How To: Improve the Performance of Your Home Wireless Network (WiFi)

Laptop UserMany of us have wireless networks in our homes. In my case, it allows me to work on my laptop computer in my den while connected to the Internet through WiFi and also allows me to print to my wireless printer from any room in the house. Wireless networks are made up of the following components: a wireless router, a wireless modem, possibly a wireless access point, and a wireless network adapter; and of course the software necessary to operate, encrypt data, and route the data to the proper component. After operating in a wireless environment for some time, I can’t imagine going back to being “wired” to my Internet connection and printer. 

However, sometimes our wireless network signal (think radio broadcast) becomes less strong. This condition, if weak enough, will cause slower response times, and at worse will cause loss of data. There are ways to make the home wireless network perform better. Here are 10 things you can do to improve the performance of your network. 

  1. Position your wireless router (or wireless access point) in a central location: the radio signals emitted from your router can be hampered by it’s location in your home in respect to where you’ll be connecting to it wirelessly. For example, if you have your router located on one side of your house upstairs and will be using your laptop on the other side of the house downstairs, you may be at the edge of your signal effective distance. The type of wireless router you use will determine how much signal strength you have at your disposal too.
  2. Move the router off the floor and away from walls and metal objects (such as metal file cabinets): Metal, walls, and floors will interfere with your router’s wireless signals.
  3. Replace your router’s antenna: Most wireless routers have omnidirectional antennas, meaning they broadcast in all directions equally. If your router is located at an outside wall, you could upgrade to a high-gain antenna that focuses most of the broadcast signal in one direction; toward where you most often use your laptop.
  4. Replace your computer’s wireless network adapter: Wireless network signals must be sent both to and from your computer. Sometimes, your router can broadcast strongly enough to reach your computer, but your computer can’t send signals back to your router. In this case, replace your laptop’s PC card-based wireless network adapter with a USB network adapter that uses an external antenna. Note that most laptop computers have excellent antennas and usually don’t require a network adapter upgrade.
  5. Add a wireless repeater: Wireless repeaters extend your wireless network range without requiring you to add any wiring.
  6. Change your wireless channel: Wireless routers can broadcast on several different channels (frequencies), and the one you’re using may be busier than another and therefore a change to another, less used channel may be in order.
  7. Reduce wireless interference: Cordless phones and other electronics may interfere with the transmissions of your wireless network.
  8. Update your firmware or your network adapter driver: Many times the router manufacturers will update the drivers (programs used to communicate with your computer and other parts of the network); and some of these changes will result in performance improvement.
  9. Pick equipment from a single vendor: While a Linksys router will work with a D-Link network adapter, you often get better performance if you pick a router and network adapter from the same vendor.
  10. Upgrade 802.11b devices to 802.11g: 802.11b is the most common type of wireless network, but 802.11g is about five times faster. 802.11g is backward-compatible with 802.11b, so you can still use any 802.11b equipment that you have.

Try some or all of these performance improvements to increase the speed of your wireless network. Keep in mind that if these things don’t improve your network’s performance; there may be a more serious problem and you may need the help of a technical support person. For more information on this subject, check out this article at Microsoft At Home

Please comment on this subject; we all learn from each other when our views and opinions are shared. 

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Remember, home computing is a blast…keep it productive and enjoyable. 

Best regards,

Paul

 

paulshomecomputing@yahoo.com

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12 Comments

Filed under home computing, How-To Corner, networking

12 responses to “How To: Improve the Performance of Your Home Wireless Network (WiFi)

  1. Paul,
    Nice article. I have been wanting to do this for a while. I learned some great tips here. Thanks for sharing.

    Mark

  2. Cool site, I had not noticed paulshomecomputingblog.wordpress.com before during my searches!
    Carry on the wonderful work!

  3. Cappydawg

    Nice article, filled with great information. Thanks!

  4. Pingback: Geek Squeaks’ of the Week (#78) « What's On My PC

  5. Great suggestions!
    Believe it or not, I have actually had great success with this little reflector: http://www.freeantennas.com/projects/template2/index.html when a router has to be at one end of a house.

  6. Paul,

    Great set of tips you have posted here… I love Wi-Fi and what it has done; especially for networks in our home.

    Thank you,

    Rick

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