Are you having trouble with slow internet? If you are on a Wi-Fi connection, at some point you may have wondered if your Wi-Fi router was working properly. Before you run out and buy a brand new Wi-Fi router, there are some things that you can check to make sure that your current router is performing at its best.
When we think about Wi-Fi networks, the first thing that we imagine are invisible signals that penetrate walls, barriers, and anything that may be standing in their way. However, this is not an accurate picture. Wi-Fi singles are actually more physical in nature than many of us imagine. They can be scattered or blocked by walls, other electronic devices, or even people.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when thinking about maximizing your router’s efficiency and speed.
1. Where is your Wi-Fi router?
When thinking about improving your Wi-Fi strength or connection, the first thing to consider is the location of your Wi-Fi router. Think about where you are using the internet the most. Generally, the best place to put a Wi-Fi router is near the center of your house. However, this will not be the case for everyone. If you are usually doing computer work in one area of the house, your Wi-Fi router should be closer to this part of your home so that you have a good signal and strong connection.
If your router is at the corner of your home or apartment, or if it’s near a window, a big amount of your signal is wasted. Moving your router someplace else can dramatically improve your Wi-Fi performance.
2. Is your router in a place where you most often use the internet?
This is similar to the first question. Think about where your internet usage takes place. If you are pretty much using the internet in one area of your home, it makes no sense to have your router placed somewhere far from this area.
3. Is your router located on the ground?
You may think that it doesn’t make a big deal if your Wi-Fi router is on the ground but actually is not a good idea to keep your router on the floor. This is because most Wi-Fi routers are designed to broadcast Wi-Fi signals in a downward direction as they travel from the antenna. In addition, your floors may be made of metal, concrete, and/or cement, which can not easily be penetrated. If this is the case, get that router off the floor and move it somewhere elevated.
Experts recommend having your router at least a few feet off the ground. Some good places to put your router include a desk, table, stool, or bookshelf. With this in mind, if you have a multi-story house, putting your router in a basement can be shortchanging its potential.
4. Is your router out in the open, or is it blocked?
Some people don’t want their router to be displayed for all to see. Many will hide it away in a closet, bookshelf, or near a wall. This may be shortchanging your router’s potential, as radio waves travel best through the open air. Take a look at where your router is and ask yourself if there is a way for signals to freely move out from it. Just because you can’t see Wi-Fi signals does not mean that they can easily move through objects.
Other items that can block a Wi-Fi routers signal include fish tanks and large metal shelves. These types of items should not be placed in front of your router.
If you want to hide a router, consider putting it up somewhere high, like on a shelf near the ceiling, but do not block it from being able to send out its signal.
5. Are there other electronics near your router?
Just because your router is an electronic device does not mean that it will work well with other electronics close by. You may be tempted to put your router near your tv, computer, microwave, or cordless phone. However, this is not going to do you any favors. It will do more harm to your Wi-Fi connection than you may realize.
Electronic devices can easily interfere with the signal of your router. Therefore, keep your router away from other electronic items so it can work at top efficiency.
6. Are both antennas pointing in the same direction?
If you take a look at your router, you will likely see that you have pointed both antennas vertically. Since a Wi-Fi router’s signal sends the signal perpendicular to the antennas, it is known that vertical antennas will broadcast your Wi-Fi signal horizontally, which will end up covering more of your house. While this is true, it’s also a fact that having your device’s antenna aligned in the same direction as your router helps with maximizing its reception. Laptops, tablets, and phones all have antennas inside that are aligned in different directions. Some are horizontal. Others are vertical. This will change depending on how you are holding your device. Putting one antenna in a horizontal position and the other vertically can maximize your router’s signal strength and spread it around your home at maximum efficiency.
7. How is your router’s signal strength?
Have you ever mapped your Wi-Fi signal around your home? Many apps can help you do this, so you can visualize just how powerful the signal is and if you need to move or reposition your router.
8. Have you recently checked your router’s software?
By taking a look at your software, you may be able to improve your Wi-Fi network. Take a look at the bottom of your router to find its IP address. This may also be found by searching for your router’s brand name.
Go into your settings, and try changing the channel that your router is set on. With older routers, this can help clear up interference. If you are in a large, crowded urban area, this may solve the problem of a slow Wi-Fi connection.
Older routers operate at 14 different frequencies. They are numbered between 1 and 14. Channels 1, 6, and 11 are considered the best. This is because they do not overlap with other channels as much as other ones. This causes less interference.
You may also have to upgrade your router’s firmware. Your router’s manufacturer may have released a new firmware upgrade. If so, this can increase performance. Just do a quick search to see if one has been released for your router.
9. Is your internet service provider the problem?
Sometimes your router is not the problem. It could be your internet service provider. To check this, you can run a speed test. There are two conditions in which this can be done. First, you can run a speed test with your computer plugged in directly into the Wi-Fi router with an ethernet cord. You can also run a speed test over Wi-Fi. If both speed tests are slow, consider speaking with your ISP. You may want to upgrade your plan. If the Wi-Fi speed test is much slower than the speed test with your computer hooked to the router, then your router itself is likely the problem.
10. Have you tried everything? Maybe you need a new router.
If you have gone through all these steps and are still stumped, you may want to upgrade your router. Sometimes an older router needs to be replaced, or you may have purchased a router that has not lived up to its potential. There are many great routers out there that will last you a long time and give you a good user experience.