If you’re looking for a way to extend, strengthen, or speed up your existing Wi-Fi and boost Wi-Fi performance, you’re in the right place! In this piece, we’ll explore 12 tips that cover how to boost Wi-Fi signal.
You will see many articles online promoting the benefits of placing your Wi-Fi router in a central location. This is a good tip if you are trying to determine how to increase Wi-Fi signal across a home or business that has Wi-Fi clients spread evenly across the premises.
This is a good rule of thumb. However, if most of your Wi-Fi clients are in one area (such as the waiting area of a doctor’s office or a living room full of smart devices), it makes more sense to place your Wi-Fi router there.
Wi-Fi signal boosters work by amplifying your existing Wi-Fi signal. These signal boosters are useful when addressing Wi-Fi coverage “dead spots”.
Wi-Fi standards can be hard to keep up with. Until recently, identifying different Wi-Fi speeds and frequencies required decoding different 802.11 standards. Fortunately, with the release of Wi-Fi 6 (a.k.a. 802.11ax) Wi-Fi versions are being categorized into easy to understand numerical versions (Wi-Fi 1, Wi-Fi 2, etc.). A higher Wi-Fi generally implies better maximum Wi-Fi speed and performance. Of course, your Wi-Fi client devices need to support the upgraded Wi-Fi versions to experience benefits.
Today, you’re likely to be looking at Wi-Fi routers that support one or more of these standards:
A note on max Wi-Fi speeds: as demonstrated in this Wi-Fi 6 article from The Verge, there isn’t really a hard and fast answer when it comes to max Wi-Fi speeds. Keep that in mind when reviewing Wi-Fi specifications.
The Wi-Fi adapter on your PC can lead to slow Wi-Fi speeds much in the same way an old router can. Fortunately, you don’t have to buy a new PC to boost Wi-Fi performance. You can get your PC up to speed by adding a new Wi-Fi network interface card that supports a modern Wi-Fi protocol. Many USB Wi-Fi adapters exist that make the process of updating your PC’s wireless hardware as simple as connecting a USB dongle.
This Wi-Fi boosting tip is fairly low-tech but can be highly effective. You should make sure only Wi-Fi devices that need to consume bandwidth on your network are. By reducing the amount of bandwidth consumed by non-critical devices, you can increase Wi-Fi performance for your remaining devices.
If you are in an area with many Wi-Fi devices and networks, this can lead to a lot of interference that degrades your Wi-Fi performance. This is because there are a limited number of Wi-Fi channels you can send data across. In high-traffic areas, like office buildings or apartment complexes, different networks can overlap with one another. If you change your Wi-Fi channel or frequency, you may be able to avoid some of the interference and improve your Wi-Fi performance.
Wi-Fi performance bottlenecks can often be created by outdated Wi-Fi router firmware. By upgrading your Wi-Fi router’s firmware, you can benefit from bug fixes and feature enhancements. This means that Wi-Fi router firmware upgrades offer a potentially quick and free way to boost Wi-Fi performance.
WAPs offer benefits that are similar to Wi-Fi signal boosters. The key difference is that WAPs connect to the network using a physical cable connection. The benefit of making this physical connection to the network is that WAPs can avoid much of the added latency of Wi-Fi boosters.
Quality of Service or QoS allows you to prioritize some traffic over others. QoS settings are configured at your Wi-Fi source (usually a Wi-Fi router). Setting QoS rules allow you to ensure your most critical applications are prioritized when data is sent over your Wi-Fi network. For example, if you are a gamer, you may want to prioritize traffic for your favorite games over all other traffic. Similarly, a business may wish to give the highest priority to VoIP (Voice over IP) calls.
Wi-Fi signals are simply radio waves. This means they have to pass through the air to enable communication. The more obstructions there are between a Wi-Fi source and a Wi-Fi client, the worse performance can become. Conversely, the more obstructions you remove, the more you can improve performance.
Since Wi-Fi is based on radio waves, it makes sense that it involves antennas. Of course, as you can tell by simply looking at many Wi-Fi devices, not all of them support aftermarket upgrades to their antenna. However, for those that do, an antenna upgrade can be a fairly quick and inexpensive way to boost your Wi-Fi performance.
If you’re comfortable with the risks, there are plenty of potential upsides to installing 3rd party open source router firmware like OpenWrt or DD-Wrt. One of the upsides is possibly improving your Wi-Fi performance. For example, a 3rd party router firmware may enable you to increase transmit power or unlock other features. Of course, the risk of operating the router outside of manufacturer recommendations should be considered before using a 3rd party firmware. For example, in the increased transmit power example, there is the related risk of burning out the transmitter.
There are many ways to improve Wi-Fi performance. Choose the tips that work for you!
As we have seen, there are many ways you can boost your Wi-Fi performance. However, there is no magic bullet that will serve as a cure-all for your Wi-Fi performance challenges. You’ll need to evaluate your existing hardware and environment and decide which tips work best for you.