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How to increase WiFi signal strength

When devices are having a difficult time connecting to the WiFi network, it’s time to boost the signal. Increasing WiFi signal strength takes knowledge to know what to use, where to use it, and how to set it up to get the most of every ounce of frequency.
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With WiFi mapping tools like NetSpot, getting the best network signal can be done by anyone, anywhere, any time.

WiFi Signal Strength To Reach Everywhere

Six feet. That was all that it took to change the signal strength in the house I was visiting. It was a two story home, and the people struggled to connect devices in the upstairs bedrooms to the WiFi. When they could connect, the signal was so weak that watching a video was like seeing a slideshow roll by.

It turns out the router was on the floor on the other side of a couch, and for whatever reason (perhaps the couch had a metal frame, or springs inside) it was weakening the signal. We knew this because we were able to use a WiFi strength app to measure how the network changed as we moved the router from place to place.

Moving the router six feet to the other side of the couch onto the end table changed everything — we could see that the signal strength upstairs was strong at every point we wanted to connect. We didn’t need to buy a bunch of hardware or new devices. We just needed to know what the signal looked like as we moved things around.

Every company today needs access to the Internet to connect with its customers and vendors. Every home uses the WiFi to access the Internet — and at some point, every place will start having problems. For people who are having issues with their WiFi signal, there are three things they need to do:

  • Update their current tools and devices
  • Understand the WiFi signal against the location in question
  • Test out different configurations

As with any problem, knowledge is power. The more we can understand the network as it is now, the more powerful we can make it.

WiFi Strength Starts With Up To Date Systems

It’s easy for people when they have a problem to just go out and buy the latest and greatest equipment and expect that to solve their problems.

Usually, everything they have is right there. Manufacturer’s recognize that they can make errors with their systems, or new discoveries in their code can make their systems more efficient than they were before.

Because of this, make sure that the devices that are being used are up to date. This can vary depending on what kind of device we’re talking about.

Updating Computers

Updating computers are probably the easiest thing to do in this situation. In each case, make sure the device in question can connect to the Internet. Having the operating system update itself will typically update the operating system and drivers that it uses.

  • For Windows 10, select Settings, then Update. Select “Check for Updates”, and then once Windows has detected any critical updates, let it download and install them. Once this process is done, Windows will ask to reboot.

  • For Windows 7 down to Windows XP, this is even easier. Click on Start, the Windows Update. Let it go through its download process if there’s anything to install, and when complete, Windows 8/7/Vista/XP will prompt the user to completely shut down. Once done, turn it back on, and everything will be ready to go.

  • For Apple Macintosh systems running OS X, to make an update, go into the App Store, and select Updates. If there are any updates to be made, OS X will have the user download them and install them:

Updating Apple Macintosh OS X
Updating Apple Macintosh OS X

Once the updates has been made, perform a WiFi signal test by simply reconnecting the device in question and seeing how the WiFi communications works.

Updating Routers

Updating routers can be a little more tricky. Every system has its own method, but most of the time we can log in through a browser. We’ll need to know the IP address of the router in question. For most home systems, this is going to be HTTP or HTTPS connection.

Then we need to log into it. Usually, the side of the router will have a printout explaining what the administrator username and password are. For example, this ARRIS router we can connect to (a typical gateway address), and then log in with the user Admin:

Updating Routers
Updating Routers

Check the manual for the specific model in question. Some will allow us to upgrade the firmware from this web system. Others will need us to download software from the company website. In those cases, we’ll need to know:

  • The router manufacturer
  • The model of the router we need to update

Updating Everything Else

Whatever else we’re connecting through WiFi, usually there will be a way to update its firmware or other systems. Tablets like the iPad, game consoles like the Playstation 4 or Nintendo Switch — all of them will have a process to update their systems. Check the manual or the company website to see how. Most of the time, it’ll alert you that it needs to be updated when the manufacturer releases new updates.

Measure WiFi Signal Strength

All right, we’ve updated all of the devices in our place, but we’re still having issues. What we need now is some knowledge of what the WiFi network looks like across the building.

The best way do this is with a WiFi strength test — we measure and record the strength of the network across a location. A really good WiFi test app for this situation is NetSpot. It’s available as a free download here. One of the great strengths of NetSpot is it can chart the signal strength across a location.


Using NetSpot, we can measure one or several different WiFi signals and get a reading on their strength. Here’s a short description on how to do it:

  1. Download and install Netspot. Once it’s installed, launch it.
  2. Select Inspector mode. It will display a list of all of the WiFi networks:
NetSpot Inspector mode
NetSpot Inspector mode
  1. Double click on the WiFi network we want to measure. Netspot will automatically scan and update the signal to noise ratio graph:
NetSpot the signal to noise ratio graph
NetSpot the signal to noise ratio graph
  1. Move to another location in your residence or business, and see how the signal changes. This lets our WiFi signal strength app show us how the signal changes depending on where we are.

As the signal changes, we’ll be able to figure out where in the building has weaker sections or more noise. We’ll also be able to see what other WiFi networks are running, so in case someone is running a rogue network in our location, we can triangulate it’s position and route it out.

  1. For users of NetSpot Home/ PRO/ Enterprise, an even better tool is Survey Mode. With this, we can load up a map of the local network, and then move from location to location. This lets us use Netspot as a WiFi signal strength meter, tracking how the signal rises and falls based on where we are. NetSpot will build up data on how the network looks at each position, until it can display how it appears against the entirety of the map:
NetSpot Survey mode
NetSpot Survey mode
  1. Once we can see what sections are strong or weak through our WiFi strength app, then we can decide where to move our routers. If we see a region more blue (aka — weak signal), we can just move our router closer to that location.
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Now that we have the knowledge, finding out the best way to upgrade our WiFi signal strength will be a snap. As we move the router, we can redo our survey and then use NetSpot to perform another WiFi site survey to see in real time how it affects signal strength. Perhaps we need to use a WiFi booster or go to a mesh network to get a better connection. But instead of guessing — now we’ll know.

But whatever it takes, making sure our systems are up to date, and actually being able to see how the network looks across our location helps us increase the WiFi strength.

Knowledge is power. Use it, and the knowledge of the Internet will be at your hands.
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Read next in All about Wi-Fi

If you want to dive deeper into this Wi-Fi thing, check out the following articles about Wi-Fi security, the best apps for wireless networking, inflight WiFi, etc.
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Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting runs on a MacBook (macOS 10.12+) or any laptop (Windows 7/8/10/11) with a standard 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax wireless network adapter.
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