Before you start making phone calls, start with some WiFi troubleshooting. Start with the oldest trick in the book — turn everything off. That includes your computer, cell/internet phone, unplug your router and modem — and wait 30 seconds or so.
Next, turn on one device at a time and check the WiFi signal on each. If the WiFi starts to drop when you power up a new device, you are simply running too many devices at once and should either look to use fewer devices or invest in new signal boosting equipment.
Video conferencing eats up WiFi
If you’re trying to Zoom and use the internet at the same time and encountering problems it would be wise to use a dedicated device just for video conferencing.
Move your router
Routers, generally, do nothing for the aesthetics of a room. Amongst a curated, beautifully designed space, a black box with flashing lights and antennae sticking up isn’t a good look. However, if you’ve hidden your router in a cupboard somewhere, it may be the reason for your weak WiFi signal.
Placing your router in an open area — higher rather than lower, think shelves and upper floors in a central location — may be the easiest fix of all in figuring out how to improve a weak WiFi signal.Tip 2
Check your cables
Squirrels, for some reason, like to gnaw on cables. Great for their tiny jaws but not so good for your WiFi. Chomping rodents aside, if you have damaged cables, splitters, or poor connections, your WiFi is going to suffer. If you need to replace your cables and can afford them, look for high-quality premium bi-directional coax cables rated for 5-1000MHz data transfer.
Ok, so you’ve done some basic troubleshooting and your WiFi hasn’t improved. Now it’s time to get a little techy. You’ll need to discern if the issue is with your WiFi network or your internet service.
You see, they are two different things. Your modem links your internet connection from your service providers like Verizon or Comcast and your router distributes the signal in your home. Often, they are entwined in the same box and are usually rented by the homeowner from their ISP (internet service provider).
To test the speed of your WiFi stand next to your router with your device and turn the WiFi off and on again on it, making sure all other devices are off. When you back on, go to speedtest.net and follow the instructions, making notes of the upload and download speeds. If you are unsure about the accuracy of your reading, do this a few times and get an average.
Then repeat the process in the area of your home where the WiFi signal is weak and resulting in poor internet performance. If the numbers are the same for both locations and the WiFi is performing badly, your issue is not with your device (s) but with your internet service.
A good speed is a minimum of 10 megabits per second (mbps) and 5 mbps to accommodate HD streaming and video conferencing. The more people and devices the more mbps of WiFi speed you’ll need. A family all using WiFi might want to double or even triple a standard WiFi speed.
Older homes are filled with character, but not with strong WiFi. That’s because, unlike today’s open-plan homes, older homes tend to contain more walls that are often made of brick, chicken wire, or lathe and plaster which inhibits the flow of WiFi throughout the house.
If you’re experiencing a poor WiFi signal at home, you might want to invest in a WiFi extender in each separate room. It won’t boost your speed, but it will help you extend WiFi to the dead zones.
To scientifically check your WiFi signal use Netspot (in Discover mode) free version. You can download it here.
Who knew your WiFi could be tuned? While your WiFi isn’t a piano, it can still be tuned for optimum performance. If you’re constantly figuring out how to pick up a weak WiFi signal, this could be the answer to your problems. You can do the following to get the most out of your home WiFi:
Get a new router
If you’re using an older router that runs at 2.4 GHz, your WiFi signal is swimming through treacle to get to you. Even if you’re running an older router at 5 GHz, your signal won’t be able to travel through walls. If you’re desperate to know how to fix a low WiFi signal you might want to start with a newer router that can switch you to the service that optimizes your needs.
Also, while newer routers tend to upgrade automatically, older routers need their software upgraded manually to stop emitting a low WiFi signal. If you have multiple family members using WiFi at once, you might want to consider a long-range smart router like the Nighthawk that touts its ability to provide WiFi for up to 45 devices simultaneously over 3,000 square feet.
“My Wifi signal is weak and I'm the only one in the house. How is that possible?” This is a more common scenario than you might think. If you don’t want your neighbors and parked cars feeding (and possibly stealing valuable info) off your WiFi and slowing it down, password protects your router.
At least coffee shops make you buy their coffee in exchange for free Wifi.
Invest in the mesh
Mesh systems are like little WiFi booster satellites beaming glorious signals all over the house, instead of relying on one box to do all the heavy lifting. Your modem connects to one of these and the rest connect wirelessly.
There are many to choose from, including Amazon’s Eero, Google WiFi, and Netgear’s Orbi.
After unplugging and replugging your router and modem, most people’s next knee-jerk reaction is to call their ISP. After you have tried all the additional steps mentioned above and tried your best to troubleshoot WiFi interference, it may, indeed, finally be time to share your grievances with your ISP.
These are some of the questions worth asking.
How old is my hardware?
If your modem and router are old, ask about an upgrade or if you should buy one yourself.
How well do you service my neighborhood?
Even some of the biggest ISPs don’t have extensive coverage in all neighborhoods. Although an ISP rep isn’t likely to say, “Our service sucks where you live?” it might be worth looking at your bill and seeing if the speed it claims you are meant to be receiving matches your actual speed.
With more people working from home, many cable companies ISPs that use shared tech experience slow service. If that's the case with you, it might be worth looking into switching providers or asking your current ISP point blank, “Can you tell me how to improve WiFi signal quality?”
They may suggest you pay for a higher speed level which you can agree to do on a trial basis.
If you’ve done all of the aforementioned steps and are still experiencing poor WiFi, you might finally want to check your signal to noise ratio. A what? It refers to all the other radio signals that could be jamming up the free flow of your Wifi such as other Wifi networks, a microwave, refrigerator, TV, and other electronic devices.
A WiFi signal analyzer will get let you know where improvements can be made.
Our world has changed since the introduction of Wifi. It’s contributed massively to our ability to work and stream remotely, from almost anywhere in the world. However, like any man-made technology, it is fallible and when it falters it can feel like our entire world has come crashing down. Don’t panic! By following the basic troubleshooting tips here, you might be able to resolve your issues.
If these don’t do the job, the best apps for WiFi troubleshooting can help to get you surfing, streaming, and posting at lightning speed.