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Slow Wi-Fi speeds? How to improve your wireless network

Suffering from a slow or sluggish home internet connection? Here are eight ways to help improve your network speeds.
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Find the best place for your Wi-Fi router

Wi-Fi routers are not easy to place. Although they may seem unsightly with their blinking lights, the best place for them may not be behind the TV or inside a cabinet out of sight.

The best place may be in the center of your house, or in a place in your apartment with line-of-sight to other devices. Placing Wi-Fi routers right next to your devices may not also be great for signal, particularly streaming devices. Ethernet cable connections may be best for these if they are close to each other. But try to avoid putting your Wi-Fi router next to brick walls or metal, which can interfere with or limit signal.

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If your devices are compatible, switch to a stronger signal

Modern devices, like iPhones, iPads, notebooks, and Android devices, often work with the latest networking standards. Depending on the age of your devices, they may not be compatible with 802.11n or 802.11ac. But if your devices are less than one year old, you may be able to switch to those newer standards to ensure stronger signal and faster speeds.

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Security is key, cuts out network hijackers

Living in a populated neighborhood can increase your chance of having unauthorized users on your wi-fi network. Adding WPA2 security to your network (with a strong password) will reduce the chances of people using your wi-fi for streaming and downloading. This will overall improve your own speeds.

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Wi-Fi quality-of-service to limit bandwidth hogging apps

Quality-of-service (QoS) allows you to limit the amount of bandwidth certain apps can use, which can be handy if you stream a lot of video or TV content. This means certain apps and services can be dedicated with the greatest speeds and lowest lag, while other apps — such as downloaders — can be limited at certain times of the day.

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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.

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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

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Switch to longer 2.4GHz band to prevent wide broadcast

Most modern routers have two frequency band settings: 2.4GHz, which is great for long-range signal, and 5GHz, which offers short-range signal. While there are no significant compromises network speed or reliability, your best option is to pick the 5GHz band as it reduces the number of people who could access your network without authorization. The fewer people on your network sucking up bandwidth, the faster it is for you.

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Swallow the cost of a better, more advanced router

Worst case scenario is that you need to swallow the cost of a more expensive, modern router. These offer the best security features, the fastest speeds, and the greatest backwards compatibility with your devices. (Sister-site CNET has a list of the best wireless routers this year.)

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