Six ways to improve your Wi-Fi network

Six ways to improve your Wi-Fi network

Summary: Suffering from a slow or sluggish home internet connection? Here are six ways to help improve your speeds.

TOPICS: Networking

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  • Wi-Fi channels can reduce interference

    Having your Wi-FI network on the same "channel" as other devices in your neighborhood can cause interference with your network. You can use third-party Wi-Fi scanners to determine which channel networks around you are on. Picking one that isn't in use can increase the performance of your Wi-Fi network.

    Image: Newcastle University

  • Big house? Buy a repeater

    If you have a big property or office, you could invest in a Wi-Fi repeater. These devices are generally cheap — some routers already provide "access point" functionality — and can extend the range of your Wi-Fi network considerably

    Image: CNET/CBS Interactive

    See also:

    CNET: The guide to password security (and why you should care)


Topic: Networking

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  • Power

    Also turn down the power until it only reaches where you will need it.
    That way fewer outsiders will even be able to receive your signal with all the concern about people jumping on your WiFi connection regardless of your security settings.
    • Not workable...........

      ........because devices have different sensitivity which is also directional, so a metal ipad facing the wrong way in your house will need a stronger signal than a laptop with a good antenna hidden within the plastic bezel of the screen which also happens to be 'pointing' in its most sensitive direction.

      A committed 'sniffer' who's going to go to the trouble of breaking the encryption on their neighbours networks can buy a wi-fi card with a good external antenna and get even better range.

      I think this suggestion is just likely to cause frustration from deliberately crippling the wireless while offering no real security benefit. If unauthorised access is a serious concern use the access control features in the router, you can usually set up a mac address whitelist for your own devices.
      • Agreed, it is just better to secure your network

        @MoeFugger. Good network security is your best bet not messing with the power output.
    • MIMO and beamsteering helps - a _lot_

      It used to be fringe, but is now an integral part of the 802.11n and ac standards

      The important thing is to get routers/APs which will support MIMO
      Uncle Stoat
  • A Gallery... Really .... ?!

    For this article, please explain to me how a Gallery ads value ?!
    • Give Users More Control Over Galleries (and other) Image Files

      Have to agree with jkohut...not only is even having a gallery for this topic pointless...but vanilla images that in themselves also add zero value...they are just "eye-candy" that eat-up bandwidth, and SLOW DOWN your connection. Funny, I thought the article was about improving your Wi-Fi network (and seemed to primarily focus on speed/performance).

      Perhaps another solution is from now on I'll just write a control script that disables displaying images in galleries? It could reduce wasting bandwidth by letting buttons/icons/ads/etc display, but prevent "gallery" images from downloading (or at least strip them out of the re-transmitted wireless datastream). Or, perhaps I could just substitute a thumbnail image (when available) even when the full-size image is requested in the page code. (Or again, a thumbnail could be created before transmitting over the wireless datastream.)

      User could have the choice of whether to view full-size, full-res images...or not.
      • I suspect ZDNET...

        makes it's money by number of click or pages visited, etc... Galleries are most likely a way for them to increase revenue (surely ain't adding value to the reporting/technology in many cases). I would rather they just put a button next to a regular article and say "please click me 6 times so we can tell our advertisers that someone clicked six times". There are occasions when Galleries are useful, but only when the article is in-depth, the amount of content and value of the images go together enough to warrant it. This article like a number of others use it badly.
  • Extend your network

    Using a home plug solution is also a great (and relatively cheap) way to get the internet to the far reaches of the house. My normal Wi-Fi signal is good for downstairs and the first floor but my study is in the attic, and the Wi-Fi won't reach that far. So, by using a home plug solution I have both a wired and extra Wi-Fi connection where I need it. It means I can hard wire my attic PC to get great performance, whilst also benefiting from a good Wi-Fi signal for my phone and tablet. My sky TV box is also hardwired in another downstairs room which is good for streaming and I have a socket out in the garden and can extend out there when the need arises (on those few days we Brits get some sun)....
    • Consider/Check Before Purchase of Power-line Network Adapters

      Keep in mind that home networks via AC power-line adapters may not work well (or at all) in homes that use AC power-line to control lamps, A/C, water heaters, etc (like old "X10" type systems), or send old-style non-network type surveillance camera signals, or split "220VAC" power at the breaker box to provide "110VAC" to different sections of the building. Also, depending on how your outside power is fed into the house, it's possible (though much less likely) that a neighbor with AC power-line controlled equipment may interfere with your AC power-line usage.
      • Split homeplug nets

        There are a number of devices designed to solve the issue of homeplug isolation between circuits - they are wired into the distribution panel, so are an electrician-install job.

        Some also bridge TCP/IP into other media - is a very basic starting point.

        Examples of polyphase plc couplers are and

        If you're concerned about PLC signal leakage out of the building then RF clamps on the power feed will knock most of this out.
        Uncle Stoat
    • MOCA

      MOCA is a better option than power line if you have coax in your walls.
  • Plaster walls

    I have mesh metal lath in plaster walls in my house. Getting a strong wi-fi connection more than 1 room away was impossible. I ended up adding a second router in the basement, cranked up the signal which went through the floors. I get a strong signal in every room in the house now.

    The only problem is that I can connect at the edge of my back yard. I use WPA2 and a strong password.
    • Backyard

      Try getting a wireless repeater and placing it near a window to the backyard?
  • What a fool

    "In the centre of the house"
    "avoid putting your router next to brick walls"

    This is idiotic, what about the phone or cable connection Zack? Virtually everyone has to plug the router into a socket (or two) on a wall, at the edge of the house.

    In fact for ADSL not using the 'master' incoming socket will often destroy the broadband speed which is usually what's being relayed through the much faster wi-fi anyway - so what's more important wi-fi or broadband optimisation.

    Oh year and the gallery thing is just awful, I usually skip them but your stupidity on this subject got the better of me.
    • Good point, wrong jack bad performance

      We'd been using the same phone jack for years, but after a speed upgrade the ISP asked for an appointment for a tech to see why it was slow. His first move was to relocate the modem/router to the main jack. There are also a lot of settings a technician can play with between that jack and other points along the ISP infrastructure, so slow wfi is often a problem at "their end" not your own and a call to the ISP can fix it.
      • And......... my case I also found that completely disconnecting all the 'extension' sockets from the master further improved the broadband speed - by quite a margin. No phone extensions now but who uses a home phone - we only have the line for the ADSL connection anyway.

        Also - I used to use a powerline type wi-fi extender to provide another access point at the back of my house - covering the garden, but when tracing problems with the speed after upgrading I found the ADSL connection became unstable whenever a powerline device was plugged in nearby - it worked fine before the upgrade - seems the faster ADSL was more susceptible to noise on the mains.

        Finally - wifi analyser - free on Android (maybe iphone too) shows who's using what wi-fi channels in your vicinity.

        • Re: And.........

          Another useful tool for Android is Wifi Inspector (free). You can check your network and detect all connected devices. Those you recognise you can name/rename, others may be suspect.
          graham palmer
    • What do you mean by "master" jack?

      For ADSL you need to apply the correct filter at the phone jack you are using. If phone jacks are wired correctly they should all get good performance.

      Generally it is better to have each phone jack go straight to the external terminal.

      I would avoid anything using powerline networking and focus on wifi.
  • "Third Party Wi-Fi scanners" Not Necessarily Required

    In the panel "Wi-Fi channels can reduce interference" author said "You can use third-party Wi-Fi scanners to determine which channel networks around you are on."

    Perhaps I'm misunderstanding what he means by that but in my mind that suggests it's referring to a piece of specialized hardware. But routers I've used have come with an application or command sequence to channel scan and report how each is in use, so it's not third party. Some even do the analysis for you and suggest which channel(s) seem least crowded. If I recall correctly, some also allow you to set it up to scan over all its available channels for a user-defined time period (e.g. 24 hours) and it then plots a graph of each channel's usage during that time period. In most cases it should be obvious which channel was least used by other people/equipment.

    There are also third party freeware programs out there (perhaps it's the software being referred to?) that can do the same with a large number of routers. It'll depend on the router's firmware. Also, if you can use open software dd-wrt, EFF's Open Wireless Router Firmware, or similar on your router you can do the scanning. You can look in wikipedia or search internet for
    [automatic open Internet scanning and bridging software]
    • Free

      There are some very nice, free Wi-Fi apps for Android that will let you do your own surveys. Of course you have that radio frequency capability on your device. Likely also true for iOS. It's pretty handy when someone yells for help.
      Brian J. Bartlett