Digital Crave

5 tips for improving your home’s Wi-Fi performance

wireless wifi Wi-Fi router

It may sound like a daunting task, but setting up a wireless network in your home is a lot easier (and cheaper) than you think.

For as low as $15, in fact, web surfers can purchase a wireless router, connect it to their broadband modem and then wirelessly access the Internet on any compatible device in the home, such as a laptop at the kitchen table, iPad in the bedroom or a video game system in the family room.

Aside from multiple computers and other devices sharing the same high-speed Internet connection – without being tethered to the wall -- another advantage of setting up a "Wi-Fi" network is the ability to share the same peripheral between computers, such as a printer.

But you already know this, you say? You’ve owned a wireless router for years? Perhaps, then, you’re still reading this blog post because you’re in need of improving the Wi-Fi experience in your home.

If so, the following are a few tips to extending the range and the strength of your wireless network:

Reposition your wireless router.

Try to place your wireless router in a central place in your home, so that its range will cover your entire home and perhaps even a front porch or back patio. Many try to surf the Net wirelessly on a laptop on one end of the home while the wireless router is at the other. Or you might find a weak connection if your wireless router is in the basement and you’re trying to access it on the top floor of your home; generally speaking, if you can't use it on your main floor, it's recommended to keep the router higher than you opposed to underneath you.

Try to avoid wireless interference.

Move the wireless router off the floor and away from walls and metal objects (such as a filing cabinet) as these may interfere with your router's wireless signals. Remove potential obstructions to strengthen your connection. Another way to reduce interference is to try and avoid using other wireless devices while accessing the Net, such as cordless phones and microwave ovens -- though this is less of an issue with newer routers (see below). Also, if your wireless router has an external antenna it might be possible to unscrew it and attach a more powerful, hi-gain one, found at your local electronics store.

Pick up a wireless repeater.

If you can’t change where your wireless network is, because you need it near your broadband modem is, and you have a large home, you might want to consider buying a wireless repeater -- sometimes referred to as a signal booster, network bridge or range extender (and may work a little differently) -- and placing it about half-way between where your wireless router is and where you access the wireless connection the most, such as a kitchen table, home office or media room. A wireless repeater, which simply plugs into a wall’s electrical socket, will work to extend the range of the signal.

Upgrade your wireless adaptor.

If your wireless experience varies on which device you’re using, perhaps it’s because one device might have a better wireless network adaptor than the other. For example, if your TV or video game console has a Wi-Fi dongle for Internet access, there might be a faster one you can pick up. Your next ebook reader or tablet will likely support faster Wi-Fi connectivity, too. Also be sure to download newer drivers or firmware updates for your existing devices, so that it has the latest improvements from the manufacturer. Also, some believe a wireless adaptor and router from the same company, such as Linksys or D-Link, will work better together than products from separate companies.

Upgrade to 802.11ac or at least 802.11n.

Finally, it might be time to make the jump from 802.11b or 802.11g to the latest technology, 802.11ac, which not only offers greater speeds –- especially those who want to wireless stream video over the airwaves or transfer large files between multiple computers -– but also covers a greater range, such as those who live in a larger home. These routers also support more simultaneous devices, offer less interference and have stronger security options, too. Because your wireless router has a broader range with 802.11ac (and 802.11n, which came before it), be sure you’re using a secure password so neighbors can’t access your network.

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