Is your Wi-Fi network still going slow even after our first bunch of tips? Are you still experiencing occasional drop-outs and disconnects?
In part two of our Wi-Fi optimization series, we’ll show you how to further boost your Wi-Fi network and experience.
Set up a wireless repeater
If your flat or house has thick walls or is so large that your router cannot broadcast a solid signal from one end to the other, it’s probably wise to get a wireless repeater.
These look very similar to a router. They pick up Wi-Fi signals and rebroadcast them with renewed strength. The repeater connects to your wireless router as a regular client, receiving an IP address over DHCP much like your regular laptop or PC.
- Position: I suggest following the first tip from part 1 of this guide to locate the weak singal areas. Place the repeater close to one of these spots. But make sure that it’s still in a strong signal area and able to pick up at least 80% of the signal from your main router.
- Hardware: When choosing a repeater, don’t be confused by the different names – some companies name their repeaters "range extenders" while others call them "Wi-Fi expanders" or something similar. They are all the same. Simply make sure to pick one that rebroadcasts your 802.11n or AC signal. And make sure that it’s compatible with your router.
- Set up: Every manufacturer has different setup procedures. In general all you need is your network name and password.
Tip: Check out resources for a general overview of extenders. Or try this comprehensive guide on how to use your router as a universal wireless repeater.
Optimize Wi-Fi settings
There are many complicated settings on your router which can help you optimize the signal in your home. Unfortunately, manufacturers tend to offer options under different names, so we’ll just give a handful of hints that explain where to look and what to look for. It is also necessary to check the default values of some settings.
- 5 Ghz Wireless Mode: If your router and adapter has a 5 Ghz mode, I’d recommend using it instead of the regular 2.4 Ghz. Known as dual band, these devices can give you a better throughput when the 5 Ghz mode is activated.
To enable a 5 GHz connection, go to your router configuration page (normally shown on the device), and find your wireless settings. If you can see an option for a 5 GHz connection, enable it.
- RTS Threshold: RTS stands for "Request to send". The function essentially asks laptops and smartphones for permission to send the next data packet. The lower the threshold, the more stable your Wi-Fi network, since it asks to send packages more frequently.
If you don’t have problems with your Wi-Fi, make sure that the RTS Threshold is set to the maximum allowed. To do this, go to your router configuration and try to find the "RTS Threshold value" in the wireless settings. Set it to 2347.
If you DO have problems with your wifi (dropouts, the need to restart, etc), try lowering this value.
Benchmark and diagnose your Wi-Fi
This tip is not an optimization technique per se, but it’s a great way to determine if our tips so far have had a positive effect on your network. The free "QCheck" tool will show you the response time, throughput, and streaming performance of your wireless setup. You can easily get it from this website after filling out a short form.
Enter your IP address under "Endpoint 1" and another IP address in your network under "Endpoint 2". Then run the test.
Replace your antenna!
Some router manufacturers sell external antennae that are much stronger than the router’s built-in antenna. If your signal is weak in places (and all our other tips have failed), then you’ll need to check if your manufacturer sells either omnidirectional or directional antennae.
- Omnidirectional: Sends out a signal in all directions. By default, most built-in antennas are omnidirectional, but they are not all the same in terms of power, so make sure to get a longer one with "high gain".
- Directional antenna: This kind of antenna sends a strong wireless signal in a certain direction instead of spreading it in all directions, improving the performance in the target area. It’s like pointing a flashlight in a certain direction instead of using your regular ceiling lamps.
To connect a new antenna, you’ll usually use the SMA connector or MMCX. For more on wireless antennae, I recommend the Do-It-Yourself Wireless Antenna Update website by BinaryWolf. You’ll find great how-to guides and hardware recommendations that’ll help you pick the best antenna and the right setup.
And that’s it! Using these tips and tricks should improve your Wi-Fi performance and experience – if you’ve got another tip that you use to boost your wireless network, let us know!