WiFi can be a fickle thing. You may be enjoying a perfectly strong WiFi signal, move just a few steps in one direction, and watch it drop to one bar. The seemingly unreliable nature of WiFi networks has everything to do with the fact that there are many factors that influence their performance.
Now that you understand the top 5 factors that affect WiFi performance, it’s time to take a closer thing at some of the things you can do to improve it.
Not all places are equally suitable for your router. To start with, you want to avoid placing your router close to metal objects and appliances that emit electromagnetic waves. Metal is the top disrupter of a WiFi signal, and its presence close to a WiFi router can easily create a large dead zone.
Other materials, including glass, wood, plastics, foam, and cardboard, can also disrupt a WiFi signal but their influence of WiFi signal strength tends to less severe. Keep in mind that many buildings use metal studs (rather than 2x4 wood) for the particle board mounting, and placing your router close to them would be a bad idea. When in doubt, use a handheld stud finder or at least a stud finder app on your smartphone.
Strictly speaking, all household appliances emit electromagnetic waves to some degree, even fluorescent lightbulbs, circuit breakers, and electric razors. The biggest emitters of electromagnetic waves tend to be found in the kitchen, and they include stoves, microwave ovens, and dishwashers.
Other problematic appliances are washing machines, tumble dryers, televisions, cordless phones, and radiant heaters. If you have any of these appliances at home, keep your WiFi router as far away from them as possible to boost WiFi signal.
Ideally, you also want to keep a safe distance from electric wires. To cover an area with an even WiFi signal, you should place your WiFi router roughly in the center. You can slightly boost your wireless signal by elevating the router above the floor level.
WiFi signals radiate outward in all directions, not just horizontally. When your router is on the floor, it’s ability to emit strong signals is severely limited. For the same reason, people who live in multi-store houses should always locate a Wi-Fi router near the ceiling on the first floor. This way, even the second floor will receive consistent coverage.
If you follow the news, you’ve heard about the growing number of large-scale malware attacks that are costing businesses and individuals alike billions every year. Many of these attacks wouldn’t be possible if all routers were kept updated. Once a malware infects a router, it can steal bandwidth and spread itself across the network to other devices.
But even without a presence of a dangerous malware, routers with old firmware perform worse than routers that are properly updated.
To check if your router is running the newest firmware available:
Most WiFi routers come with small, weak antennas. It’s not that manufacturers want to save every cent they can, but powerful WiFi antennas tend to be hideously large. Compared to the antenna that came with your router, which probably is just a few inches tall and has around 4 dB gain, a 10-dB antenna can be anywhere between 10 to 15 inches tall.
But if you don’t mind the size, a new, powerful WiFi antenna is a great way how you can boost WiFi at home or office without buying a new router.
There are several different types of WiFi antennas, but the only type you need to care about is the common “rubber duck” antenna, which is an electrically short monopole antenna that consists of a springy wire in the shape of a narrow helix, sealed in a rubber or plastic jacket to protect the antenna.
Such antennas use the same RP-SMA connector, and there are many different models available on Amazon and other online stores. Some even come with a handy extension cable that allows you to place the antenna farther away from your router to achieve optimal signal distribution.
To boost WiFi signal, you need to purchase an antenna with more gain than your current one. The gain of an antenna system relative to an isotropic radiator at radio frequencies is expressed in dBi, or decibels relative to isotropic. Most home routers come with small antennas, whose gain tends to be between 4–5 dBi. Replacing such antenna with a 9 dBi antenna should provide excellent signal boost.
An encrypted, password-protected WiFi is a must in this day and age. With more people than ever relying on WiFi, the hunger for open, fast WiFi networks is real. Don’t think that your neighbors won’t use your WiFi network just because they have their own — they will.
You should encrypt your WiFi and protect it with a strong password that can’t be easily guessed. A strong password should:
If you have lots of guests, create a separate guest network and either significantly limit its range or protect it with a different password and change the password on a regular basis.
Even though they are referred to by many names, WiFi boosters, repeaters, and extenders are basically the same thing.
WiFi repeaters are relatively simple devices that take an existing signal from your WiFi router and rebroadcast it as a new network. This new network is just an extension of your main network, and all data that go through it also go through the main network.
WiFi boosters and extenders are very similar, but they also amplify the existing signal before rebroadcasting it to create a second network. Because WiFi boosters typically have greater range than WiFi repeaters, they make sense in situations where the original signal is very weak.
A good repeater or booster costs less than $100, and it can be installed in a few minutes by anyone since the installation process usually involves only the press of the WPS button. You can find a list of the top 5 WiFi boosters at the end of this article.
To achieve the best performance when using a WiFi repeater or booster, it’s a good idea to use a WiFi booster app to analyze existing WiFi coverage and determine the optimal way how to extend the existing WiFi network.
Just like lanes on the highway, there are multiple WiFi channels on which a WiFi router can broadcast. Even though most countries have six non-overlapping channels (1, 6, 11, and 14), many users leave their router set on the default channel, which is usually either Channel 1 or Channel 6.
This results in a WiFi traffic jam as too many packets are trying to drive on the same line. The solution is simple: find out which channel is occupied the least and switch to it. This can be done with the help of NetSpot, a professional and easy-to-use WiFi analysis and surveillance tool.
With a new channel selected, you need to tell your WiFi router to use it:
You can now verify that your router is broadcasting on the new channel using a WiFi network analyzer like NetSpot.
It takes just one bandwidth-hungry application or a client to make download and upload speeds come to a crawl for everyone else on the same WiFi network. Luckily, modern routers support services like QoS (Quality of Service), which allow users to prioritize certain applications over others. With QoS, your online gaming session won’t ever be interrupted again by a person watching a 1440p video on YouTube or downloading a huge Linux distribution from the Internet.
To change your router’s QoS settings:
Some routers make it very easy to configure QoS settings, while other routers are far from intuitive. When in doubt, consult the manufacturer of your router.
The newest wireless technology, IEEE 802.11ac, offers superior download and upload speeds as well as improved range compared to older WiFi technologies, such as IEEE 802.11b, g, and others. To take advantage of the latest WiFi technologies to boost home WiFi, you need to make sure that both your home router and your WiFi-enabled devices, such as smartphones and laptops, support them.
When selecting a new WiFi router with support for IEEE 802.11ac, don’t pick the most affordable model you can find. Unless your budget is very strict, it’s always worth spending extra to purchase a router with excellent range and modern features such as MU-MIMO, Quality of Service, guest networks, gigabit Ethernet ports, and replaceable external antennas.
A good router should be able to serve you well for at least five years, which is approximately how long it usually takes for a major new WiFi technology to become mainstream. Near the end of this article, we recommend five best WiFi routers from leading manufacturers, so all you need to do is pick one that fits your budget.
The 5 GHz wireless frequency provides faster data rates at shorter distances and is typically much less busy than the 2.4 GHz wireless frequency. If your router supports it, consider switching to it for an instant short-range speed boost.
How to boost your WiFi by switching your router to 5 GHz:
One downside of the 5 GHz wireless frequency is that it doesn’t penetrate solid objects nearly as well as the 2.4 GHz wireless frequency. This can be a problem in office buildings and residential areas, so it’s advisable to always use 5 GHz in conjunction with 2.4 GHz. That way, you can get the best of both worlds.
The timeless IT advice, “If it doesn’t work, try switching it on and off", also applies to WiFi routers. A simple reboot is often enough to considerably improve your WiFi speeds. A reboot clears the router’s memory and allows updates to install.
To reboot your router, either press the restart button located on the back (you may need a pointy object like a pen to get to it because many router manufacturers use recessed restart buttons) or simply disconnect the router from power and turn it on again.
If your router really starts installing an update during the reboot, be patient and don’t interrupt the update process by turning off your router. Depending on your router’s performance, the update process may take more than 10 minutes.
The purpose of WiFi boosters is to extend an existing WiFi signal to areas where it can’t reach. Most WiFi boosters are designed to be plug and play, making it possible for anyone to install them on their own to enjoy a strong and reliable WiFi signal everywhere.
When selecting a WiFi booster, make sure you have at least a rough idea of how large is the area that you want to cover. You can use a network analyzer like NetSpot to create a signal heatmap of your space. Then you need to set a budget and evaluate the potential candidates based on their features.
To make the selection process easier for you, we selected the top 5 best WiFi boosters according professional reviews and real users alike.
The Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000 is a high-end WiFi booster with speeds up to 3 Gbps. It uses Netgear’s patented FastLane3 technology to broadcast WiFi signals over three different bands (at the same time (including a dedicated 5GHz band with up to 1.7 Gbps) so that each device you connect to the internet can choose the fastest line available.
Thanks to the support for the 802.11k standard, you can move around the house while video chatting with friends or watching an online video without any interruption. On the rear, the Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000 has four Gigabit Ethernet ports to connect wired devices, such as your Smart TV, game console, or home security system.
Just keep in mind that this high-end WiFi booster is much larger than most other WiFi boosters on the market. Its dimensions are much closer to WiFi routers, but its performance more than makes up for the bulky form factor.
The Netgear Orbi RBK50 WiFi system isn’t a straightforward WiFi booster. It’s actually a hybrid between a WiFi booster and a WiFi router. When you purchase and open the box, you discover two units inside. One of the two units is meant to connect to your WiFi router, while the other unit connects wirelessly to the first one, seamlessly extending your WiFi network to other parts of your home.
Together, the two units can cover up to 5,000 sq. ft with fast WiFi and up to 3 Gbps combined WiFi speeds. Since the two units broadcast the same WiFi network, you can move with your smartphone or laptop from room to room without ever having to connect to a different WiFi network.
Because the Netgear Orbi RBK50 WiFi system works with Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant, it allows you to control your WiFi network with voice commands.
The TP-Link RE350 AC1200 is a compact WiFi booster that you can plug in directly into any wall outlet to extend your existing WiFi network. It supports both the 2.4 GHz band (300 Mbps) and 5 GHz band (867 Mbps) for maximum coverage and performance. Its two integrated high-gain antennas provide surprisingly wide coverage considering their elegant design.
At the front of the TP-Link RE350 AC1200 is a signal light that indicates current signal strength to help you find the ideal place for the WiFi booster. The light turns red when you get too far away from your router and blue when the connection is good.
You can also transform the TP-Link RE350 AC1200 WiFi booster into an access point by plugging an Ethernet cable into its Ethernet port. When in the access point mode, the TP-Link RE350 AC1200 can be controlled using a smartphone app.
WiFi boosters are great for extending WiFi coverage to a room that’s too far away from your router, but they don’t work properly if the distance is too large. For example, if your WiFi router is on the ground floor and you want to extend your WiFi to the attic, a traditional WiFi booster would most likely struggle. That’s where the D-Link PowerLine AV1000 WiFi AC comes in.
This unique WiFi booster uses your home electrical wiring to extend your home network. You simply plug the receiver unit near your router and connect it using an Ethernet cable. You than plug the transmitter unit in any location in your home that shares the same electrical wiring and enjoy a strong WiFi signal.
The D-Link PowerLine AV1000 WiFi AC supports all modern WiFi standards and can support even 4K video streaming and online gaming.
Despite its unassuming design, the Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ is packed with modern WiFi technologies, including Multi-user MIMO, which allows multiple Wi-Fi devices to simultaneously receive multiple data streams. The WiFi booster also supports Cross Band Technology to maximize the utilization of the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless bands for combined speeds of up to 1.9 Gbps.
The Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ is designed to extend the range of your WiFi router up to 10,000 square feet. The setup process is a piece of cake because you’re guided from start to finish by the Spot Finder app. All you need to do is connect the WiFi booster to your router by pressing the WPS button and follow the app’s instructions.
The job of a WiFi extender is to extend your WiFi network beyond what your WiFi router is able to cover by grabbing the existing WiFi signal and rebroadcasting it. WiFi extenders are useful in situations where you don’t want to upgrade your existing router but need more coverage.
There’s actually no major difference between WiFi extenders and WiFi boosters — there are simply two different terms that refer to the same thing.
This Netgear WiFi extender can satisfy the needs of even the most demanding users thanks to its FastLane3 technology which features Tri-Band WiFi with speeds up to 2.2 Gbps. Because the Nighthawk X6 uses the same WiFi network name (SSID) as your router, it creates a seamless network, eliminating the need to switch between different networks.
On the back of the Nighthawk X6 are two gigabit Ethernet ports that can provide a stable, wired connection to a desktop computer, smart TV, or any other stationary device that benefits from a rock-solid internet connection.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-install WiFi range extender, the TP-Link RE650 AC2600 is a fantastic choice because you can simply plug it into any wall outlet and use the TP-LINK Tether App on any iOS or Android mobile device to set it up. Despite its compact size and affordable price, it can stream simultaneously on 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz for faster performance and stable internet.
Thanks to the intelligent signal light on the front side of the unit, you don’t need to perform a WiFi site survey prior to its installation because the router can determine the optimal installation location on its own. Of course, you can always simply unplug it from one outlet and connect it to a different one if you need to change its location.
This wall-plug WiFi extender from Netgear surprises with its amazing performance and easy setup. It can extend 2.4 and 5 GHz WiFi signals from existing WiFi routers for better range while simultaneously streaming to multiple devices using MU-MIMO technology. Thanks to its support for Smart Roaming, your mobile devices will be able to automatically connect to it as they leave the range of your WiFi router.
If you install the Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2200 WiFi Range Extender near your TV or computer, you can take advantage of its Gigabit port and enjoy rock-solid wired internet access.
The Linksys Velop Wi-Fi extender is a compact device that can help you cover your home or any other building with a strong wireless signal. The extender is designed to boost WiFi signal by connecting to your existing Velop system for a seamless connection to all your devices.
Thanks to the Linksys App, controlling the Linksys Velop Wi-Fi extender and other Velop devices is a breeze, and you can, for example, create a separate, password-protected WiFi network or set up parental controls with a few simple clicks.
This WiFi range extender from D-Link extends both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz for combined speeds up to 1750 Mbps so that you can eliminate dead zones without sacrificing bandwidth. We like that it can also function as an access point, which may come in handy should your main router ever stop working.
The D-Link DAP-1720 has three external antennas that greatly improve its coverage, and it also features a single Ethernet port for wired internet access. To set up this WiFi range extender, you need to plug it into any wall outlet and press the WPS button on your router. Then, press the WPS button on the DAP-1720, and you should be good to go.
Does your current router leave a lot to be desired in terms of performance and/or features? If so, it may be the right time to get a new one. Modern routers can broadcast on multiple bands at the same time, and they support features like Multi-user MIMO, which allows them to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously.
The Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 is a formidable WiFi router that looks like a piece of alien technology. When you look at it, the first thing you’ll notice are its eight antennas, which broadcast three bands at the same time (two 5 GHz bands and one 2.4 GHz band). The router also has eight gigabit Ethernet ports and two USB 3.0 ports, leaving very little to be desired in terms of connectivity.
Because this Asus router is geared toward gamers, it can super boost WiFi signal strength with its Game Boost technology, which analyzes network traffic and prioritizes gaming packets above everything else.
This award-winning WiFi router from D-Link offers combined speeds of up to 3000 Mbps, the ability to simultaneously broadcast to multiple devices, and sophisticated yet easy-to-set-up parental controls that can protect the youngest members of your family from inappropriate content.
Included with the router are McAfee’s Secure Home Platform and McAfee LiveSafe, both of which are intended to safeguard every device on your network from online threats, including viruses, malware, ransomware, spyware, and unwanted programs.
Created to satisfy the needs of heavy internet users who spend a lot of time streaming 4K content, playing online games, and downloading files from the internet, the Netgear Nighthawk X10 is one of the fastest routers in the world. It’s powered by a 1.7GHz Quad-Core Processor and Quad-Stream architecture and offers support for 802.11ac and 802.11ad WiFi technology.
Thanks to the Nighthawk App, there’s no reason to be intimidated by the Netgear Nighthawk X10 because you can set it up with a few simple taps. The app gives you easy access to the router’s settings, and it works on both Android and iOS.
If you’re wondering how to boost WiFi signal on a budget, the TP-Link AC2300 is the right answer. This relatively affordable router (as far as powerful dual-band routers go) is equipped with a 1.8GHz dual-core 64-bit CPU with two co-processors that allow it to handle your favorite activities like gaming online, watching 4K movies, or sharing large files with ease.
TP-Link offers an intuitive smartphone app, called TP-Link Tether, to help you set up and manage the router. The app works on both Android and iOS, and its simple and intuitive user interface lets you quickly and painlessly accomplish all common router management tasks, including installing firmware updates.
This isn’t a traditional Netgear router. It’s a state-of-the-art mesh WiFi system that makes it possible to cover a large house or office building with a seamless WiFi signal. You can get the Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 System with two or three units included in the box and expand it by purchasing an additional satellite unit in the future.
Even in its most basic configuration, the Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 System can effortlessly handle over a hundred of devices connected at once thanks to Netgear’s patented tri-band mesh technology with a patented dedicated backhaul. The only downside is the steep price of the system.
With these ten tips, you should have no problem boosting your WiFi network without buying a new router. Make sure to have NetSpot at hand to check whether our tips helped each time you try one. We guarantee that by the time you get to the number ten, your WiFi will feel faster than ever before.
To give you a quick answer — that is how you get a great WiFi coverage.
Getting into some detail, not every spot will do for your WiFi router. A router won't do great near metal objects and the appliances that emit electromagnetic waves (the strongest ones are from electric stoves, microwave ovens, and dishwashers). Obstacles made from other materials than metal, can also affect the strength of WiFi signal. You also want to have your router installed on an elevated surface for a better signal broadcast.
Keeping your WiFi router up-to-date helps keep hacker attacks away. Malware developers keep coming up with new viruses that can steal bandwidth and spread themselves across the network to other devices. Getting new security firmware versions on your router consistently will keep your network secure.
WiFi repeaters, boosters and extenders help you get your WiFi signal to farther rooms and levels of your home or office space. Choose what will work best for you according to the size of your space, compatibility with your router and your budget. A good repeater or a booster can cost less than $100, and can be installed in several.
There are multiple wireless channels a WiFi router can broadcast on, however there are only a few non-overlapping available on 2.4 GHz band (3 to be precise). 5GHz frequency offers 24 non-overlapping channels. Usually when you get a router it broadcasts on default channel 1 or 6.
Because many owners leave their routers with the factory settings, those channels get overloaded. Find the least occupied channel in your area with the help of such software as NetSpot and switch your router to it.