Regular Checkups to Keep Your Wi-Fi Signal Spiffy

If your home Wi-Fi network is like most people’s, you’re probably not getting the very best performance you can out of it. Easy and inexpensive enhancements, such as adding an access point or a simple cycled reboot, can make a world of difference. Also, even small changes within the house, such as the addition of an obstruction to your Wi-Fi signal, can slow things down. In this post, I’ll round up a list of quick checkup tasks you can do on a regular basis to make sure your network is optimized.

Consider adding access points.
In response to a long post I did on Wi-Fi a few months ago, many readers said that they use only a router to send their Wi-Fi signal around their home—no access points. Wi-Fi is radio technology, which means your router’s signal decays with distance. Often, adding just one access point (use the same brand as your router) at a cost well under $100, will radically increase the roaming performance you get. This is especially true if you live in a large home.

When problems arise, do a cycled reboot. You know how rebooting your computer is often the solution to niggling problems that arise, especially if you have your computer on all the time? The same is true for Wi-Fi networks. If your Wi-Fi isn’t working up to snuff, do a cycled reboot of every device that it connects with. Turn off your broadband modem, turn off your router, turn off your access points, and turn off connected devices including the computer your router connects to. Then reboot the computer and broadband modem, reboot your router and access points, and reboot connected devices.

Experiment with the placement of your router and access points. It’s best to have your router placed in a central location, and many people find ways to position it at ceiling level to avoid obstructions. In my home, placing my access point at the top of a central staircase greatly improves downstairs performance. Try not to place routers and access points near metal, windows, mirrors, microwave ovens or interference-generating electrical equipment.

Upgrade your antennas. Many router manufacturers sell inexpensive omnidirectional antennas that you can use as replacements for the standard ones. These can make a big performance difference so check with your router maker.

Quantify your performance. You can download good, free software that will give you feedback on your Wi-Fi performance for various configurations. QCheck is an excellent application for this purpose.

Do you have any good Wi-Fi checkup items to add to this list?