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Internet Connections:

Want to Improve Your Home Wi-Fi?

Here's how to get the best wireless connection

You rely on your home Wi-Fi network to access the internet on your mobile devices, computers, tablets, printers, video game systems, TV set-top boxes, and more. If your wireless signal strength is slow or it frequently loses internet connection, that's a hassle you don't need. The good news is this: There are easy ways to boost your Wi-Fi signal strength and use your wireless devices anywhere in your house — or even outside in your yard.

Follow these tips to improve your home Wi-Fi and get faster, more reliable access:

Get a New Router
How many devices rely on Wi-Fi in your home? If several people live in your household, that number could be in the dozens. An outdated or entry-level router won't cut it in this case. It's probably time for an upgrade.

Like computers, routers wear out over time. Plus, router technology is continually being improved. That inexpensive 802.11g model you bought a few years ago was designed to handle just a few internet-ready devices. Today's 802.11ac models can handle 20 or more.

To ensure your router can hold up to the demands you put on it with all of your devices, equip your home with a newer model. And remember, you'll probably need to replace it again in a few years.

Improve Your Digital Security
You know you need to put a password on your router to protect you from hackers. What you might not realize is that password-protecting your Wi-Fi network will also keep other people from using it and slowing down your connection. Remember, the more devices that connect to your Wi-Fi, the more the signal strength is depleted.

To see if anyone outside your household is leeching off of your wireless network, check the attached devices in your router settings. If you see devices that you don't recognize, change your password.

Choose the Right Channel
Channel 6 is the default setting for most routers. Since many people don't even realize they can set their router to a different channel, channel 6 is also the most likely to be congested. Changing to a different channel is a quick and easy way to possibly boost your Wi-Fi strength.

Log into your router's settings and view the broadcast channel. You should see that it's on channel 1, 6, or 11. Switch it to one of the other channels and see if that makes a difference in your wireless connection speed.

In addition to having different channels, routers also have different frequencies. In general, 2.4 GHz is better for wireless connectivity in multi-level homes, while 5 GHz works faster in smaller homes.

Check Your Internet Speed
If your wireless connection speed is snail-like, talk to your internet service provider about a speed upgrade. The internet plan you selected a year or two ago may now be too slow for your needs. If your internet speed is sufficient, however, your old router might have a speed cap that's limiting the maximum internet speed possible in your home. In that case, it's time for a new router.

Make Sure Your Firmware is Up to Date
Firmware is the software your router needs in order to function. Many wireless routers will notify you when it's time for an update, but some don't. Check your router settings regularly to ensure your firmware is up to date. If new firmware is available, follow the instructions in your router's manual to update it on your router.

Consider Your Bandwidth Hogs
Some applications use more bandwidth than others. Online games and video streaming apps can hog your bandwidth. Most routers come with media prioritization or Quality of Service (QoS) options to address this. Check your instruction manual to learn more about how to set up these rules.

Set Up Your Router for Optimal Internet Performance

  1. Pick the right location for your router. Place your router in the center of your home and away from brick, concrete, water, and windows, which can all interrupt the signal. If you have a two-story house, experts recommend you place your router on the first floor near the ceiling, or on the second floor near the ground.
  2. Reduce interference. Cordless phones, microwaves, and baby monitors can interrupt your wireless signal. Move your router away from these devices if possible. If this is not possible, consider buying a dual-band router model that can operate on another band.
  3. Amplify your signal with an extender. If you have a larger home, consider getting a wireless range extender to amplify your Wi-Fi signal. These inexpensive devices extend your router to wherever you need a Wi-Fi connection in your home.