Five Free Ways to Boost Your Wi-Fi

Improve Wireless RouterWi-Fi is renowned for it’s poor performance in comparison to wired connections - however, sometimes it’s our only option. For those times that your wireless connection is giving you trouble, don’t spend money on a brand new router. Try some of these handy tricks instead:

  1. Update: Quite possibly the easiest thing you can do to boost your router’s performance is to make sure its drivers and firmware are both up to date. Check the manufacturer’s website consistently to download updates and keep your router humming like the finely-tuned machine that it is
  2. Center your router: wireless routers are, essentially, omnidirectional transceivers, meaning they send out their signal (and receive signals back from your devices) in a “bubble”. But the shape and size of that “bubble” can be limited by a number of different things, like walls, floors, mirrors, metal items, microwaves, furniture and more. Place your router as high as you can in the middle of your home to maximize it’s coverage. Never put it against an outside wall because that will mean half your signal will be beamed to the outside world instead of your devices.
  3. Harness the Power of Beer: Some kinds of metal reflect wireless signals. This means you can redirect your “bubble” of signal into one direction and thus boost the signal strength along that beam, say, to your computer. Create your own “beer can radar dish” by following these simple steps:
    1. Enjoy a can of beer
    2. Thoroughly rinse the empty can
    3. Allow the can to dry
    4. Pull off the tab
    5. Use a metal snipe or box cutter to remove the bottom of the can
    6. Do the same to the top of the can, EXCEPT make sure you leave a small (around 1″ wide) tab attached to the top. Wear gloves, kids - safety first
    7. Opposite the tab, cut the can lengthwise from top to bottom
    8. Pull back both sides
    9. Turn can over
    10. Slide the mouth of the can over the router’s antenna
    11. Point your new “router dish” in the direction you want to boost your wireless signal
    12. Tape the can to the router to secure it
  4. Change Channels: All wireless routers operate within the same wavelength on the wireless spectrum. “So what?” you ask? Well, a lot of other devices you the same wavelength, like cordless phones. Bluetooth headsets. Microwave ovens. Baby monitors. Your neighbours’ Wi-Fi network. If you have any of these devices in the range of your network, they are causing (greater or lesser amounts of) interference. But just like readio stations, there are a number of channels within that spectrum (13, to be exact)
    1. If you live in Canada (like yours truly) change the channel to 1, 5, 9 or 13
    2. If you live in the US, change the channel to 1, 6 or 11
    3. Find out what other Wi-Fi networks are in range and ask their owners to change their channels to different ones than yours. Tell them they’ll get better connectivity and they’ll probably be happy to do it
    4. Move other devices that might interfere (cordless phones, etc.) away from your router
  5. More is Better: If a single router isn’t powerful enough to cover your entire house, you can use a second router to boost your network’s range:
    1. Buy a second router (or dig up a spare if you have one)
    2. Plug the secondary router into your main router’s LAN port
    3. Run the secondary router’s setup utility
    4. Give the second router the same addressing info (netmask, gateway and SSID) as the primary router
    5. Turn off secondary router’s DHCP
    6. Station the secondary router as far away from the first as possible

There you have it: 5 simple tips to improve your wireless connection. Have any other tips? Tried any of these? Let us know in the comments below!

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