positioning, and much more.
The good news is that many of these issues can be addressed and fixed, even if you are not a computer whiz or tech savvy with electronic equipment. Here are some common fixes that address conventional issues which can be used to correct the problem.
Run a Speed Test
Before you begin troubleshooting, you should always perform a speed test on your wireless connection. This will help you to determine how close you are to the advertised speeds of your Internet Service Provider.
There are a variety of Internet speed testing services online that will provide you with an accurate test. This will provide you with a place to start and can act as a continual reference throughout the troubleshooting process. The following video will help you to learn how to perform a speed test on your Internet connection.
Keep in mind that if a particular speed testing service is not available for your area, simply Google “Internet connection speed test.” This will pull up a range of other services that will test your connection. This is significant since the closer you are to the testing source, the more accurate results you will receive.
Check for Viruses and Malware
Although this seems obvious to most, there are still people that are not aware of how viruses and malware can affect computing resources, and this includes your Internet connection. If you are one of these people, don’t feel silly as many do not associate a slow wireless connection with this type of problem.
Use a high quality antivirus and anti-malware scanning application to check for viruses and malware. Then follow up with a trustworthy registry cleaner to clean out broken and fragmented files, leftover files from past viruses and malware, and corrupt files. The registry cleaner also realigns existing files and places your PC back in proper working order.
Reset the Router
Sometimes your wireless router will develop issues after being used for an extended period of time. In many instances, a slow wireless connection is simply a matter of resetting the router to get a fresh start. You can do this by unplugging the router and then reconnecting it.
Once the router is running again, press and hold down the Reset button located on the side of the unit. Allow the router to go through the reset process and then use an online speed test service as mentioned earlier to check the speed of your wireless connection.
Also, remember to go back into the router web interface and reset your password as a complete reset of your router will set the password back to the default password and original factory settings.
Replace the Router Antenna
Some of the router models on the market are equipped with a standard antenna that transmits wireless signals in more than one direction. This can cause your wireless signal to become weak since the multiple signals are often unequal. Try deploying a larger Omni directional antenna which ensures that each signal performs equally. An Omni directional or high gain antenna is capable of transmitting more power equally to the receiving end which will increase the signal strength of your wireless connection. This is a much more powerful and functional antenna than the typical stock antenna you get with your router.
The following video will provide you with an idea of how an Omni directional can improve your wireless connection.
Install a Wireless Repeater
If your wireless signal is weak or intermittent, try deploying a wireless repeater which will help to extend the range of the wireless signal without having to add additional access points. A wireless repeater receives a wireless signal and then boosts the signal before sending it to your PC or mobile device.
A Wi-Fi repeater is very easy to install and is relatively inexpensive. Once you decide on a unit, all you have to do is unbox it, install the software on your device, place the device in a location that is within range of your wireless router, and then connect the power supply. Then you open up the software application on your PC and login with your regular wireless network credentials to allow the device to connect to your network.
Keep in mind that a wireless repeater creates a second network. This means if your PC typically logs on to the first network by default, it will be necessary to disconnect from that network and then log onto the boosted network created by the wireless repeater.
Make sure your router is placed in a central location where it is free of any obstructions. If you have it placed near walls, additional wiring, or metal objects, these factors could be playing a role in the weak wireless signal. This also includes microwave ovens and household electronics that run on the 2.4GHz frequency. This is the same frequency that is used for your wireless network.
Additionally, changing the channel for your wireless router will help to avoid problems with interference from other frequencies. This can be accomplished using the web page configuration for your router. Here is a quick video on how this process works:
Check the Router Distance
Wireless routers typically have a limited distance of usually around 100 feet. If you are not using a larger router antenna or a wireless repeater, check to make sure that your PC is located within 100 feet of the router and that the connection is not obstructed by walls, ceiling, objects, metal devices, or anything else that will affect the strength of the signal.
Make Your Own Wi-Fi Antenna Booster
For those that are DIY enthusiasts, you can try making a homemade Wi-Fi antenna booster. This can be done by adding a parabolic reflector to increase the wireless signal.
A parabolic reflector is a reflective surface such as a mirror that can be used to attract and reflect energy including radio waves, light, and sound. This type of reflector is used to accumulate energy from a distant source and transmit it to a common focal point. It can also project energy outward using the reflective surface.
Parabolic reflectors are used for a variety of different purposes, including boosting wireless signal strength. Creators of these homemade devices have reported a significant increase in wireless signal strength.
Here is an interesting example of how to make your own Wi-Fi antenna booster:
Perform Router Upgrades on a Routine Basis
Similar to your PC and software applications, routers have updates that help to keep the device secure and running at its maximum potential. Many of the router manufacturers publish the latest updates and upgrades on their website.
Check the website for your router manufacturer frequently for the latest upgrades that can provide a boost in your router’s performance. These updates are known as firmware updates and can help to optimize the performance of the router and provide a boost to your wireless connection.
Replace Outdated Firmware and Equipment
Using equipment and routers that are outdated will significantly slow down your Internet connection. Even if you perform the firmware updates on your router manufacturer’s website, eventually the firmware and equipment is going to need replacement.
Request a new modem from your Internet Service Provider or purchase one that is compatible with your Internet service. Many of the modems that are advertised on your ISP’s website are also available for purchase at a local or online electronics retailer.
To get the most out of your wireless connection, choose a device that supports IPv6 and DOCSIS 3 to make sure you are using the latest Internet connectivity technology. DOCSIS stands for Data over Cable Service Interface Specification and is a standard that is used to provide an Internet connection using a cable modem. DOCSIS 3 is the latest standard for this type of communication.
IPv6 is the newest protocol for the distribution of IP addresses. An IP address is a unique numerical address that identifies a specific device connected to the Internet. This allows two different devices to communicate over a network. It is similar to sending a snail mail letter to a specific physical address. Without the address, the letter would never arrive at its proper destination.
The last protocol for IP addresses was IPv4. With the increased number of devices connecting to the Internet, IPv4 addresses became depleted which created a demand for a new protocol.
Additionally, if your new firmware supports 802.11ac, this is the next IEEE wireless standard that follows 802.11b/g/n. This will ensure you are ready for the latest technologies, as well as new and emerging ones that are up and coming.
In terms of other equipment, you also may need to replace outdated cables, antennas, software, and other equipment to help increase the speed of your wireless connection.
If your wireless network is not password protected, it is time to create a password to secure your network. Wireless networks that are left open allow others to piggyback on your network which compromises the bandwidth and slows down your wireless connection.
In order to make sure you are getting to use the available bandwidth that you are paying for, it is necessary to block other devices from accessing your network. It also helps to keep your personal information secure as well.
Check the Network Adapter
Most devices are equipped with a wireless network adapter which can slow down a wireless Internet connection if the adapter is not functioning properly. In this case it may be necessary to reset the device to increase the speed of your wireless connection.
Resetting the wireless network adapter is a fairly simple process and one that can be performed by the average PC user. Here is an example of how the process works:
Keep in mind that the above example is just to show you how it works. Depending upon the device and operating system you use, the process may be slightly different.
Check Your Data Cap
Some of the wireless carriers place a cap on how much data their customers are able to consume over a monthly period. When a data cap is reached, your Internet connection is sometimes switched out for a slower connection until the following month.
Many of the wireless Internet carriers are moving away from data caps in creative ways to retain their existing customer base and attract new customers to the service. For example, programs such as Music Freedom by T-Mobile exempt specific music streaming services from counting toward the monthly data caps that are imposed on consumers. Regardless, data caps still exist and this may be contributing to a slow wireless connection.
Finally, if you are using a satellite Internet connection, check the weather conditions outside. When it comes to satellite Internet, one of the drawbacks to using this type of ISP is the satellite connection is subject to different weather conditions such as electrical storms, snow accumulation on the satellite dish, and electrical interferences.