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8 Ways to Boost Your Home's Wi-Fi

It may be easier than you think to enhance your Wi-Fi experience

Are you experiencing annoying Wi-Fi network issues such as slower than expected speeds, dropped Wi-Fi signals, or annoying dead zones? The trouble may not have anything to do with your internet service. It may stem from the Wi-Fi equipment in your home and how you use it.

Since having a fast and reliable Wi-Fi network is essential for all your family's devices — not to mention those of visiting family and friends — it's well worth it to spend a little time giving these tips a try.

Tip #1: Put Your Router in the Right
Place Location is everything when it comes to your Wi-Fi router. While you might be tempted to keep your network equipment out of sight, such as inside a TV cabinet or behind a sofa, that's not a good idea. The more obstructions there are between the router and the devices connecting to it, the weaker the signal will be. For the best signal, your router must be out in the open, preferably in the center of your home. Even placing your router a few feet above ground level can make a big difference.

Tip #2: Secure Your Router with A Password
The beauty of Wi-Fi is that anyone with a Wi-Fi-enabled device can connect to the network easily, but that can be a double-edged sword. The more devices on your Wi-Fi network at the same time, the heavier the network load, resulting in slower performance for everyone. To protect your network's resources, encrypt your Wi-Fi network with a strong password to prevent unauthorized users from accessing your network and piggybacking on your internet service without your permission.

QUICK TIP: If you have guests who require Wi-Fi access, you can set up a separate password-protected guest network and limit its range to control bandwidth usage.

Tip #3: Update Your Router's Firmware
Wi-Fi router manufacturers routinely update the router's underlying software to improve speed and performance as well as address potential security threats. That's why it's important to regularly check for updates to your router's firmware and make sure your router is always running on the latest version. Not only will you gain increased network efficiency through new and enhanced features, you'll also protect your router from unauthorized intrusions and dangerous malware that can steal bandwidth and infect other devices on the network.

Tip #4: Replace the Antenna
If your router uses an external antenna, you can replace it with a bigger one to achieve a stronger signal. (Similarly, if your router uses an internal antenna, you can add an external antenna to boost its signal.) You can use an omnidirectional antenna to send a signal in all directions or a directional antenna to target one specific direction, which is useful if you know you have a dead zone spot in your coverage.

FAST FACT: A Wi-Fi analyzer tool is an app that provides detailed information about your wireless network. Search for "wi-fi analyzer" in your search engine of choice to see your options.

Tip #5: Use a Less Crowded Channel
Most people don't realize that their Wi-Fi router can broadcast on more than one channel, and therefore, they never change the default setting. If your neighbors are using the same channel for their Wi-Fi routers, you'll quickly end up in an "internet traffic jam" and everyone's signals may start to degrade. There are free Wi-Fi analyzer tools you can use to determine which channel is being used the least, so you can switch your router to it.

Tip #6: Prioritize Your Apps
Not all applications are created equal, and some are very bandwidth intensive. It only takes one or two bandwidth-hungry apps to slow download and upload times for everyone on the same Wi-Fi network. Use the Quality of Service (QoS) settings on your router to make sure the right applications get priority, so your video call with your Mom won't drop because someone else on the network is downloading a large file.

Tip #7: Buy a Wi-Fi Repeater
Also referred to as Wi-Fi boosters and extenders, WiFi repeaters basically take a Wi-Fi signal, amplify it, and transmit it again. They're affordable and can be installed in a few minutes.

Tip #8: Don't Forget to Reboot
The timeless IT advice, "If it doesn't work, try switching it on and off," also applies to Wi-Fi routers. A simple reboot is often enough to considerably improve your Wi-Fi speeds. A reboot clears the router's memory and allows updates to install.

Improving your home Wi-Fi performance doesn't necessarily have to mean upgrading your internet plan or replacing your existing equipment. With a few simple DIY tweaks, you may be able to turn a sluggish Wi-Fi network into more of a high-speed hub for all of your household's streaming, gaming, posting, emailing, and more.

If you'd rather not tackle Wi-Fi maintenance and troubleshooting on your own, check with your ISP (Internet Service Provider) to ask about managed Wi-Fi service.