This guide to boosting your WiFi signal will help you get a wider wireless range, and faster internet speed. A good wireless network is a fantastic addition to the home. Getting faster, more reliable internet with a wider range is a bonus for everybody in the home. This guide to improving your WiFi connection has tips that provide a faster, more reliable and wider range network.
Everybody wants a better wireless internet connection at home. A faster connection means web pages load more quickly, YouTube and iPlayer stream smoother, and downloads arrive faster.
Boosting your WiFi will allow you to use devices further away from it: in more rooms in the house, or out in the garden. Because wireless internet deteriorates with range, improving WiFi means that you’ll get faster speed when close to the router.
A more reliable connection means fewer frustrating dropouts, and fewer instances when your home internet stops working.
These tips will help you get a faster, and more reliable internet.
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Get information about the wireless networks
A good way to get started is with information on which router you are using. Hold down the Option key [wondering what the Option key is, find out here] while clicking on the AirPort icon in Mac OS X to get more information about the wireless network you are connected to.
Mac OS X AirPort information is great, but we find iStumbler to be a much better Mac OS X tool for getting detailed information about on wireless networks. The latest version is iStumbler 100. iStumbler gives you detailed information about the wireless networks available. Things to look out for are:
- Protocol: Typically b, g, n, ac this is the type of internet the service is providing.
- Level: The signal strength.
- Signal. The strength of the signal in dB (decibels). Because it is a negative number, you want low digits. -37 is better than -47, for example.
- Noise: The amount of noise in dBm (decibel-milliwatts). Because this is also a negative number you want higher digits -92 is better than -72, for example.
- Channel. This is the channel that your WiFi router is operating on. Channels are no better than each other, but look at how many routers in the neighbourhood are operating in your channel. Consider switching to an emptier channel if one is available.
- Band. Two options are available 2.4Ghz or 5GHz. Again the amount of competition from other routers will be displayed in iStumbler.
- Width. Either 20 or 40MHz. Double width band provides faster internet to devices that support it.
There is more information available in iStumber, and it’s a good app to get to know. Especially if you use a MacBook and periodically look for wireless hotspots.
Switch to an 802.11N or 802.11AC router
There are different types of router around, all using a standard known as 802.11. The old style of router called 802.11G is still prevalent, but it runs much slower than the 802.11N, or 802.11AC type.
iStumber will let you know which protocol your router is using. Most modern routers use the N standard, if not you might want to consider investing in a new router. Ask your service provider about an upgrade.
Read next: How to fix WiFi connection problems on Mac
Switch to a 5GHz band
If your router has the option to operate in either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz band, you should opt for a wider (5GHz) band. Not all devices can operate in the 5GHz band, but it’s been around for a while so unless you’re using an older device it should work just fine.
Buy and install Apple AirPort Extreme
If your router is a little old, and you cannot get an upgrade from your provider, then should consider investing in a new AirPort Extreme. You can buy one of these Apple AirPort routers and connect it to your current internet modem.
The AirPort Extreme has dual antennae and can provide both a WiFi 802.11B, G, N network in 2.4GHz mode and a faster 802.11 N, AC network operating in the 5GHz band.
Attach an AirPort Extreme to your current router, and it will bridge to the network providing you with a brand new up-to-date wireless connection alongside your current wireless router.
Move your router
Try moving your router to a more central position in the house (or closer to the area where you want to use it. A closer position to where you work will improve the signal in that area.
Get a WiFi booster
If your router has a removable aerial then consider connecting a high gain antenna. Hawking Tech sells a range of solutions that can boost your wireless range.
Find free channels
If iStumbler is reporting much competition from other wireless routers in the same channel, consider switching your router to another channel. Most routers have a web interface that you can use to access the settings. Enter its IP address (often found on the rear of the router) into Safari to access its web settings (it’s often 192.168.0.1).
Remove unwanted devices
The web interface of the device will inform you which devices are accessing it. If you have a lot of different devices connected, you may want to consider disconnecting some of them. In busy households, you might want to consider adding a second router (such as one for you, one for the kids) so you do not take up too much bandwidth.
Make sure your system is secure
Along the same lines as making sure unwanted devices are removed from your router. Ensure that outsiders are not connecting to your router. Be sure to check that you have a good WPA2 password set up on your router.