How to Make the Most of Your Home Wi-Fi
By now, most of us are connected to the internet in our homes. Government figures from 2020 show that 96% of households in Great Britain were benefitting from an internet connection, which was up 3% on the previous year.
We are quickly reaching a point where hopefully everyone will be able to enjoy a fast, reliable internet service.
As with any tech, though, there are often opportunities to push it to its full potential with a few simple tweaks.
If you are in a home with broadband but are finding that the Wi-Fi signal drops out, or things are a little slow sometimes, read on to see how you can make your connection better and forget buffering for good.
1. Move your router
Sometimes, the router is kept out of sight in a cupboard. This way, it’s less of an eyesore and frees up a little additional space within the home. However, this isn’t always the best option. If a router is shut away, the enclosing walls or electronics won’t allow the router’s full signal to be utilised. This means you may not be getting the best from your Wi-Fi bubble.
A Wi-Fi bubble is the range covered by your Wi-Fi signal, if you are wasting it, there is a chance you are losing some opportunities to be connected. If you can position it somewhere more central, you’ll see the benefits as the range is expanded.
Consider putting it somewhere more central. You may need to invest in some extra cables to help reach it though!
Sometimes there are several obstacles you need to be aware of where a central position may not be good enough if other items are nearby:
You can’t see the internet as the data flows through the air to your phone, TV, tablet or console. It makes you think it just passes through things to get to where it needs to be. Well, it kind of does…. But some items are impenetrable or at least resistant to the power of the internet. Certain items can immediately restrict the coverage your Wi-Fi may have. Furniture can be a huge disturbance to your Wi-fi signal, big chunky, thick furniture may harm your signal and if your router is hidden behind items like this, the signal will be somewhat compromised. Simply moving it from behind something can massively change your reach.
Windows and mirrors
You probably never thought a window or mirror could harm your Wi-Fi signal but they can! How? Through the reflection causing the signal to reflect and not travel as it should. Some windows have a film built into them which makes it harder for Wi-Fi signals to pass through, additionally other window types have a tint which works in the same way. Mirrors can be just as problematic due to the metal backings they have. To avoid your signal being compromised, your router and Wi-Fi extenders are best kept away from windows or mirrors where possible.
Some of the most important items in your house can harm the way your Wi-Fi moves around your home. Items that contain metal and electrical components can interfere with the signal. Essentials such as washing machines, freezers and microwaves can cause your Wi-Fi signal to struggle to reach its best levels. You won’t be able to move many of your appliances so consider an area free from such appliances when connecting your router.
Concrete walls are a little like kryptonite to Wi-Fi signal, in some cases, even signal boosters cannot penetrate it. When putting your router in or positioning your Wi-Fi extenders, look for areas away from any concrete walls to encourage a better spread of the signal and an increased Wi-Fi bubble.
Considering we consume a lot of video via Wi-Fi, it may be surprising to know that devices that broadcast video to you could actually harm the Wi-Fi signal quality and reach. If you have baby monitors or security cameras that send pictures to a TV or computer via cables or satellite signals, you could find your Wi-Fi signal compromised.
Water can be a very tricky obstacle for a Wi-Fi signal so when putting your fish tank into place, think about the router too. If it is too close to the tank, the vast volume of water next to it will hinder the spread of the signal.
2. Change the channel, change the band
Interference can be a big problem when you live in an area that is densely populated. Changing the channels on your router can enable you to enjoy a better quality of Wi-Fi. By default, your router will choose a channel and stick to it, but if others near to you are on the same channel, you could encounter signal congestion. A better router will automatically switch to find the best channel, but older, cheaper types will not.
To combat any potential congestion, there are a few things you can do.
Firstly, check which frequency your router is operating on. Most are dual-band, using the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies. 5 GHz offers a faster speed, but it isn’t as strong as its counterpart at handling distance or obstructions. Simply look at the network admin interface and optimise for the performance that will benefit you most. Many routers will offer you the option to use the same network on both bands. Find the 5GHz band and give it the same SSID and password as the 2.4 GHz frequency. This way, your device will always automatically choose the best signal.
Next, check which channels other wireless networks nearby are using. This can be done via some simple commands on your PC (these can vary per operating system). Look for channels 1, 6 and 11 as options for you to use. These tend to be the ones that do not overlap with others.
3. Check for Wi-Fi invaders
Sometimes, your Wi-Fi is getting bogged for reasons other than router location, frequencies, or channels. It could be that other users are accessing your broadband uninvited. If you have a weak password or an open network, others can easily join your network and compromise the quality of service you receive. Luckily, there are tools available to help you discover who has invaded your Wi-Fi. Wireless Network Watcher is a great free tool that will help you discover who is on your network. Once you have found them, remove them from your network and then secure it with a strong password, preferably on WPA2 rather than WEP.
4. Invest in high-quality Wi-Fi extenders
If your Wi-Fi settings seem too complicated to figure out, or you have checked them all and they are showing what they need to, you may need a Wi-Fi extender. These signals won’t be as strong as those directly from the router, so to get the best signal, choose their location wisely. At Digital Home we offer customers the chance to extend their signal should they find some black spots within the house. Whilst the router, by its nature is powerful, some of the issues we referenced in an earlier paragraph often mean you may miss out on being connected everywhere. To make sure you get the best possible coverage we have provided a few additional tips on how to use Wi-Fi extenders. By utilising these, you can keep a strong signal in all areas of your property.
5. Upgrade your router
The age of your router could well determine just how fast your internet works. You may have been using the same router for some time now, and with the speed that technology develops, it may no longer be able to keep up with your demands.
Older routers tend to cap at fairly low bandwidths as well as having shorter ranges. Therefore, the solutions we have suggested above may not make any difference if the router is already operating at its maximum capacity.
6. Use a wired connection
Whilst Wi-Fi is all about wireless internet use, you will only get the best and fastest connection if it is a wired one! Items such as consoles, PCs and, on-demand TV operate better when connected with a wire. The data they demand is higher than many other bits of tech so connecting them directly to your router will give a faster and smoother internet experience. A Wired connection for example will be more likely to give you the incredible 900Mbps provided by Digital Home. Using the correct ethernet cables and a gigabit-capable device is a sure-fire way to get the best internet speeds.
7. Consider the position of network points
Where your internet coverage enters your house is important as it is from this point that your wi-fi bubble starts. With that in mind, the network points in your house are important in getting the best coverage for you. Determine where you are most likely to need Wi-Fi coverage. You wouldn’t for example place a network point in your garage. As we touched upon earlier, certain obstacles within your building can hinder the reach of your bubble so the location of network points should take this into consideration.
These are just a few of our top tips – sometimes, however, it all comes down to your provider and the services they offer. At Digital Home, we ensure that the whole family can get connected, using the internet for what they want, when they want. With 900 Mbps available, downloads have never been so quick. Contact us today to see how we can change your Wi-Fi for the better and keep you connected all the time