They say one can really test the patience of a person by putting them on a slow (really slow) internet connection. If they manage to make it through without pulling their hair out, you know they are the one. Having spent my school life with an internet connection as slow as 256 kbps, I truly know the value of a fast one. The joy of watching videos without the ‘wheel of death’ appearing on YouTube, the happiness of not losing video games because of constant lag, the thrill of Skyping your friends and actually seeing their faces instead of just massive pixels on the screen. And because of that, when I stumbled upon a few very useful tips and tricks on how to make your interweb faster, I just had to share them with you gaiz. Because, you know, sharing is caring, and caring (in this context) stands for faster internet. For everybody!!!
1. Make sure your router isn’t feeling lonely lying on the ground.
Lift it up. Make it feel wanted. After all, it is only one of the five most important things in life. Actually, there are two reasons why it’s not ideal to have your router directly on the floor. One, most routers are designed to broadcast signals slightly downward as they travel from its antenna. Additionally, they can’t easily penetrate some solid materials, like your floors. Experts suggest having your router at least a few feet off the ground — perhaps on a table or bookshelf. This is also why you shouldn’t put it in the basement, especially if you have a multi-story house and a concrete foundation.
2. Try putting your router in the centre of your house.
Of course not smack-bang in the middle of the house. Not only will it look weird AF, but you’ll end up tripping on it every now and then. A router sends out signals in all directions, so putting it in a corner of your house or apartment, or near a window means that a significant amount of its signal is wasted. You might only have a network connection in one spot, like I do, but network cables come for real cheap, and moving the router a little central can significantly improve quality.
3. You should put it in the room you use it the most in.
No matter where you put it, the signal will be the strongest in the room it is in. So best would be to put it in a spot that’s relatively near the center of your house and in a room in which you actually use wifi-connected devices. Like your media room, or where your PS4 nests.
4. Make sure it isn’t getting covered by anything
Keep the router out in the open. I mean, if it’s getting covered by curtains, cupboards, or any other large pieces of furniture, it’s not really helping. The router’s signal can be absorbed by many materials, so you want to have it out in the open as much as possible. Radio waves travel best through open air, so if you can see the router from far away, and from many different angles, you’re using it efficiently.
5. Keep it away from other electronic devices. It feels jealous.
Electronic devices fiddle with your router’s signal. That includes all sorts of electronic devices like TVs, microwaves etc. Keeping it right behind the TV isn’t a great idea. It’s best to keep a distance. Large metal objects, and water also hamper the signal, so avoid.
6. Try positioning the antennas a bit differently
Not randomly though. Specifically, one vertically, and the other horizontally. The router’s signal spreads out in the direction perpendicular to that of the antennas, therefore, logic says, vertically-oriented antennas will broadcast the signal horizontally, covering more of your house. Now experts say that most laptops have horizontally-aligned antennas inside, but a phone or tablet’s might be positioned in a different way depending on how we hold it. Putting one router antenna in a vertical position, and the other in a horizontal, can cover all your bases, while still spreading the signal as broadly in your house as possible.
7. See how strong your signal is
Not complicated at all, thanks to a number of apps out there. A couple that are recommended are apps like Cloudcheck or Amped’s Wi-Fi Analytics. These allow you to map your house, and figure out where it’s weak. Might help you with clues to position your router better.
8. Check to see if your internet provider is playing the villain
If you feel that it’s your service provider who’s playing the villain in the love affair between you and high-speed internet, here’s a good way to know for sure. Run a speed test under two conditions: over the wifi, and with your computer plugged directly into the router via an Ethernet cable. If they’re both slow, then talking to your service provider or upgrading to a better plan might help. But if only the wifi speed test is much slower, then the router itself is likely the problem.
9. Shoo away those buggers stealing your Wi-Fi
Two words – Better security. A password protected wi-fi can be quite easily hacked. There are easy ways to know if someone’s been on your wifi but the best option would be to just lock them out with better security. Although it’s not the best to secure your network, it is an absolute must to use a WPA password. Seek a network professional or that distant cousin working in IT to fully protect yourself from freeloaders.
10. Control apps that hog your bandwith
So if you constantly use torrent files, video chat, and play online video games like me, you might be hogging a lot of bandwith, and making the internet slower. To get an exact idea of what’s making your internet slower, you can use something called QoS- Quality Of Service to keep a tab. With QoS, you can prioritise some apps over others like video games over torrent downloads, or video chat over video games. This way, the most important apps will get the bandwith that they deserve.
11. Set-up your router to reboot on a schedule
If you too keep rebooting your wi-fi every time your connection drops, there’s a solution. Firstly, you can make sure that the problem isn’t recurring because of heat, old firmware (software), or excess downloading (yes, there’s something like that), but an easy way to solve this issue would be to automatically reboot the router once in a day. It is also a good practice to switch off your router before you go off to sleep at night. This’ll help making your Wi-Fi faster, more reliable, and more secure than ever.
12. Configure your Wi-Fi’s software
In some cases, there are software tweaks you make to improve your wifi network. To configure the software, you usually need to enter a specific IP address in your web browser (look on the bottom of the router or just search for your router’s brand name to figure out what that is). Once you’re in the settings, there are two useful things you can try.
One is changing the channel that the router operates on. This is less of an issue for newer routers, but older ones can often cause interference with each other (especially in crowded urban areas with lots of networks), and changing the frequency channel is a way to solve it. These older routers operate at 14 different frequencies — numbered 1 through 14 — and channels 1, 6, and 11 are generally best, because they overlap the least with other channels, causing less interference. The default is usually channel 6, and if you’re having signal problems, try each of them. Another option is upgrading the router’s software (which is actually called firmware). This won’t be possible for all routers, but for some older ones, manufacturers put out free firmware upgrades from time to time, and these can improve performance. Search for your router model to see if there’s one out there for you. If it is, see if you can download.
13. Try changing your router’s channel
Wi-fi routers operate on specific channels. When you set up a typical router, it usually chooses a certain channel by default. Some routers choose the least-crowded channel, but yours might not have. Check for yourself which Wi-Fi channel is the least crowded to boost the router’s performance, perhaps boosting signal range. A good (and free) tool to use is inSSIDer. Don’t be put off by the graphs and excess information. What you want to focus on is the column named “Channel.” See how many routers in this area are on channel 6 in the slide below? If your router is on the same channel, you want to switch it to a less-crowded one. You can change the channel of your router by going into its interface (you might want to Google a step-by-step). All routers have different ways to access the interface, so check with your manufacturer first.
14. Update adapter software
Just like routers, network adapters on PCs and laptops are subject to firmware/software updates. Remember, good wireless range and performance is dictated not just by the router but also by the network adapter on clients. To check your on-board adapters, go into your network settings to find the name of the adapter (found in the Control Panel on Windows OS) and then to that corresponding manufacturer’s website to make sure you have the latest version. If not, download.
15. The adventurous might try DD-WRT
Adventurous because this is a bit complicated. DD-WRT is an open-source software for routers that’s known to ramp up its performance and extend the feature set beyond what’s typically offered by most routers. Not every router supports it, but the number of supported routers keeps growing (most of the modern routers do). Installing the DD-WRT will not only give you a ton of great security features and other enhancements, but it also gives you the option to boost your transmitting power. This can be dangerous for your router, but most routers can handle an increase up to 70 mW without causing any issues, and you’ll be able to access your network from much further away!
The downside, however, is that DD-WRT may invalidate your router’s warranty. Many manufacturers will not help you troubleshoot router issues once you have DD-WRT installed. Therefore, this is not a recommended option for routers under warranty or in a business network. There are also no guarantees that DD-WRT upgrades won’t negatively affect a router. However, many users use it as a free way to trick-out their routers. If you have an older spare router lying around, or if you want to take the plunge to see if DD-WRT firmware helps your range issues on a newer router, check if it’s supported on the DD-WRT site. Also note that it’s not easy to remove DD-WRT from some routers, so rolling back may require quite a bit of work and research. Choose wisely.
16. Set-up a secondary router
Worth giving a shot if you have a secondary, older router lying at home. You can set up just about any router as a wireless access point. To do so, you need to connect the second router’s LAN port to the primary router’s LAN port. If your primary router’s IP address is, for example, 192.168.2.1 and its netmask is 255.255.255.0, you could make the second router’s IP 192.168.2.2 and use the same netmask. It’s also important that you assign the same SSID and security on the second router and turn DHCP off on the second one as well. If, you’re confused at any point about this, it is best to call a friend who does, or a professional who’ll do the job for you without a lot of hassles.
17. New antennas for your router
Newer wi-fi routers come with internal antennas. But some still have or support external ones, and these antennas can often be upgraded. If yours has the option, consider a high-gain antenna, which you can position so that the wi-fi signal goes in the direction you want. Costing anywhere between a few hundreds and a few thousands, these antennas can be ordered online.
18. Go for a single vendor solution
Try only if all the other options have failed. Vendors would generally say their products would work with other vendor’s products. But it just makes sense that a vendor’s own products will be most compatible with other products produced by the same vendor. If possible, try to limit your network devices to one vendor. That means not only your router or adapter, but also your antennas, repeaters, and access points. Not only will it keep the speed fast, and stable but it will also keep it secure. CISCO routers are known to be quite good.
19. Maybe you just need a new router
Maybe it’s just the router that’s acting like the little prick in this love affair. According to experts, today’s standard for routers is dual-band 802.11n devices. Dual-band hardware is ideal because the 5GHz band should give you noticeable performance improvement. 2.4GHz is said to actually have greater range than the 5GHz band, but it’s also more crowded, which can impede performance at 2.4GHz. Increasingly, routers are coming to the market with the latest wireless networking standard, 802.11.ac. These routers can deliver throughput up to and exceeding 1Gbps. However, to leverage this kind of speed, you will need wireless clients that support 802.11ac. These latest generation of routers are typically among the most expensive. If you don’t mind paying more, you want a new router, and you have 802.11ac devices you want to connect, consider 802.11ac. It’s compatible with legacy wi-fi hardware, including 802.11n/b/g.
May the signal be with you!
These pointers have been sourced from pcmag, lifehacker, and vox