Stop Camping Out By Your Router and Do This Instead
It’s 7:30 in the morning. You’ve got a busy day to get through, so you immediately boot up your work laptop from your home office. On today’s to-do list are three video conference calls, a presentation to finalize, and some online research for a webpage. Readout below to stop camping out by your router and do the following steps instead.
You open your email, but it’s not connecting. The interoffice program is stuck as it tries to pull down updates from your company’s server. Then you attempt to bring up a website you often go to, but it won’t load either.
A slow Wi-Fi connection is to blame, but you don’t have time to try to fix it now. Your first Zoom call is in five minutes. So you take your laptop upstairs closer to your router. Hopefully, there won’t be much noise coming from the street or the next-door neighbors.
Scenarios like this are all too common, especially in larger homes, apartment buildings, or buildings made of concrete. Wi-Fi performance can degrade, become spotty, and be inconsistent. When you have several devices trying to connect at the same time, things can get even worse.
Moving everything closer to your router may work in the short term. However, it’s not a practical or convenient fix. Here’s a look at alternative solutions and the steps you can take to get better Wi-Fi connectivity.
Double-Check the Basics
If you call your internet service provider for help, they’ll have you start with some basic troubleshooting. However, you usually don’t need to wait on the phone to try these steps.
Routers and modems can get hung up on everything they need to process. Sometimes resetting your router is all you need to do to get your Wi-Fi working again. Your ISP may have an app you can use to send a reset command. You can also simply power it down and back up.
When you turn off your router, that’s also a good time to check the connections. Make sure that the lines are secure and the power cord is plugged into a working surge protector. Lightning storms and power surges can cause damage to your router. A surge protector can prevent that from happening.
Once your router is back online, perform a speed test. Your service provider may have a URL or an app you can use to do this. If not, there are sites online you can find with a simple search of the keywords “internet speed test.”
When you do a speed test, write down the results of your download and upload speeds. You can do the test near your router and from each room in your house. Make note of where your signal might be losing its strength and reach.
Then do a speed test with the different devices you use and record any variances. Your new laptop may have a faster processor and dual-band Wi-Fi capabilities. An older smartphone or tablet might struggle because of aging hardware.
Another thing to check is where you placed your router. Is it by a window, sitting on the floor, or in a non-central location in your home? All of this can impact your router’s ability to send out even signal strength. Move your router away from windows and to a central location.
Upgrade Your Router and Service Plan
Routers age just like computers, smartphones, and other internet-capable devices. As new tech standards and capabilities develop, older hardware can’t keep up. If you’re leasing your router from your ISP, ask if you can swap it out. See if there’s a newer model that can handle bandwidth upgrades or updated Wi-Fi standards.
It’s also possible that the router you have is failing. Your service provider should be able to run diagnostics remotely. Then they can either send a replacement or a local tech to fix it. If you own your router, check your ISP’s list of compatible devices. Maybe there’s a newer model you can buy.
Like your modem or router, your service plan may need an upgrade. Your habits may have changed, or maybe you simply have more connected devices now. That new 4K smart TV will take up more bandwidth than one with standard resolution. Installing smart home devices, such as thermostats and irrigation system controllers, can also put more strain on your Wi-Fi connection.
A plan with download speeds up to 10Mbps may work for email and web surfing, but not for 4K streaming. For video calls, you’ll need up to 20Mbps, and for online gaming, you’ll want at least 35Mbps.
The number of devices you have going at the same time will also impact recommended speeds. Lower speeds will accommodate two to three simultaneous connections. If you have five or more devices, you’ll need increased bandwidth. Especially if all those devices have 4K capabilities.
Improve Your Router’s Reach
Sometimes a single router won’t provide enough signal strength to cover every room in your home. You may find that there’s a room or two in the basement where your connection always drops or lags. Or you might have a corner bedroom upstairs where you’re able to connect, but the signal is weak. If you have a larger house, or one with two or three stories, mesh Wi-Fi could provide a solution.
A mesh system has separate devices you can install throughout your house. These devices work like access points, distributing a more even signal to the space where they’re placed. Your service provider may sell compatible devices you can use to set up a mesh Wi-Fi system. Mesh systems can be a good solution for those whose internet connection demands are consistent throughout their homes.
However, consistency isn’t always possible since family members’ activities and needs change. For households who have fluctuating connectivity needs, adaptive Wi-Fi technology can provide the best solution.
Adaptive Wi-Fi learns how you use the internet in your home and adjusts signal strengths according to your behaviors. This type of system also relies on access points.
An adaptive system will note that you stream 4K video from your living room after dinner. It’ll then start to distribute more bandwidth coverage to the access point in that room at that time. As homes become more connected and full of smart devices, adaptive Wi-Fi solutions will optimize internet resources for varying demands.
Slow Wi-Fi is frustrating, and you might think it’s something you just have to put up with. However, the latest tech can help. You don’t have to keep moving your entire workspace closer to your router. Start with some basic troubleshooting and get the upgrades you need. If you’re still having problems with your connectivity, it’s time to try something new.
A mesh or adaptive system can give you a better distribution of Wi-Fi signals throughout your home. And an adaptive system takes the problem out of your hands by doing the work of learning your behaviors. This fixes the source of the problem with a flexible solution that can change with you. The only thing you have to lose is a spotty connection.