Wi-Fi booster and WiFi Externder
Wi-Fi can sometimes be quite fickle. You may have a perfect, strong Wi-Fi signal that drops right down to just one bar when you move a few steps in one direction. The good news is that there are several things that you can do to enjoy stronger Wi-Fi, including using a Wi-Fi booster. But first, it’s important to understand the different factors that influence Wi-Fi performance.
What Influences Wi-Fi Performance?
Physical Distance: Wi-Fi routers are not as powerful as towers for obvious reasons. The cheaper the router, the less effective it will be in even quite a small home with a decent Wi-Fi signal. If you want to determine how far the Wi-Fi reach in your home is, you can use a Wi-Fi analyzer like NetSpot.
Interference: Wi-Fi signals occupy the same frequency band of the electromagnetic spectrum as cell phones, walkie-talkies, radios, microwaves, and many other devices that you may have in your home. As a result, these can interfere with the Wi-Fi signal. Wi-Fi networks can also interfere with one another, which is more likely to happen in areas with a dense population or houses and apartments that are located very close together.
Obstructions: Wi-Fi signals can be either partially or fully blocked by various objects, such as furniture, walls, home appliances, and even people. Higher frequency signals do not penetrate solid objects as well as a lower frequency signal, so they will have an even more negative effect on 5G Wi-Fi networks.
Bandwidth Use: In some cases, the problem is not going to be with the strength of your Wi-Fi signal, but rather your internet connection’s capacity. Streaming on a lot of devices, video chatting, and other connection-heavy tasks can reduce even the strongest of Wi-Fi networks to a slow crawl.
Router Capacity: How much your router can handle can also have an impact on the strength of your Wi-Fi signal. Some are powerful enough to render 3D objects, while others struggle with casual web browsing. If you have quite a low-end router, then it’s impossible to expect it to provide reliable Wi-Fi access if you have a lot of devices.
Performance Enhancing Features: Many modern routers come with a range of performance-enhancing features such as Multi-User MIMO and Quality of Service. However, older routers do not often support all of them, and they may need to be enabled to work.
Your Internet Service Provider: Finally, your internet service provider might be to blame for the problem. This is likely to be the case if even after hours of troubleshooting the poor Wi-Fi performance nothing has changed and you are struggling to figure out the problem. You can test your connection by performing a speed test via a wired internet connection. If the download and upload speeds that you measure don’t match up to what you are supposed to get, then it’s time to complain or change providers.
What Can You Do to Improve Wi-Fi Performance?
Now that you have a better understanding of the main factors that are going to have an impact on your Wi-Fi performance, it’s time to take a look at some of the main things that you can do to boost it.
Choose a Good Location for Your Router
When it comes to where you are going to place your router in the home, it’s important to understand that not all places are going to be suitable. Avoid placing the router close to any appliances like telephones that are known to send out electromagnetic waves and keep it away from metal objects. Metal is one of the main materials that will disrupt a Wi-Fi signal, and when it is close to the router it can easily create a huge dead zone in the home. Plastics, wood, glass, and even cardboard and foam can also disrupt the signal, but their influence tends to be less severe. You should also keep the router at a safe distance from electrical wires. Place the router roughly centrally to cover the surrounding area with an even signal. Elevate your router above floor level to boost your wireless signal even more. This is because when your router is on the floor, this limits its ability to emit a strong signal since Wi-Fi signals radiate outward in all directions.
Get a Stronger Antenna
Lots of Wi-Fi routers today come with antennas that are small and weak. On the other hand, powerful Wi-Fi antennas tend to be large and bulky, but if you do not mind the size, then it can be a great way to boost the power of the Wi-Fi signal in your home or office without the need to buy a whole new router. There are several types of Wi-Fi antenna to choose from, but the most common is the ‘rubber duck’ antenna, an electrically short monopole antenna that has a springy wire shaped like a narrow helix, sealed inside a plastic or rubber case to protect it. To boost your Wi-Fi signal, you will need to get an antenna that has more gain than the current one.
Update Your Router
The number of malware and other hacking attacks is increasing every year. These cost individuals and businesses billions of dollars each year. If all routers were kept up to date, many attacks would not actually be possible. Once a router has been infected by malware, it can hog bandwidth and be spread across the network to the other devices that are connected. But even without malware attacks, routers that have not been updated for a while and have older firmware tend to have poorer performance compared to a router that is updated regularly. You can check if your router has the latest firmware by launching a web browser on a computer or smartphone and connecting to your router’s network. Enter your router’s IP address into the web browser, and log into your router using the username and password that will usually be on a sticker on the router. Once you access the controls, you will be able to select an option for Router Update or Firmware Update. Then, wait for your router to find and install the latest firmware.
Create a Strong Password
These days it has become more important than ever before to have Wi-Fi that is encrypted and protected with a strong password. With more people than ever relying on Wi-Fi, the need for open and fast Wi-Fi networks is growing. Never assume that your neighbors won’t piggyback on your Wi-Fi network since this happens a lot, even when people have their own. A strong Wi-Fi password should consist of a combination of both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Don’t use a common password that is easy to guess, and make sure that it is no less than eight characters long. Avoid using any personal information in your password that might make it easy to guess such as your name, a child’s name, or the name of your dog. Don’t write your password down; if you are going to struggle to remember it then you can use a secure password manager program.
Use a Different Wi-Fi Channel
There are various Wi-Fi channels that a Wi-Fi router can broadcast on. Most countries have at least six non-overlapping channels, but the majority of users will simply leave their router on the default channel. This can result in a Wi-Fi traffic jam, with too many users occupying the same channel at once. To get a better experience, you can use a Wi-Fi analysis and surveillance tool to figure out which channel is least occupied and then switch to it. To do this, log into your router admin and select Wireless Settings. You should then see an option for ‘Channel’, which is likely set to Default or Auto. Change to your desired channel, save the new settings, and wait for the router to restart.
Upgrade Your Internet Plan
It is easy to underestimate the number of devices that are connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi. From smartphones and computers to a range of home products and home appliances, all the devices that are connected to the internet consume a huge amount of bandwidth that not every internet plan can provide. If you have been using the same internet plan for a long time, then chances are you have more internet-connected devices now compared to when you started. Check out what other options are available and consider upgrading. The good news is that faster internet plans have significantly reduced in price compared to the early days.
Change Your DNS Address
The Domain Name System or DNS is responsible for converting domain names into IP addresses. Your modem is likely to be automatically configured to use your internet service provider’s DNS server, however, it might not have the best performance. Luckily, most modern modems will allow you to change your DNS address, which can be a simple and easy way to improve Wi-Fi performance. You can choose from a range of public DNS servers including options from Cloudflare and Google.
Try Setting Up a Mesh Wi-Fi System
A single router, no matter how capable it might be, may not be able to provide an entire living space with a strong and reliable Wi-Fi signal. In this situation, it might be worth considering setting up a mesh Wi-Fi system that consists of a main router and various satellite units placed around the home that work together to provide seamless Wi-Fi coverage. You can find popular mesh Wi-fi systems from a range of brands including Google, Asus, Orbi, and Eero. The best thing about a mesh Wi-Fi system is that you can easily expand it depending on your needs, adding satellite units to the network if needed over time.
Measure Your Wired Internet Performance
If you have tried a few things to improve your wireless internet performance and haven’t had much success, then it might be worth thinking about shifting your focus from Wi-Fi to wired internet performance. For this you will need an Ethernet cable and a computer that has an Ethernet port. Connect your computer to the modem using the Ethernet cable and open a speed testing service in your web browser. Run the speed test and compare it with the speeds that are advertised for your plan by your internet service provider. It’s a good idea to do this test a few times, ideally at various times of day. Once you are sure that the problem is slower speeds than expected from your internet service provider, send them the results of the tests, and ask them to fix the problem. Many internet service providers have speed guarantees.
Reboot Your Router
‘Try switching it on and off’ is timeless IT advice that can also work for Wi-Fi routers. Sometimes, all it might take is a simple reboot to improve your Wi-Fi speeds by clearing the router memory and allowing updates to be installed. To reboot the router, you can either press the restart button that is usually located on the back of the router or disconnect the router from the power and switch it back on again. Your router may begin installing an update during the reboot; if this happens, wait for it to be complete, and do not turn the router off and interrupt the process. It may take more than ten minutes for the update to be complete depending on your router’s performance.
Switch to 5GHz
The 5 GHz wireless frequency is usually less busy compared to the 2.4 GHz wireless frequency and provides faster data at shorter distances. If you have a router that supports this frequency, then it is worth considering switching to it for an immediate short-range speed boost. You can do this by logging into your router’s admin panel, going to settings, and opening the Wireless Settings tab or similar. Change the 802.11 band to 5 GHz from 2.4 GHz and click apply. You will need to restart the router for the new settings to be applied in most cases. Bear in mind that on the downside, this wireless frequency does not always penetrate solid objects such as walls as well as the 2.4 GHz frequency, which might be a problem in some buildings.
Use the Latest Wi-Fi Technology
IEEE 802.11ac is the latest wireless technology offering superior upload and download speed along with improved range. You will need to ensure that both your router and any Wi-Fi-enabled devices in your home support the latest Wi-Fi technologies before you can use them to boost your Wi-Fi. It is worth choosing a better-quality router rather than simply going for the most affordable option that you can find. It’s always worth spending a little extra to get access to a range of modern features including Quality of Service, MU-MIMO, gigabit Ethernet ports, guest networks, and a replaceable external antenna.
How to Choose the Best Wi-Fi Extender for You
The purpose of a Wi-Fi extender or booster is to extend the existing Wi-Fi signal to areas that it would not otherwise be able to reach. Most Wi-Fi boosters and extenders are designed to be easily plugged in making them easy for anybody to install at home to enjoy stronger and more reliable Wi-Fi. When you choose a Wi-Fi booster, it’s a good idea to understand the size of the area that you want to cover.
Get a Wi-Fi Booster or Extender
A Wi-Fi booster or a Wi-Fi extender can be an ideal way to strengthen the reach of your network. Although they have several names, a Wi-Fi extender, booster, or repeater basically works the same way. Repeaters are fairly simple devices that take the existing signal from your Wi-Fi router and then rebroadcast it in your home as a new network. The new network is an extension of the existing Wi-Fi network, and all data that goes through it will also go through the original network. A Wi-Fi extender or booster works in a very similar way, but these will also amplify the existing Wi-Fi signal before it is rebroadcasted to create an additional network. They tend to have a greater range in comparison with Wi-Fi repeaters, so it makes sense to get a booster if the original signal is weak. A good Wi-Fi repeater, extender, or booster can be obtained quite cheaply and is easy to install in just a few minutes.
Do You Need a Wi-Fi Extender?
Not everybody will need a Wi-Fi extender, but some people will find that this is a helpful device to have in the home. This is especially true if there are certain areas or rooms in your home where you have found that the Wi-Fi signal is just weaker no matter what you do to try and strengthen it. Placing a Wi-Fi extender in these areas will create a secondary network to boost the signal here, allowing you to enjoy more reliable and consistent Wi-Fi throughout your home.
The Best Wi-Fi Extenders You Can Buy Today
- Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000 Tri-band Wi-Fi Extender: This is a high-end Wi-fi booster with a speed of up to 3Gbps. It uses FastLane3 technology from Netgear to broadcast Wi-fi signals over three different bands simultaneously, allowing each device that you connect to the internet to choose the fastest available line.
- TP-Link RE350 AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender: This is a compact Wi-Fi extender that can be used to extend your existing Wi-Fi network by simply plugging directly into a power socket. It offers maximum coverage and performance with support for both 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz. It comes with two integrated high-gain antennae that provide a surprisingly wide coverage. The booster has a light at the front to indicate the current signal strength and help you find the ideal place for it in your home.
- Netgear Orbi RBK50: This is a hybrid design between a Wi-Fi router and a Wi-Fi booster. There are two units inside the box; one of these connects to your Wi-Fi router and the other connects wirelessly to this device, which ultimately extends the Wi-Fi network seamlessly to other parts of your home. When working together, they can cover up to five thousand square feet with fast Wi-Fi and combined Wi-Fi speeds up to 3Gpbs.
- Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ Wi-Fi Range Extender: Despite a simple design, this extender is full of modern Wi-Fi technologies including MU-MIMO, which allows multiple Wi-fi devices to receive multiple data streams simultaneously. It also supports Cross Band Technology which maximizes 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless band utilization.
- D-Link PowerLine AV1000 Wi-Fi AC Starter Kit: This is an ideal extender to have if your Wi-Fi router needs to be on the ground floor and you want to extend the signal to higher floors in the home such as the attic. It is a unique booster that uses the electrical wiring in your home to extend the network. Plug it in near the router and connect it with an Ethernet cable. You then need to plug in the transmitter unit anywhere in your home that uses the same electrical wiring.
What are the Best Wi-Fi Extenders?
The main aim of a Wi-Fi extender is to extend the Wi-Fi signal beyond the capabilities of the Wi-Fi router. It does this by grabbing the existing signal and rebroadcasting it around the home. There are a few things to look for when choosing the best Wi-Fi booster or Wi-Fi extender for your home. Look at the speed, band, and features that are offered such as MU-MIMO and guest networks to make sure that your new Wi-Fi booster or extender is going to significantly improve the Wi-Fi signal and service available in your home.
Slow Wi-Fi can be problematic for many people, especially if you work from home or otherwise need to be connected to the internet. The good news is that there are several things that you can try to improve the strength and reach of your Wi-Fi signal, including setting up a Wi-Fi booster.