“Come onnnnn…..” is a refrain you hear often in my home when someone is trying to load a web page and it just. Won’t. Appear. Why is slow Wi-fi such a common problem, and what can you do to troubleshoot?
O Router, where art thou?
Where the router is can greatly impact the speed at which it operates. Place your router as close to the center of your home as you can, ideally high up and on a flat surface. And while the distance between your router and your device is important, so is what lies between. Items like heavy furniture, an aquarium or a giant potted ficus can block the wireless signal. Your wireless signal wants to go straight and clean, like an ex-con, so help it out. Be especially mindful of metal objects, because they can bounce the signal all over the place. Hmm, might need to move that decorative suit of armor…
If you’ve optimized all that and you still don’t have the range you want, a Wi-Fi range extender boosts slow Wi-Fi speeds and coverage. Here are two good ones:
For a large home or to extend coverage onto a patio or deck, try the Linksys AC1200 Max Wi-Fi Range Extender. It can extend the range Wi-Fi up to 10,000 feet.
If you have a bunch of kids gaming at home in your living room, consider plugging in this Netgear N300. It goes right into a normal wall socket and boosts your existing network so it can cover more mobile phones and game consoles.
What’s the Frequency?
Most Wi-Fi in North America uses 2.4GHz band as the default frequency. It can get crowded there, particularly if you live in an apartment building or urban area. And wireless signals from your neighbor’s baby monitor or Bluetooth device could also be elbowing their way onto the same frequency as your Wi-Fi. Consider getting a router that can switch to 5GHz instead.
Within those frequencies, there are multiple channels—just like on a television—so you can also change the channel that your router is using. The inSSIDer app, available for Windows or Mac, can show you signal strength, channel conflicts and access points.
Lock & Key
You’ll loan them a cup of sugar and all, but a bunch of neighbors piggybacking on your Wi-Fi will slow it down (not to mention make your home computers vulnerable to attack). Make sure you have a strong password on your WiFi so that a passerby can’t hop onto your network.
Check what apps are running in the background. Is someone watching Netflix? Uploading family videos to Dropbox? Heavy downloads can slow your Wi-Fi to a crawl. If you know you’re downloading something massive, you might want to plug into your Ethernet connection and give your Wi-Fi a break.
Get Your Antennae Up
Routers come with a built-in antenna, but that doesn’t mean you can’t unscrew it and replace with something more powerful. The Internet is awash with DIY antenna hacks using Pringles cans, coffee cans and beer cans… but you know what? You can just buy one: This inexpensive version by TP-Link is easy to install and effective.
Sometimes the best medicine for slow Wi-fi is to update your router’s firmware. Find the make and model of your router (usually on the bottom), and visit the manufacturer’s website to make sure it’s up to date, or download the upgrade.
What tips and tricks have you found to remedy slow Wi-fi? Lemme know below.