Troubleshooting your network’s wireless performance can appear like an arcane exercise, until you think that there are actually just two most important factors to mull over, those are, range and speed. Yes, and in fact, you can have one without the other. For instance, it’s fantastic to have a super-fast wireless network, but if you only get enough speed when your laptop or the WiFi device is right next to the router, the speed isn’t something which you should think about. In such a situation, you need to boost the range of signals. If you can hardly open friends’ Facebook pictures when you’re in the same room as the router, then we’re speaking about problems with internet speed.
In this article we will find out what could go wrong when you start to think about troubleshooting to that and how you can actually get over the problem you are facing.
Generally, speed and range issues can both be the reasons for the performance issues. In any case, you want both your speed and range to be as robust as possible without paying any extra bucks. There are various factors that can hamper both aspects of performance.
Distance can undoubtedly hamper performance. You may be working in a room which is too far from your wireless router or your home or office is structure could be a factor in poor wireless performance. You can have the performance issue with your wifi device if the signals have to bounce around too many corners to reach your wireless devices (however, new routers come with beamforming technology which helps direct a router’s signal to the wireless clients).
Obstruction with the signal can be a big factor in slow performance, too. If you live in an apartment, your home might be inundated with signals from routers of your neighbors. Maybe structural interference is the reason for slower performance of your router. Electrical gadgets like microwaves, refrigerators, washing machines, dryers etc., if they lie between your wifi router and your Wifi device then they can cause obstruction to the signal’s strength and consequently slower speed on your device.
May be you are using the same channel as your neighbors are using so your router becomes slow to compete with them and gives you poor signal strength. Or maybe it’s the software you’re using, because just like everything else routers also need software updates—and sometimes the firmware they initially ship with is updated in a latest-release version of the router.
These are just a few of the possible reasons your internet connection might be poor (or nonexistent). But, luckily there are many ways to boost your wifi signal, and most of them simply involve a bit of modification to your wireless network. Few involve buying reasonably affordable components and few are absolutely free. We’ll discuss in detail about most useful fixes for your internet connectivity woes.
Change the Channel
Wi-Fi routers operate on specific channels, when you set up a router, it generally chooses a certain channel by default, whereas the latest routers choose the least-crowded channel, but yours may not have that technology built-in. Check for yourself which Wi-Fi channel is the least crowded to boost your router’s performance. A good, free tool to use is inSSIDer. Just see the column “Channel.” See how many routers in this area are on channel 6 in the picture below? If your router is on the same channel, you need to switch it to a less-crowded one (routers generally operate on channels 1, 6, and 11 at the 2.4GHz band), so that you can get a better performance from your router. You can easily change the channel of your router by going into its interface. All routers have different ways to access the interface, so check with your router’s manufacturer.
Update Router Firmware
Updating router firmware is often ignored by home users, however, business networking devices generally show some sort of notification when newer software for the device is available for download. Consumer wireless routers, particularly older routers, don’t always show this notification. So, it is advisable to check often for firmware updates for your router. There is usually a section in the router’s interface for upgrading the firmware. Nonetheless, you often have to visit router manufacturer’s website and search for the firmware (most manufacturer’s make searching for firmware quite handy) and then upload it through the router’s interface. There are often associated release notes from you which can understand what the firmware helps to fix. These fixes mostly help solve connectivity and poor performance issues on your router.
Update Adapter Firmware
Just like routers, network adapters on PCs and laptops also need firmware updates to stay as good as new. Keep in mind, good wireless range and performance is dictated not just by the router but also by the network adapter on your device. Most laptops have on-board adapters, go into your Network settings to locate the name of the adapter (via the Control Panel in Windows OS) and then to that subsequent manufacturer’s website to make sure you have the latest firmware installed on your device.
Change the Router’s Position
If your router is somewhere in the basement or a place where your device is separated by a wall or anything like a steel cupboard you might face the performance issues. Ideally, a Wi-Fi router should be in a central location. If you need more flexibility in centrally positioning the router, you can purchase custom-length Ethernet Cat 5 cable and position your router in such a place where it can give you maximum signal and connectivity. If you do that, however, this is technically no longer a free option, of course you will get a better performance from your router.
Set Up a Second Router as an Access Point or Repeater
You can easily set up any router as a wireless access point (WAP). You need to connect the second router’s LAN port to the primary router’s LAN port, to do so. If your primary router’s IP address is 192.168.2.1 and its netmask is 255.255.255.0, you could make the second router’s IP 192.168.2.2 and use the same netmask. It’s also significant to keep in mind that you assign the same SSID and security on the second router and turn DHCP off on the second one as well.
Newer routers make this progression pretty easier. If you have a spare router that’s only a few years old, it can perhaps be set to work in “access point” or repeater mode to amplify your router’s signal strength and give you a better performance. Configuring is often as easy as clicking a button. You can also go for buying a dedicated access point. This is a more expensive option, but will save you some network-configuration complexities.
Newer 802.11n Wi-Fi routers are progressively more coming with internal antennas, but some still have external ones, and these antennas can often be upgraded. Consider a high-gain antenna, which you can position so that the Wi-Fi signal goes in the direction you want.
Repeaters and Extenders
Most key wireless networking device manufacturing companies offer devices that act as repeaters or wireless extenders. While they can boost a Wi-Fi signal, they can be complicated to set up, can cause obstruction with the signal, and can be costly. A good repeater or extender can cost you almost Rs. 10,000.
New Router & Adapters
Upgrading your home or business place’s Wi-Fi network to 802.11n and using the 5GHz band should give evident performance enhancement. 2.4GHz is said to in fact have larger range than the 5GHz band, but that only becomes perceptible when supplying wireless coverage to large areas, for example, college campuses or societies having few flats or apartments. In our router testing, for smaller areas, which are used in a typical home network, 802.11n and the 5GHz band usually delivered better throughout than 2.4GHz, at larger distances. It’s obviously a more costly option, but if wireless connectivity is important for you, it’s a reasonable one. If you go with an 802.11n router, you will of course, require to replace client adapters that don’t support “N” as well. USB-based 802.11n adapters are handy ways to revise a laptop that may have an older on-board adapter.
Manufacturers say that their products will work with other products very well. But it just makes sense that a manufacturer’s own products will be most compatible with other products produced by the same company. If possible, try to buy all your network devices from one manufacturer. That means not only your router or adapter, but also your antennas, repeaters, and access points, this way you will be more at ease for getting better performance from your Wi-Fi network.