Is your Wi-Fi speed still slow? Are you still experiencing network drop outs? We have even more tips to help you boost your Wi-Fi network’s signal strength!
Set up a wireless repeater
If your router cannot broadcast a good signal from one end of your network to the other, get a wireless repeater to pick up your router’s Wi-Fi signal—and repeat it. The device connects to your wireless router as a regular client and gets an IP address over DHCP as your regular laptop or PC.
Follow tip #1 in the first part of this blog post series. Then place the repeater as close as possible to the best signal spot and make sure it can pick up at least 80% of the signal from your main router; otherwise it won’t be able to repeat a good quality signal.
There are many repeaters available for purchase. Don’t be confused by the different names for the component; some companies call them “range extenders” and others call them “Wi-Fi expanders”, but they’re all the same. Make sure to pick one that re-broadcasts and is compatible with your 802.11n signal. Since there is no standard for repeaters, I’d suggest sticking with one made by the same company that supplied your router.
Every manufacturer has different setup procedures, but in general they all require only your Wi-Fi network name (SSID) and password. Connect your PC to the repeater using an Ethernet cable, insert a setup CD, and enter the default IP address of your repeater. You should see a wizard that asks you which signal it should repeat—choose your network and enter the password. That should be it! Remember to disconnect your PC after you’re finished.
Optimize Wi-Fi settings
There are many complicated settings (both on the router and the local Wi-Fi adapter) that you can use to optimize your signal strength. Unfortunately, every manufacturer offers different options under a different name, so we’ll just give a handful of hints that explain where to look and what to look for. There are also some default settings that you should look for.
5 GHz Wireless Mode
If your router and the adapter use it, I’d recommend enabling a 5 GHz Wi-Fi network instead of using the regular 2.4 GHz setting. Devices that support this mode are often called dual-band routers. Since most Wi-Fi routers communicate at a frequency of 2.4 GHz, using the quieter 5 GHz mode might give you better throughput.
Open up your router configuration website by typing in its IP address and entering the user name and password you set initially, and go to the wireless configuration page. Try to find the settings for your 5 GHz network and enable it.
“Request to Send” (RTS) Threshold
An RTS is sent by the client to the access point (AP); it essentially asks for permission to send the next data packet. The AP in turn sends back the “Clear to Send” (CTS) packet. The RTS threshold value is commonly found in the router configuration menu and determines what size data packet the wireless protocol issues to an RTS packet. The lower the threshold, the more stable your Wi-Fi network, since it essentially makes requests more often when sending packets. However, if you don’t have problems with your Wi-Fi, you should make sure that the RTS threshold is set to the maximum setting. Go to your router or your Wi-Fi device configuration in your device manager, find the RTS threshold value, and set it to 2347. Lower this value if you’re experiencing problems with your network.
This value is used to set the maximum size of packet a client will send. Smaller packets improve reliability, but they also decrease performance. Unless you’re facing problems with an unreliable network, we recommend not reducing the fragmentation threshold. Make sure it is set to the default setting (usually 2346).
Enable Multimedia/Gaming Settings
Some wireless adapters can be configured either for regular use or for gaming/multimedia use. If you’re streaming videos or playing games, enabling the appropriate setting will ensure that network packets for these scenarios get the highest priority. In other words, if you’re watching a video file over your network, the video will get most of the traffic, and all of the other programs on the network will run slower. You’ll find this setting right under your network device entry in Device Manager when clicking on “Advanced”.
Benchmark and diagnose your Wi-Fi
Our last tip is not an optimization technique per se, but it’s a great way to determine if our tips in this blog post and in our previous one are having a positive effect on your Wi-Fi network signal. Free QCheck is a great tool to determine exactly that: it’ll show you response times, throughput, and the streaming performance of your wireless setup. You can easily get it from this website by completing a short form.
Enter your IP address under “Endpoint 1″ and another IP address in your network under “Endpoint 2″ to test the speed.
Replace your router’s antenna
Some router manufacturers sell external antennas that are much stronger than the router’s built-in one. If your signal is weak in places (and all of our other tips have failed), then you’ll need to check if your manufacturer sells either omnidirectional or directional antennas.
These send out signals in all directions. By default, most built-in antennas are omnidirectional. If an omnidirectional antenna is your choice, look for a longer one with high gain.
This antenna type sends a good wireless signal in a certain direction (like that of your clients). It’s like pointing a flashlight in a certain direction instead of using an overhead or ceiling light.
To connect the antenna, you’ll usually use the SMA connector or MMCX. For more on wireless antennas, there is no better place than the “Do-It-Yourself Wireless Antenna Update” website by BinaryWolf. You’ll find how-to guides and hardware recommendations to help you pick the best antenna and the right setup.That’s it! Using these tips and tricks will definitely improve your Wi-Fi performance and experience.
Do you have another tip for boosting wireless network signal strength and speed? Let us know!
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