With Google’s OnHub router attracting a lot of press lately, we thought it’d be a good time to run down some easy ways you can improve your Wi-Fi signal without having to plunk down $200 bucks for a fancy new toy.
Without question, the OnHub router introduces a number of compelling new features, but the reality is that most folks will likely stick with whatever router their ISP gave them at sign-up. If you fall into this category, the following tips should be helpful.
1) Move your router to a central location
One of the first things you can do to improve your Wi-Fi signal is to move your router to a central location. Because many routers antennas are omnidirectional, which is to say they send out signals in every direction, strategically placing your router in centralized location is key. On the flip side, placing a router in an upstairs or downstairs corner is going to result in a weaker signal at the opposite end of your house or apartment.
2) Get your router off the floor and let it breathe
In a similar vein, try to keep your router off the floor, and definitely don’t stack any papers or other electronics on top of it. A router relegated to the floor, and buried underneath mountains of junk, can diminish what would otherwise be a strong Wi-Fi connection.
On a related note, make sure that your router is not only elevated, but is in an open space. In other words, try to avoid putting it in an enclosed space, like the back portion of a bookshelf, for example.
3) Keep your router away from other electronics
It’s always a smart idea to keep your router as far away from other electronics devices as possible, particularly devices that transmit information at 2.4 GHz. Translation? Make a point to keep your router at a safe distance from microwaves, cordless phones, video game controllers, TV remotes, and baby monitors. Failing to do so can result in a discernible degradation of Wi-Fi strength.
This tip is especially useful if you happen to be using an older model router without dual-band wireless.
4) Get a Wi-Fi Extender
Also known as repeaters, a Wi-Fi extender is a device that can pick up a signal from your router and re-transmit it, thereby increasing your overall Wi-Fi range. As far as placement goes, the device should strategically be located somewhere between your router and where you’re planning on doing a lot of mobile computing. The device is particularly helpful if you happen to have a single room or area of your house that doesn’t get a strong Wi-Fi signal.
Price wise, it’s possible to pick up a solid Wi-Fi extender for less than $100, making this a strong option to consider if you’re looking to expand your Wi-Fi signal as far as you can. In some instances, a Wi-Fi extender can more than double your range.
5) Get a new router
Out of habit and convenience, most people use the router that their ISP provided them. That’s all well and good, but if you’re still using the same router you were given 5-6 years ago, it’s time to upgrade.
For starters, router performance can degrade over time as heat stress will invariably take a toll on a router’s internal components. Especially if the original router your ISP provided was cheap to begin with, it may be high-time to get something new.
Additionally, and just as important, a new router ensures that you can take advantage of new wireless technologies, both from a performance (range and speed) and security standpoint. Incidentally, if you find yourself having to restart your router fairly frequently, say once a month or more, it’s probably time to upgrade.
6) Make sure you have a password enabled
This should hopefully go without saying, but if you don’t have a password protecting your Wi-Fi network, pesky neighbors and passersby may be mooching your connection and slowing down your overall performance.