Having a weak Wi-Fi signal can be incredibly frustrating in a world where most electronic modern devices are WiFi enabled. WiFi signal strength can have a huge impact on how usable our devices are and lead to less than optimal user experiences. Understanding how your WiFi works, where it is underperforming, and how to boost your WiFi signal can lead to huge improvements across your devices.
To a lot of people, Wi-Fi seems like magic. A small box in the corner of a room sends out invisible waves that connect your devices to the internet? The reality is less fun but a lot more interesting than that. WiFi works through electromagnetic waves, specifically radio waves. The Wi-Fi network uses radio waves to transmit information in much the same way information is transmitted in television and radio networks.
All modern internet ready devices will have a wireless adapter built into the device. This wireless adapter translates data created by your device into a radio signal which it will then transmit using an antenna also located within the device casing. Your wireless router will then receive this signal and decode the information before sending it to the internet via a wired Ethernet connection.
How To Test Your WiFi Singal
Before you start following our tips to boost your WiFi signal, you first need to get a baseline reading of your WiFi signal strength so you can measure any improvements. NetSpot has a market-leading WiFi signal strength app that accurately analyzes the strength of your signal, giving insightful performance metrics.
If you’re unsure of your WiFi performance, then this WiFi signal strength app is the best app to test your WiFi and determine your baseline performance before optimizing your WiFI. This is because NetSpot is a WiFi survey app that will collect every detail about the surrounding WiFi networks and provide a breakdown of insights and advise on how to optimize your network.
Boosting Your WiFi Signal
Cellphones, walkie talkies, television and, of course, radio, also use radio waves to transmit data wirelessly, however, Wi-Fi transmits the information at higher frequencies. WiFi transmits information at 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz frequencies which allows for more data to be carried over the network.WiFi signal range also comes into play here.
2.4 GHz vs 5GHz
2.4 GHz WiFi uses longer radio waves so this frequency is better suited for environments where you need your WiFi signal to reach distances further away from the router and go through walls, for example, if your router is located in a downstairs room but your office is located upstairs.
While 2.4 GHz is incredibly useful for providing a decent WiFi signal across your home or business, the issue is that this frequency is fairly crowded. Most WiFi devices will operate on this frequency, as well as some other devices such as baby monitors, old cordless phones, and your neighbor’s WiFi. This can lead to a busy and crowded network in which your WiFi signal strength suffers.
You can switch to 5GHz for a less crowded signal and a higher speed, however, the drawback of this is that you lose range. Losing signal range isn’t necessarily a negative if your device is situated close to your router, and you can even switch between the frequencies if you require a signal boost for certain tasks. For example, if your router is located in the living room and this is where you want to play an online game, then switching to 5Ghz can vastly improve your experience.
Upgrade Your Antenna
It’s typical for your router’s native antenna to be relatively small and weak compared to other antennas available on the market. Buying a new and more powerful antenna can be a better alternative to buying a whole new router if you are experiencing WiFi signal problems. Antennae are cheap to buy and easy to install but tend to be considerably larger than the ones that come with the router. If you don’t mind the increased size, which can be a bit of an eyesore, then this is a great option.
Update Your Router
Older routers with firmware that has never been updated perform worse than routers with more recently installed firmware, or firmware that is regularly updated. Leaving your firmware un-updated also leaves it vulnerable to malware attacks so updating your router’s software is always recommended. Routers infected with malware can steal your bandwidth or collect and intercept your WiFi data.
Choose Your Router Location Wisely
WiFi signal strength decreases the further away the device is from the router. Since WiFi transmits in all directions equally, rather than in a targeted direction, it’s preferable to have your router located in a central location that favors even coverage. You should also try to ensure that no electromagnetic devices are blocking your router. It’s fairly common to see a router placed behind a TV or next to a games console, this may make sense in terms of hiding it out of the way or grouping it with your other electronic devices, but it actually dampens the WiFi signal strength.