All too often I am in a home or office where the client is complaining about their wireless network signal. Their computer is constantly notifying them that their signal is either “low” or unavailable. While there are plenty of software enhancements and hardware devices that can help boost a wireless signal, they are not all easily installed or configured by the average computer user. Often a simple change in the placement of the wireless access point / router can result in a dramatic change to the signal strength.
First and foremost, take a look at your wireless network situation. Where are you most using your wireless network? If you have the wireless access point / router situated in the basement and you are using your wireless network mainly in the first and second floor of your home, you should definitely place the access point either on the first or second floor. Where is best? Personally, I place the access point on the top floor of a location and as close to the middle of the floor as possible. Radio waves travel best down so you will have better reception if your access point is located on the upper most level of the building.
Next, wireless signals have problems moving through thick walls or metal objects such as a mirror. If your access point is placed in front of a thick wall or anything metal consider moving it away from these objects so the signal is not weakened.
Another easy way to ensure you are getting the most from your wireless network is to keep any radio wave emitting electronics away from the access point. For example, cordless phones and microwaves emit radio signals that can interfere with a wireless network signal. Simply keeping these items away can reduce any possible interference.
If your wireless router has a removable antenna(s) you can upgrade the router antenna to boost the broadcast signal. Two models in particular I have had great success with are the TP-Link TL-ANT2405CL ($7) & the TP-Link TL-ANT2408CL. ($8) Each are easy to install and provide an decent boost in wireless signal coverage.
Finally, if you live in an apartment building or a townhome where there is a great possibility of other wireless networks, you can change the channel of your wireless broadcast. Imagine this…you are a watching a television program on channel 11 and another station wants to broadcast a show on the same channel. It won’t work simply because that channel is already being used. The same goes for your wireless network signal. If you are familiar with your wireless router’s user interface you can set the broadcast channel to one not currently being used in your area. To aid with this process, you can use a free program called Netstumbler on your PC or WiFi Analyzer on your Android device. These programs allow you to see what wireless networks are in your area and which channels are being used. Find a channel not being used and change your broadcast channel to that particular channel. See our DIY for using Netstumbler to improve your wireless network reception.
– When dealing with a multilevel home place the wireless router at the top so the signal can travel easily throughout the building.
– Move the access point / router away from any walls or metal objects.
– Keep your router away from any possible electronic interference.
– Upgrade your wireless router antenna.
– Change your access point / router broadcast channel to one not being used in your area.
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