There’s nothing more frustrating than slow speeds – luckily there are lots of solutions to better connectivity in your home.
Fast, reliable internet is as important a utility today as electricity and running water. Whether you need electrifyingly fast download speeds, super sharp Zoom calls, or a way to stop the kids complaining, our Wi-Fi guide will help you achieve searingly fast speeds.
Why is my internet speed so slow?
There are many reasons why your internet might be going at a snail’s pace. The main culprits are an outdated modem or router, too many devices trying to access the internet at the same time, physical objects obstructing the wireless signal, or a sluggish DNS server.
Slow Wi-Fi is rarely caused by poor signal speed entering your property. Fortunately, most of the issues mentioned are quick fixes you can do from home.
How can I improve wireless signal at home?
So, what can be done about it? The good news is, you don’t need to put up slow internet speed. This isn’t the 90s! Here are 13 ways to boost Wi-Fi signal strength in your home.
1. Install a Cabling System
We’re going to be upfront; there’s no contest between wi fi and wired internet. Cable will always be more reliable than a wireless connection because Wi-Fi is subject to a range of network interference.
A cable maintains a consistent connection between the internet and your connected device, regardless of what else is happening. You won’t need to wait for Netflix to buffer or worry about uploading work assignments when other people in your household are using the wi fi network.
As long as the incoming internet is fast enough (see tip 12), you’ll experience uninterrupted service on all your devices 24/7.
If you want your home to be smart i.e. smart lighting, security, and entertainment, then a reliable connection is even more important. Wired connections are nearly impossible to hack into compared to Wi-Fi, which can be accessed easily by strangers near or visiting your home.
If you’re not ready for an all-encompassing solution yet, don’t fret. You’ll likely see an improvement by trying some of the tips below.
2. Check Your Wired Connection
Bemoaning dodgy internet? It could be outdated gear that’s at fault!
Test the speed of the internet coming into your house with an Ethernet cable. Connect your computer directly to the router with the Ethernet cable then run a speed test. If the wi fi network speed doesn’t match what’s quoted on your bill then the internet coming into your home isn’t performing as it should.
If the speed test does match then there’s a high chance your router or modem is outdated. Try the test again wirelessly. Standing next to the router but still receiving a poor signal? Upgrade your gear to fix the problem (especially if you’ve had a router for several years).
If the signal is good next to the router but poor elsewhere in the house then Wi-Fi coverage is the issue. Read on for tips on how to solve this issue.
3. Boost Wi-Fi Signal with a Clear Path
Did you know that walls and objects can block wi fi signals? Try removing any objects that block your computer’s ‘line of sight’ to the router. Placing the router on a shelf or wall mount can also help create a clear path for the signal.
Glass can also bounce the Wi-Fi signal around the room! Either move the router away from windows or mirrors or cover the signal-obstructing glass.
Living in an old property with thick stone walls drastically reduces Wi-Fi signal. Pipes, ducts, and wall studs can also cause havoc. If you can’t move house (joke), move the router as close to the connected device as possible and keep doors open to help create a signal pathway.
3. Update Your Wi-Fi Frequency to 5 GHz
The 5 GHz frequency band has a higher data rate, which could improve a weak wifi signal and the consistency of your wireless network. The downside is it’s poorer range, so combine this step with the tips above to make the most of 5 GHz.
To switch to 5 GHz log into your router’s admin account online and look for the ‘wireless band setting’ then select 5 GHz option.
4. Update The Router Firmware
If your wireless router isn’t running to latest firmware it’ll probably perform poorly. Update your router’s firmware by typing its IP address into your computer’s browser. You’ll be prompted to log in. Next, either click the firmware upgrade button or download the latest update from the router manufacturers. Reboot your computer to complete the process.
Updating the firmware in your wireless router is important for another reason: security. Millions of computers are hacked every year thanks to outdated firmware no longer blocking threats. Updating is quick, easy and gives your Wi-Fi a boost, so there’s no reason not to!
5. Encrypt to Deter Wi-Fi Vampires
You might not know it but your neighbour is harbouring a dark secret – they’re sucking the life from your wi fi!
It doesn’t matter if they’re pleasant and friendly in-person, or that they have their own Wi-Fi connection – they’re thirsty for an open, fast internet speed. The best way to protect yourself from these connectivity vampires is to encrypt your Wi-Fi network. This simply means setting up a strong password to access the internet.
If you’re worried about visitors accessing your wi-fi you can set up a guest network with a different password or change your network password regularly.
6. Cut Off Bandwidth Bandits
Neighbours aren’t the only thieves you need to worry about. Apps can loot an excessive amount of bandwidth, which you’ll notice when download and upload speeds crunch to a halt or the ‘spinning wheel of doom’ appears when you’re trying to game or watch a film.
Most modern routers allow you to apprehend the thieving bandits and prioritise bandwidth where it’s needed with Quality of Service (QoS). You’ll find the QoS settings in your router menu. Watch Netflix without interruptions, regardless of who else in the house is downloading large files or streaming YouTube.
7. Buy A Wi-Fi Booster
Wi fi boosters, also known as extenders, amplify your wi fi signal and create a second wireless network. Wi fi repeaters are similar, although they simply extend your existing network and have a weaker range than wifi boosters. Booster apps can help amplify the signal further.
They’re easy to install and typically cost between £35 – £130.
8. Change The Wi-Fi Channel
Much like a radio, there are different channels a Wi Fi router can broadcast on. Your router’s frequency band and your geographical location will determine which frequency band you’re on.
In the UK there are three wireless channel bands: A,B, and C.
Within these bands are channels ranging from 1 – 161.
Most people stick to the default channel. The trouble with this is that too many users on the same channel causes a jam! To give your wireless network a fighting chance, pick a channel that’s less busy. Bands A and B are license free, but be aware that you’ll need to request permission from Ofcom to operate 5 GHz on Band C! The good news is it’s a steal at £50 for up to 50 devices.
To switch your router to a new channel:
- Type your router’s IP address into your browser bar
- Enter the router’s username
- Open ‘Wireless Settings’ and click ‘Channels’
- Change your wi fi to a less crowded channel (1, 6, or 11 for 2.4 GHz or 36, 40, 44, 48 for 5 GHz)
- Hit ‘Save’
9. Upgrade To A New Router
Are you still using the wi fi router your internet service came with? If so, then it’s time to upgrade to a new router. Wireless technology develops continually. Therefore, to access consistent high-speeds and use multiple devices seamlessly within your home, you’ll need the latest wireless gear. Older models won’t integrate with smart technology like TVs and phones, either.
Bear in mind that you get what you pay for. A decent budget will get you QoS settings, guest networks, external antenna, an Ethernet port, and multi-user input and output (MU-MIMO). Cheap routers without these features are a waste of money in our opinion, and they won’t solve your connectivity issues.
Aim to upgrade your router every five years to keep up with new technology.
10. Try A Mesh Network
Mesh network wi fi sounds more complicated than it is! Simply put, a mesh system consists of your main router and several ‘satellites’ that boost your wi fi coverage throughout the home. You can upgrade one satellite at a time, judge how the internet performs, and add more if needed.
11. Change The DNS Address
One of the easiest ways to boost your wi fi signal coverage is by changing your Domain Name System (DNS) address. Think of DNS as the internet’s Yellowpages. We access websites via domain names like youtube.com whereas web browsers use IP addresses. DNS converts domain names to IP addresses to access the websites we’re looking for.
However, this process often collects more data than necessary, which leads to slow speeds and privacy issues. To boost your wi fi and keep your browsing data private you can manually change the DNS address in your router’s settings.
Find the fastest DNS server with DNS Speed Benchmark.
12. Switch To A Better Internet Service Provider
If you’ve been on the same internet plan for several years, contact your service provider for an upgrade. Chances are you have a lot more devices connecting to the internet than when you first took out your current plan. Smartphones, laptops, tablets, and smart home appliances like smart switches and bulbs all have an impact on wi-fi performance.
Most of the time, internet service providers are happy to upgrade customers. However, if they can’t offer you the service you need it’s time to switch. Uswitch is a reliable source of the best internet packages available in the UK today.
13. A Timeless Tip…
“Have you tried switching the router off and on?”
Annoying as it might sound, a simple reboot is sometimes all your Wi-Fi need to get going again. A reboot gives the router a chance to update essential updates and declutter its memory.
Disconnect your router from the power or simply press the restart button (usually recessed into the back of the router so it’s not nudged accidentally). After 10 seconds switch the router back on. This might take half an hour if the router needs to install updates. Run a speed test afterwards – you should notice an improvement in wifi speed.
If all else fails we highly recommend reverting to tip number 1.
Cabling your entire home might sound like a hassle, but trained professionals make the process easy. If you’ve been tearing your hair out trying to work from home or simply want to enjoy listening to music with a glass of wine without interruption from your kids gaming, it’s worth the investment.
John Ross Smart Living are connectivity experts. We can hardwire your home so that you never have to worry about weak signal again. Wi fi technology is advancing all the time, so it’s peace of mind to know that your home connectivity is future-proofed.
For a smart solution to Wi-Fi woes, get in touch.