Thursday, 2 June 2011

10 Ways to Boost Your Wireless Signal

You want to get the most out of your wireless device and all the speed you can muster when you surf the web. The first thing you’ll want to do to make that happen is to make sure you’ve got a strong signal for your wireless device. Sometimes the elements aren’t all that cooperative. Obstructions, distance from the source, and antenna strength may conspire against you. Fortunately, there are some ways to overcome some of these. Here are 10 ways to boost your wireless signal:

  1. Re-positioning your router/antenna is almost always the best place to start when your signal is less than ideal. If you haven’t already, place it in as central a location as possible. There should be as few walls or other signal obstructions between it and the location(s) you will be working from most often.
  2. Repeaters can be purchased, which can boost the signal strength of your existing antenna. Placing a repeater at a midpoint between your router and the furthest-most point of your coverage area is ideal.
  3. You can also opt for an external antenna to replace the internal antenna of your router when so-equipped. Most router antennae are omnidirectional, which means they transmit in all directions. This isn’t always the best configuration, as it could also mean that much of your signal is being sent outside your area or into a nearby wall. Try a high-gain antenna that focuses the signal in one direction, where it’s needed.
  4. Change channels. There are three channels that your router uses – 1, 6 and 11 – and it’s possible that the one you’re using isn’t providing the best possible signal. Consult your manufacturer’s configuration web page for how to change the channel.
  5. While you’re there, check for any firmware updates that may increase your router’s performance, including signal strength.
  6. Check also for firmware updates for your laptop’s network adapter.
  7. Check to see if your router is getting interference from other devices that share its operating frequency. Most are set to use the 2.4 GHz range, which is shared by cordless phones, garage door openers, baby monitors and microwave ovens. You may need to put some distance between them, or consider switching to an 802.11n router, which also uses the 5.0GHz frequency.
  8. Try replacing the wireless adapter in your laptop with a USB adapter with external antenna.
  9. Check out for free open-source software that can increase your router’s performance. Caution: use of this software can in some cases void your router’s warranty.
  10. Using a single vendor for your router, antenna and adapter can mean better performance too.
Depending on your situation, gaining signal boost may be as simple as relocating or reconfiguring your router or antenna. Experiment a little before spending money. You could have everything you need already, just not in the best location.
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