The center of your home’s digital universe is your wireless router. Not the sexiest gadget in your house, but man, it’s not fun when it doesn’t work (or is painfully slow). Most people feel powerless when their connection slows to a snail’s pace: It’s not like routers have a knob you can turn up to eleven! Knob or no knob, there are things you can do to give your Wi-Fi speed a shot in the arm. Let’s run through some of them and see if we can get you up to speed.
Upgrade Your Router
For optimal home network speed, you’ll want the router to be in the middle of all the action. Problem is, most routers are pretty sucky to look at (big, black box with the antennae coming out of it? I’m talking to you), so they aren’t exactly going to pass as objet on a well-styled shelf. We stock and sell only one router and that’s the Apple Airport Extreme. It’s powerful beamforming antenna array, AirPort Extreme gives you up to 3x faster Wi-Fi and a stronger, clearer signal. So, it’s got brains and a nice package too. Its expandable also using either another Airport Extreme or Airport Express.
Relocate Your Router
Now that you have the Airport Extreme let’s get it out in the open so it gets Wi-Fi to every nook and cranny of your home. Ideal spot: Up high, on a flat surface, and in the center of the action. And while the distance between you and your router is important, so is what lies between. Bulky furniture, an aquarium or a giant potted ficus can block the wireless signal. Basically, your Wi-Fi signal doesn’t like detours, so create as few as possible between you. Be especially mindful of metal objects, because they can bounce the signal all over the place. But if you can’t relocate that floor-to-ceiling wine fridge, you’ll want to look into this next tip…
Get a Range Extender
If your Wi-Fi is speedy in the living room, but spotty in the bedroom, you’ll want a range extender (sometimes called a “bridge”). It will grab your Wi-Fi connection from the router with one of its antennae, and spread it around with the other. As noted above you can just get another Airport Extreme or Express. Once installed one of these in will work wonders not only for our guests’ tablet use but for streaming content on a SmartTV as well. The trick is to put it in a part of your home that gets decent-but-not-perfect coverage, so that it can pick up a signal and pass it along to further-flung spaces. Test it out at a mid-point between the router and the device you’re trying to connect, then move it around accordingly.
Play with the frequency
The Apple Airport Extreme transmits at both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies at the same time, your wireless devices will automatically connect to the best available band for the fastest performance possible. Most other routers use the 2.4GHz band as the default frequency. It can get crowded there, particularly if you live in an apartment building or urban area. And wireless signals from your neighbor’s baby monitor or Bluetooth device could also be elbowing their way onto the same frequency as your Wi-Fi. Problem solved with the Airport Extreme! Speaking of neighbors …
Keep the neighbors out
A bunch of neighbors piggybacking on your Wi-Fi will slow it down (not to mention make your home computers vulnerable to attack). Make sure you have a strong password on your Wi-Fi so that a passerby can’t hop onto your network. Hint: Not the default password that your router came with.
To the wall!
If you can plug into the wall, do plug into the wall. Uploading hundreds of photos to the cloud or downloading a giant system update will go faster if you can plug your laptop into an Ethernet cable. Some streaming media boxes are Wi-Fi only, but others offer an Ethernet option, which will free your device from relying on signal strength and make streaming movies faster and less choppy.