Improve your Wi-Fi speed in 10 simple steps

Improve your Wi-Fi speed in 10 simple steps

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A slow Wi-Fi connection can interrupt Zoom meetings, wreak havoc on the online worlds, and pause streaming video for buffering. When your world relies on near-instantaneous communications, these small annoyances quickly add up and become frustrating obstacles at work, school, and life in general.

Nobody wants that, so we'll walk you through ten simple steps to get faster Wi-Fi connections.

Find out your internet speed

Before you begin, take our internet speed test. It's not on our official list of ten things, but it's good for context. Use the first speed test result as a reference and compare the results at each stage. So you will know if it helps you.

You can also compare the results to the maximum speed advertised by your internet plan. This way you'll know if your speeds are really underperforming or if it's time to upgrade to a faster plan.

Keep in mind that many ISPs only guarantee speeds on a wired ethernet connection. It's perfectly acceptable, if somewhat unexpected, to have a number lower than the advertised maximum speed, especially on Wi-Fi. What is important is that you have a smooth browsing experience.

If your speeds are close to what they should be, but you end up with a slow internet connection, chances are you are overloading your existing connection and need a faster internet plan.

How to improve internet speed

1. Turn things off and on again

First, let's turn everything off to see if your Wi-Fi speed improves.

Restart the modem

Unplug your modem or wireless gateway, wait 30 seconds, and then plug it back in. This process allows the modem to eliminate any problems.

Your modem translates internet signals between your home network and your internet service provider. If your internet connection is working, the power cycle is a good place to start troubleshooting, as it often resolves connection issues.

Restart your router

Then repeat the process if you have a standalone router. As with a modem, a power cycle clears your router's memory and gives it a fresh start on tasks that previously held it back.

Finally, turn off Wi-Fi on all of your wireless devices. Wait a few seconds, then turn Wi-Fi back on. Allow these devices to reconnect and see if the connection improves.

Power cycling may seem simple, but turning your home network off and on can really give your network a boost. We recommend restarting your devices regularly, at least once every few months. But keep in mind that this will leave you without internet for a few minutes, so plan to reboot your devices at a time when no one needs an internet connection.

2. Move your router to a better place

Wi-Fi can only travel so far, and its signal can be interrupted or blocked by walls, floors, ceilings, furniture, appliances, and basically any large physical object. These signals can also be interrupted by radio waves from other devices, including cordless phones, baby monitors, microwaves, and Bluetooth speakers.

So if you place your router on one edge of your home space, you may have issues with Wi-Fi on the other end. The best place for your router is a central, elevated location near where you use the internet most often. Don't lower your router into a basement or closet, it just sets you up for connection problems.

3. Change the Wi-Fi frequency band

Modern routers operate primarily on two wireless frequency bands: 2.4GHz and 5GHz. The band you use for your connections can affect your speeds and the quality of your connections at different distances from your router.

Whatever frequency band you use, there may be temporary interference, so try switching to the other band. It will appear as a different Wi-Fi network on your device, usually with a label in the network name identifying the network as 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz.

The 2.4GHz band is the most widely used Wi-Fi connection. It's used for many other wireless connections other than Wi-Fi, so airwaves on this frequency can get a bit crowded. This replaces speed with range, which means it's better for going through walls and other objects, while 5GHz has better speeds but a shorter range.

The two frequency bands often appear as two separate Wi-Fi networks. To rearrange your connections, disconnect the wrong band and connect to the correct one on each device.

Optimum connections for the 5 GHz band:

gaming devices

the computer

smart phones

Smart TVs

Best connections for the 2.4GHz band:

smart speakers

smart home devices

security cameras

4. Adjust your router's antennas

Many wireless routers and gateways have internal antennas, which means they are built into the device and you cannot modify them. If this is your case, skip this step.

But if you have adjustable antennas on your router, try reconfiguring them. Router antennas are generally omnidirectional, meaning they send signals in all directions perpendicular to the antenna. For example, a vertical antenna sends Wi-Fi signals horizontally, and vice versa.

So if you need to extend your Wi-Fi signals to several floors, it may help to set the antenna to sit horizontally to spread the Wi-Fi signals up and down.

5. Extend your Wi-Fi network

If your router is in the best location but you're still experiencing speed or connectivity issues in certain areas of your home, you may want to add a device that can extend the range of your network.

There are different devices that you can use to increase the range of your network:

Wi-Fi extenders are located between the router and the dead zone and they amplify existing Wi-Fi signals or redistribute them in the new zone.

Wired access points connect to your router via an Ethernet cable and can distribute Wi-Fi and LAN signals as an extension of your router, similar to a Wi-Fi extender. Many devices can be used as access points.access, including older routers.

Powerline extender kits come with two devices: you plug one into your router via Ethernet and plug it into an outlet. You plug the second where you want better Wi-Fi, and the Internet signals travel up your electrical wires.

Mesh Wi-Fi systems replace your router with one or more devices that work together to create a single Wi-Fi network that covers your entire home from multiple points.

While all of these things push your Wi-Fi further, what's best for your network depends on your home's floor plan. If you have one stubborn dead zone, a booster is probably a good choice. Mesh systems are better for full coverage if your home is particularly large or has a complex layout. Using an access point would be ideal if your home is connected to an ethernet network.

6. Delete unnecessary contacts

If you run out of bandwidth, you should disconnect all unused devices. Everything connected to your network should be essential.

The quickest way to disconnect non-essential devices is to change your Wi-Fi passwords and restart your router. You will then need to reconnect to your network using the new password on each device you are currently using. This method will clear all unnecessary connections, such as the emergency cell phone you keep and always silently download updates.

7. Change the Wi-Fi frequency channel

The 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands are divided into channels: 11 on the first and 45 on the second. Most routers choose the best channel for you automatically, but sometimes you have to change it manually.

Frequency channels can get crowded, so if you and all your neighbors use the same channel in the 2.4GHz band, it can affect your Wi-Fi speeds.

To find the best Wi-Fi channel, you can use the Wireless Diagnostics feature on your Mac computer. Simply hold down the Option key and click the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar at the top right corner of your screen. The scan window lists the best available 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels.

In Windows, you can use a command in Windows PowerShell to see all available channels or install an application like NetSpot. These methods do not summarize the best channels for you, but rather ask you to select the best channels by examining the scan results.

To change your Wi-Fi to the best channel, you will need to log into the router's interface online. You can do this by entering your router's IP address into a web browser and logging in. Once connected, find your Wi-Fi settings. The option to change your band channel should be there.

8. Switch to a faster internet

While we hope these tips will do the trick for you, sometimes your internet connection is just too slow to sustain your internet usage. If this is the case, you will need to upgrade to a faster internet plan to get better speeds.

Not sure what internet speeds you need to support your online habits? Check out our guides on internet speed for your online gaming and video streaming needs.

And if you're confused because you're sure you paid for enough internet speed but your connection just didn't cut it, it might be because your internet connection isn't always working at 100%.

ISPs advertise speeds up to a certain speed - and they don't promise that you'll always get those speeds. So even if you have a 100Mbps plan, you may not always have a lot of bandwidth. In this case, you may need a buffer or plan faster than you think. This way, network slowdowns will still occur, but you'll probably notice them less.

9. Replace your equipment

Your router and modem handle all of your internet data. If either of them is not up to the task, it can slow down the entire network. So if you are dealing with old and outdated equipment, now is the time to replace it.

If you rent equipment from your ISP, you can order new units if you think they are out of date, especially if they are causing poor network performance. Internet service providers provide a single wireless gateway or combine a standalone modem and router.

Buying a modem and router can save you money over time, especially if you rent both. For example, a store-bought router gives you more control over your home network's features, speeds, and security.

10. Update your router's firmware

If you have a modem/router combo unit (also called a gateway), your ISP will probably update the unit's firmware automatically. But if you have your own separate router, it might be worth checking for updates.

Your router is a small computer dedicated to managing the network and routing traffic. Like any computer, it requires an operating system, in this case firmware. Since no software is absolutely perfect, developers release updates that improve code, fix annoying bugs, and patch security holes.

Firmware update is a top priority for performance and security. Many modern routers have automatic firmware updates, but checking the firmware version can give you peace of mind. Log into your router and check if automatic updates are enabled. If not, immediately update your router's firmware and then enable automatic updates.

Bonus tip for faster internet

Wi-Fi is excellent, but wired connections are faster and more reliable. If you have high-priority devices such as a desktop computer, game console, or smart TV, it may be worth connecting them to your router using an Ethernet cable instead of relying on Wi-Fi.

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