How to Choose the Best WiFi Extender
WiFi extenders can be divided into two broad categories. There are ones that plug into wall outlets and ones meant for desktop placement. The former category is less obtrusive, but the proximity to electrical wires introduces some signal interference. The latter category usually offers more features, such as Ethernet and USB ports.
Apart from the form-factor, you also need to consider the specifications. Ideally, you want an extender that supports the same WiFi standards and the same WiFi bands as your router. For example, routers and extenders with 802.11n support reach speeds of up to 300Mbps, and 802.11ac routers and extenders go up to 1,300Mbps. To connect a WiFi extender to your existing network, it must support your chosen encryption method, such as WPA2-PSK (AES).
But no amount of features is an excuse for poor usability. Try to select an extender that’s easy to use and doesn’t throw sticks under your feet. When in doubt, consult online WiFi extender reviews. Either read reviews written by professional reviewers on tech websites or visit online stores and find out what real users have to say.
What’s great is that a decent wireless extender doesn’t cost a lot of money. They start at around $30, and it’s seldom necessary or even advisable to pay more than $100. Great WiFi extenders exist in every price range — you just need to look hard enough to find them.
Set Up Your New WiFi Extender
Once you have your new WiFi extender in hands, it’s time to set it up. The goal is to find a place that’s both in the range of the signal source and the client device. Typically, this is mid-way between the two points, but it could also be somewhere else. It all depends on the layout of the surrounding area, the level of signal interference, and other factors.
You can accurately and easily find the best place to install a WiFi extender using NetSpot, a professional wireless site survey, Wi-Fi analysis, and troubleshooting app for Mac OS X and Windows. NetSpot can help you understand the characteristics of a wireless network in a specific area and find areas with a weak WiFi signal.
To find the best place for your WiFi extender:
- Launch NetSpot and activate the Survey Mode by clicking on the Discover/Survey slider.
- Click on “Start a New Survey,” and name your project.
- Load an area map from your computer or create a new one.
- Move from one place to another until you cover the entire area.
- Once you’ve covered everything, click the Stop Scan Button and view various helpful heatmap visualizations.
We highly recommend you go through these steps before and after you install a wireless extender. That way, you can determine the most optimal place where to install it and find out whether it actually improved the strength of your wireless signal.
NetSpot comes with a whole assortment of other useful tools that you can use to diagnose and survey wireless networks. All features of NetSpot are easy to use even by people with limited IT experience.