No one likes slow Wi-Fi. If your movies or shows get interrupted by buffering, your conference calls are delayed when working from home, or you’ve had to wait an entire day for a new game to download, you know how frustrating a slow internet connection can be.
Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do to improve the speed of your home Wi-Fi, so don’t throw your router out of the window just yet. Try out the options below to enjoy a faster internet connection.
First: Test your connection speed
An important first step is to test the current speed of your Wi-Fi before trying any of the fixes to improve it. This will allow you to do a before and after comparison, to see how much faster your Wi-Fi is.
The easiest way to test the speed of your internet connection is with a connection speed checker. You may want to re-run the test to note the speeds you can achieve in a few different locations around your home to see the effect of increasing or decreasing distance from the router.
1. Move your router to a better location
Wi-Fi speed is affected by your device’s distance from the router. For example, you may experience a weaker signal in the parts of your house that are furthest away.
Home Wi-Fi signal range is finite and will depend on your particular router, but will be severely shortened by any walls it encounters. Try moving your router to a central location where the signal has a better chance to make its way to every corner of your home.
You may feel limited by the location of your ADSL wall socket/phone line, but investing in a longer ethernet cable can give you more flexibility on router location which can improve speeds in certain areas of the house. Cable clips are useful for securely running an ethernet cable along walls, ceilings and around doors. Another option is to purchase a Wi-Fi range extender to improve the Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home.
Whatever you do, don’t keep your router hidden away in a cupboard. Even if it isn’t the most pleasant thing to look at, having your router inside a walled space will significantly reduce the signal strength and range. Elevating your router from the ground and moving it away from walls will also allow the signal to get around your home better.
2. Update your router firmware
Manufacturers are always improving the performance and signal range of their routers with firmware updates. With most modern routers, you‘ll be able to download and install updates straight from the web settings, which can be accessed from your browser. Follow these steps to access your router’s web settings and update the firmware:
- Type the IP address of your router into your web browser’s address bar – this may be on the router’s label or you may need to get it from your internet provider
- Next, type in the username and password you were given when you installed your router. If you don’t remember them, they are likely to be written on the back of your router
- Once you’re inside the router web interface, find the Firmware Update section. This will look different depending on which router you have but is usually accessible from somewhere on the main page of your router settings
- Follow the steps to update the firmware of your particular router
4. Upgrade your router hardware
If you’ve had your router for a few years, it might be time for an upgrade. The newest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard came out a couple of years ago and is significantly faster than the older 802.11g and 802.11n standards. If your router doesn’t support 802.11ac, buying a new one that does could provide a major improvement to your Wi-Fi speed.
New routers also receive regular performance and security updates, which continually optimise your connection speed and security – for example, stopping new types of cyber attack from getting through.
A router with more or larger antennae can also help ensure that your Wi-Fi strength is maintained throughout the home.
4. Change your channel
Wi-Fi routers can use one of many different wireless channels to communicate with your devices. When routers are installed, they’ll normally check which channels are already in use in your local area and automatically choose one of the free channels.
However, any new routers installed in your local area might have chosen the same channel as yours, creating congestion. To make sure your speed isn’t suffering because of a congested channel, you might want to find a new one to connect to.
To see which wireless channels are being used in your area, you can use the command prompt on your Windows device. Follow these steps to find the least congested channel in your area and switch your router to use it:
- Press the Windows key (between CTRL and ALT) + R on your keyboard
- Type in cmd in the small window that pops up and press Enter
- In the command prompt, type: netsh wlan show networks mode=bssid
- You will be presented with a list of local Wi-Fi networks as well as information on which channel they are using, allowing you to see which ones are least congested
- Head back to your router settings by entering the router’s IP address into your browser’s address bar.
- Find the option to switch channels – it is usually under ‘Wireless’ or ‘Advanced settings.’ Set your router to use a channel that’s not being used by other local Wi-Fi networks.
5. Buy a Wi-Fi adapter
If you’ve had your laptop for more than a couple of years, it might not support the newest and fastest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard. If this is the case, you can buy an external adapter that supports the new standard and can provide a significant boost in speed. You will also need to ensure that your router supports 802.11ac to benefit from it.
Newer laptops can also benefit from Wi-Fi adapters if they are far away from the router. Most adapters have external antennae that you can adjust the position of, for optimal signal and to give you the best chance of finding a good connection.
USB Wi-Fi adapters can be found online for less than £15. Simply plug one into a USB slot on your PC and install the drivers that accompany it, and your WiFi speed should see an improvement.
6. Clean up your devices
Sometimes, it isn’t your Wi-Fi itself that’s the issue – it’s the devices you’re connecting to it with. Build-ups of unused files, cookies and shortcuts are just a few of the things that can clog up your device’s memory and reduce your browsing speeds.
If you can’t face manually sorting through all the junk you no longer need, or you’re just not sure what’s junk and what’s an important system file, things like PC cleanup tools are invaluable. Apps, browsers, toolbars, disk files and more can be filtered through to remove anything that’s wasting space. Freezing and crashing are serious problems when you’re trying to carry out tasks online, and if changing channels and upgrading your router is having no impact, tackling your devices should do the trick.
Following the above steps should boost the speed of your internet connection in no time. Have you come across any other methods that help with the speed of your home Wi-Fi?