Between your Macs, iPads, Apple TVs, smart speakers, and iPhones, you probably have a lot of devices that rely on a speedy and stable Wi-Fi connection. But what if you don’t have that?
If you’re running into less-than-ideal Wi-Fi speeds and performance, then there are a number of things that may be the culprit. Here are some ways you can boost the performance of your own home Wi-Fi network.
1. Replace your router (if needed)
It’s a simple fact that newer hardware will offer better performance than the old equipment. So if your Wi-Fi performance is suffering, you should double-check your router.
Older routers will typically use older or even obsolescent versions of the Wi-Fi standard. (In addition to providing better performance, newer routers will also deal with some of the problems outlined in this article below.)
Using the stuff you have is usually a better option. But if you haven’t upgraded your router in ages, it may be time to look at a new one. Just make sure to check with your ISP before buying one.
2. Set a password
There’s one best practice that you should use across all of your electronic devices: if you have the ability to set a password, do it.
That’s because unsecured Wi-Fi networks are basically open for anyone to piggyback on. Someone may be stealing the bandwidth that you pay for — and slowing down your Wi-Fi connection as a result.
So set a password on your Wi-Fi router if you don’t have one already. It’s best to avoid using the router’s default password, too. It’s pretty simple for Wi-Fi thieves to look up the default password for a router if they know its manufacturer and model.
3. Reboot your router
When’s the last time you actually rebooted your router? If the answer is “too long ago to remember,” then that may be the culprit of your slow Wi-Fi.
For most routers, a reboot typically involves just unplugging it, waiting 30 seconds, and plugging it back in.
Other routers may actually on physical on and off switches. If that’s the case, just be sure to wait at least 30 seconds before turning it back on.
4. Update your router’s firmware
Updating your router’s firmware is highly recommended since firmware updates often contain under-the-hood improvements and important security patches.
It could also have a positive effect on your Wi-Fi performance. Unfortunately, updating your router’s firmware depends entirely on the manufacturer and specific model of your device.
Updating the firmware could be as simple as entering your admin panel and hitting an Update button. Older routers may require you to download a firmware file from the manufacturer’s website. We recommend Googling the specific model of your router to find the firmware update process.
5. Check your router’s position
Your router probably isn’t a very attractive appliance, so many users probably stick them somewhere out-of-the-way and hidden. But that could have a negative impact on Wi-Fi speeds.
Routers work best if they’re in the center of a house so that their signals can reach more areas of the environment.
More than that, you’ll want to keep routers out in the open and away from obstructions. Walls can impact a router’s signal, while kitchen appliances and other electronics are sure to cause problems.
6. Use the right frequency
Many users these days have routers that offer two Wi-Fi bands: 2.4GHz and 5GHz. If yours does, you may want to look into switching your devices to the 5GHz band.
That’s because 5GHz bands typically offer faster speeds than 2.4GHz bands. They’re also less likely to run into interference because the 5GHz band isn’t as common as the much more frequently used 2.4GHz band.
With that being said, 5GHz networks do have a couple of weaknesses. Specifically, they aren’t as long-range as 2.4GHz networks and they can’t penetrate through walls and other obstructions as well. So while it may be faster, you may find that it won’t reach as far as your 2.4GHz band.
7. Change the channel
Wi-Fi broadcasts work a bit like freeways, with overlapping channels through which traffic travels. And just like freeways, those channels can get congested by too much traffic — particularly from other devices or Wi-Fi networks within your area.
Generally, the Automatic channel setting on a router will pick the least congested channel. But not all routers offer this type of functionality. If they don’t, you may need to take additional measures.
You may need to change the channel to Channel 1 or Channel 6, depending on the brand of your router. Google how to change the channel on your brand of router and experiment with different channels.
8. Look for bandwidth hogs
If your Wi-Fi network isn’t getting interference from outside sources, then you may want to look within to find the problem. Namely, one of your own devices may be using up more bandwidth than it should.
You can figure out which devices are using too much bandwidth through the administrator panel of your router. Again, there are too many routers to list — so Google the exact make and model of your own device.
Typically, this is the result of malfunctioning hardware or a software bug. So it’s always a good idea to reboot devices on your network periodically and to keep them up-to-date as far as firmware and software.
9. Consider these accessories
If all else fails, you may want to invest in signal-boosting or range-extending accessories for your home Wi-Fi network.
Many routers, for example, allow users to add external antennas to boost signal strength. You’ll want to figure out if your router supports them. If it does, look for an omnidirectional and “high-gain” antenna if possible.
You can also look into wireless range extenders, which can allow your Wi-Fi network to cover more of your house. There are plenty of these on the market, so pick the one that suits your needs, budget, and existing Wi-Fi equipment.
Mike is a freelance journalist from San Diego, California.
While he primarily covers Apple and consumer technology, he has past experience writing about public safety, local government, and education for a variety of publications.
He’s worn quite a few hats in the journalism field, including writer, editor, and news designer.