Home Wi-Fi tips

Op­ti­mise your Wi-Fi con­nec­tion to make it faster and more re­li­able with th­ese ex­pert tips

Windows 7 Help & Advice - - WINDOWS 10 BOOST YOUR HOME WI-FI -

What if your PC’s wire­less con­nec­tion is slower than other parts of your net­work, or you strug­gle to main­tain a strong and con­sis­tent con­nec­tion? Well, then there are po­ten­tial is­sues with your Wi-Fi net­work’s range or pos­si­ble in­ter­fer­ence from other, over­lap­ping, net­works or de­vices.

The step-by-step guide on the page op­po­site re­veals how to use a free app called WiFi An­a­lyzer to help di­ag­nose is­sues with your con­nec­tion. The sta­tus screen re­veals two key pieces of in­for­ma­tion: your Wi-Fi net­work speed, and a fig­ure mea­sured in dBm (deci­bel-mili­watts). The speed re­veals your ac­tual speed ver­sus the the­o­ret­i­cal max­i­mum avail­able for that net­work – your ac­tual speed will al­ways be sig­nif­i­cantly lower than the the­o­ret­i­cal. The dBm fig­ure refers to your Wi-Fi sig­nal, and the lower it is the weaker the sig­nal.

Fix poor re­cep­tion

The num­bers you see are based on two fac­tors: the phys­i­cal lo­ca­tion of your router in re­la­tion to your PC, and the num­ber of over­lap­ping sig­nals from your neigh­bours’ Wi-Fi net­works. Your router’s phys­i­cal lo­ca­tion is crit­i­cal here, be­cause if it’s too far away from your PC – or there are phys­i­cal bar­ri­ers be­tween it and your PC (typ­i­cally solid walls) – then the sig­nal is too weak.

The ob­vi­ous so­lu­tion is to move your router closer to your PC if pos­si­ble – in­deed, now’s the time to work out the op­ti­mum po­si­tion for it in your home. A cen­tral lo­ca­tion is usu­ally best, but con­sider which rooms are most im­por­tant and de­ter­mine how many solid walls the sig­nal must pass through to reach them. You may also have to factor in in­ter­fer­ence from other wire­less de­vices that share the 2.4GHz fre­quency band – try switch­ing to 5GHz (see be­low) or re­plac­ing older de­vices with newer ones. For ex­am­ple, mod­ern wire­less DECT 6.0 phones trans­mit over 1.9GHz to avoid in­ter­fer­ence.

De­pend­ing on the size of your home and what it’s made from, the chances are you may have to com­pro­mise be­fore you can get a rea­son­able sig­nal to most parts of it, in which case check out the ‘Up­grade your net­work’ box for four up­grade op­tions to con­sider.

Re­duce con­ges­tion

An­other cause of slow per­for­mance is over­crowd­ing – th­ese days, what with your house­hold’s ever-grow­ing list of wire­less gad­gets from lap­tops and mo­biles to smart home se­cu­rity de­vices and smart TVs, you can eas­ily clog up your net­work through in­tense com­pe­ti­tion for band­width on your sin­gle 2.4GHz chan­nel.

If you have an 802.11ac router, then a sec­ondary rea­son for mov­ing de­vices on to the 5GHz net­work, where pos­si­ble, is to re­duce the load on each fre­quency. Re­mem­ber, though, that the 5GHz net­work has a smaller range than the older 2.4GHz one, and that older de­vices which use 802.11n and 802.11g Wi-Fi don’t sup­port it. But it’s a god­send for those that do.

It’s worth tak­ing an in­ven­tory of what de­vices are con­nected to your net­work – you may find some naughty neigh­bours pig­gy­back­ing on your con­nec­tion (in which case a change of pass­word should see them off), but it’s more likely you’ll sim­ply re­alise just how much net­worked equip­ment you have run­ning at the same time. The sim­plest way to gen­er­ate a list of con­nected de­vices is with a free pro­gram called Ad­vanced IP Scan­ner (www.ad­vancedip-scan­ner.com).

Find the best place in your home for your router.

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