Anymore, we are becoming increasingly more dependent on WiFi technologies. In this article I am going to show you 10 ways you can improve WiFi speed in your home today. Optimizing your WiFi will not only improve speed, but also signal range and quality.
How to improve WiFi Speed?
So how do you improve WiFi speed in your home? Here are the 10 ways you can improve your WiFi speeds, each of which we’ll be discussing in detail:
- Replace your old router with a new one.
- Move your router to a more central location.
- Keep your router’s firmware up-to-date.
- Use WiFi repeaters or extenders.
- Place high bandwidth traffic on 5 GHz frequency.
- Place non-critical low bandwidth traffic on 2.4 GHz frequency.
- Find clean channels to broadcast on.
- Prioritize traffic using QoS (Quality of Service).
- Consider using Power-line adpaters.
- Periodically reboot your router.
1. Replace your old router with a new one…
This is probably the most obvious option in the list. If you’re running an older router, leveraging dated technologies, this is the easiest way to improve WiFi speed. I did a comprehensive article reviewing the best routers for 2020, be sure to check it out after you’re done here.
To put it simply, you need a router that can meet the demand of wireless streaming and gaming in 2020 and beyond. This means you want a router that supports multiple bands, multiple frequencies, has powerful antennas, high performing CPUs and copious amounts of RAM…yes copious!
The reason RAM is so important is that it serves as a memory store, or cache for all the data being delivered between devices in your home. Little Suzy streaming Netflix in the living room, little Johnny playing his favorite game online with his buddies in the rec room, the Mrs.’s in the bedroom shopping Amazon, and of course you, Dad, figuring out a way to optimize it all and save money at the same time.
Forgive me if I seem a little biased…I’m just going off personal experience!
Of course, the router plays an extremely important role in all of this. The data simply can’t be consumed and transmitted as fast as it’s being received, so having an abundance of RAM and fast CPU allows the router to store these packets of data until such time that it can be consumed and transmitted. The more you can store in memory, the less likely to see any kind of buffering or jitter in your playback.
Below are my top 3 picks for routers in 2020. If you’d like a more in-depth review of each of these, be sure to check out my article here. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to just list out my favorites and mention a few notable features.
#1 – Nighthawk X10
This router is my top pick in the list for features and price. It’s a high-powered router without the high-powered price tag. The Nighthawk X10 has a powerful 1.7 GHz Quad-core CPU and plenty of RAM to go along with it. Some notable features:
- 4 powerful antennas
- Supports Tri-band WiFi
- Supports QoS (more on this later)
- High throughput
For more detailed specs. Be sure to check out the description and reviews of this product on Amazon here.
Moving up in price-point and power, is the TP-Link Archer AC5400. This router just looks awesome and I assure you its performance is no joke. Here are some notable features of the Archer AC5400 you may want to pay attention to:
- 8 high powered antennas for maximum range
- Supports MIMO technology and Beamforming
- Boasts a 1.8 GHz, 64-bit, Quad-core CPU
- 3 co-processor, each with 1 GB of RAM
Really, I could go on and on listing the bad-ass features of this router, but I don’t want to bore you. If you would like to see a complete list of its features and read reviews, be sure to check it out on Amazon here.
#3 – ASUS GT-AX11000
The last router I’m going to list, for the purpose of this article anyway, is the ASUS GT-AX11000. Now word of warning, this router is not cheap…at over $350 dollars, you’re going to have to spend a little to unleash this bad-boy.
The ASUS GT-AX11000 is designed with heavy gamers and content streamers in mind. Here are some notable feature you should be aware of:
- It supports all the same protocols and technologies as every other router in the list; plus
- A dedicated 2.5 Gbps gaming port for blazing speeds; plus
- An extremely powerful 1.8 GHz Quad-core CPU; plus
- Supports 15 additional channels in the least-congested 5 GHz frequency range; plus
- Supports wireles AC and AX technologies.
Again, if you want more information on this router, check it out on Amazon here.
2. Move your router to a more central location…
This is one that is sometimes easier said than done. I don’t know how many friends and family say their WiFi is not good, and it’s only when I ask that they tell me their router is in the basement. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that things like concrete walls, spanning multiple floor and ceilings, will seriously diminish your WiFi signal.
The problem is usually your broadband or fiber connection enters your home in the basement beside your service panel. Of course, this makes it very easy to just connect it up right there. Typically, this is where the installers will be inclined to connect it…least amount of work involved!
However, it is not nearly the ideal location for your router. You can spend $500 on a router and if you stick it in the basement and wonder why you’re not getting a consistent signal in your second floor bedroom…well one word…concrete!
Ideally, you find a central location on your main floor to install your router so that no matter where you are you’re covered. Try to limit any obstructions as much as possible, and this usually means you’re going to have to run a wire somehow.
In my case, I simply drilled a hole from my basement ceiling up through the main floor. I then ran a wire from where the feed came in to the house, up into the main floor entrance closet (where I drilled the hole). This way, the router is not sticking out like a sore thumb and my coverage is optimal.
Bottom line for this tip…think about your router location, and move it if at all possible!
3. Keep your router’s firmware up-to-date…
This is one you may not think about, but is extremely important for the performance of your router. Routers have their own operating system or firmware as it’s commonly known. The firmware is the software running on your router that tells the hardware what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. It is vital to the operation of your router.
Often times, out-of-the-box, your router will come with a base or “stock” firmware from the factory. It is highly recommended that one of the first things you do when you power-up and connect your router, is update the firmware. This typically involves the following steps:
- Log into your router using an admin username and password
- Navigate to the Tools/Utilities/Firmware section of your router’s interface.
- Ensure you have an internet connection.
- Download and install the latest firmware (usually an automated feature once initiated).
One thing that is extremely important: Make sure during the firmware update process you don’t interrupt it (i.e., switch your router off, or unplug the internet). If you do, this will essentially “brick” your router, rendering it a boat anchor.
Firmware is an important optimization step as it provides bug fixes, enhancements and overall better utilization of the hardware in your router. This is sure to improve WiFi speed as well as improve reliability and stability.
4. Use WiFi repeaters or extenders…
Sometimes moving your router is just not an option. For this scenario, I recommend the use of WiFi Repeaters. These little, and inexpensive devices, allow you to extend the range of any WiFi network with ease.
Remember, range and speed are two tightly coupled characteristics. While it may be true that you can have good WiFi speeds over a short range. The flip side of that is not always the case! Meaning, it is difficult to have good WiFi speed when you’re on the edge of your range.
This is largely because of the quality and stability of your signal at these fringe areas. Instead, your device will miss, or drop packets resulting in choppy are buffered playback. WiFi range extenders to the rescue!
My top pick, and one I’ve had very good success with is the TP-Link AC750 WiFi Range Extender. Sure you can pay a lot more for one of these devices and in some cases it may be warranted. However, I’ve had very good success with this product and at less than $30 bucks, it’s definitely worth a try.
Getting one of these devices setup and installed is a snap. Simply plug it in and connect it to your existing WiFi network and it will do the rest.
5. Place high bandwidth traffic on 5 GHz…
The next set of steps may be a little more advanced but certainly easy to do. Often times routers will be broadcasting at the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. For this tip to improve WiFi speed, I’m suggesting that you place only the more critical, high-bandwidth type devices and applications on the 5 GHz band.
The 5 GHz band is a much wider spectrum than the 2.4 GHz band offering many “broadcast channels” that aren’t over-crowded or bombarded by preexisting wireless technologies. 5 GHz is ideal for high-bandwidth applications and devices that need high throughput.
There is one drawback, however, to the 5 GHz band. It won’t have the same range at this higher frequency as do the lower frequency channels (i.e., 2.4 GHz). So while it is desirable to use the 5 GHz range, sometimes it may be difficult to receive the signal over greater distance…again another reason to consider the WiFi range extenders in the previous section.
Once you’ve decided which devices should be on the 5 GHz band, it’s time to move your not-so-critical devices to the 2.4 GHz band.
6. Place low bandwidth traffic on 2.4 GHz…
Now I’m not saying that all your devices can’t run at 5 GHz, however, if some of your devices aren’t used for streaming or gaming, then just move them over to the 2.4 GHz range and this will help improve WiFi speed of the devices that are running at 5 GHz.
For example, I have a laptop that I use primarily for work. There is no need for me to place it on the 5 GHz band because I simply don’t need the bandwidth or throughput that 5 GHz offers. Instead, I place it on my 2.4 GHz network, this way I’m maximizing the range and minimizing traffic on my 5 GHz network.
7. Find clean channels to broadcast on…
Granted, this is probably the most complicated tip on this list, however, it’s not that difficult to do. Simply log into your router using your admin profile, find the “Wireless” tab and look for the channel you are currently broadcasting on.
Recommended Channels at 2.4 GHz
For your 2.4 GHz network, the answer is simple. There are only 3 “clean” channels at 2.4 GHz that have no overlap. They are, Channels 1, 6, and 11. Most routers by default will use Channel 6 to broadcast on. That means all the neighbors around you are likely also broadcasting on Channel 6, which could create some interference.
If you’re having instability issues on your 2.4 GHz network, consider switching it to Channel 1 first, if it doesn’t improve WiFi speed, then try it on Channel 11 next. I recommend you don’t use any of the other channels in the list.
Recommended Channels at 5 GHz
At 5 GHz the answer is a little more complicated. This is because the spectrum at 5 GHz is much wider at this frequency. Generally, I recommend that you keep this setting in Auto, however, there’s nothing wrong with experimenting to see if you can improve WiFi speed to your devices.
At 5 GHz I recommend you use one of the following channels. They are, Channels 36, 40, 44 and 48. These are generally considered the ideal channels to use for home WiFi.
8. Prioritize traffic using QoS…
Again, probably a more advanced setting, however, if your router support QoS or Quality of Service, it may be worth experimenting with. QoS is setting that allows you to prioritize certain types of traffic over others so that your router caters to those applications or services first.
I know, it sounds like the perfect way to improve WiFi speed right? The problem is, in my experience anyway, sometimes it actually does the opposite. The good thing is, there is no harm in experimenting and monitoring your throughput.
To access your QoS settings, follow these steps (of course depending on your router it may vary slightly):
- Login to your router as an administrator.
- Locate the wireless tab.
- Locate the QoS Settings or Priority Rules.
- Click the Setup button.
- Click the “Add Priority Rule” button or something similar. Typically, routers will have a drop-down list of commonly used applications or programs.
- Choose the priority setting you want – Low, Medium, High and click “Apply”.
Again, depending on your router these steps may not be exact but somewhat similar.
9. Consider using Power-line adapters…
This tip is a bit of a cheat. Meaning, it will not actually improve WiFi speed. Instead, power-line adapters will leverage your existing electrical wiring to bring you a wired connection to your stationary devices. These could include, for example, gaming consoles, smart TVs, blu-ray players, just about any smart device that you typically don’t move around.
I’ve had a lot of success using power-line adapters. They are compact, easy to setup, and work impressively well. Typically they come in a pack of two, but are perfectly expandable. One adpater is located near year router plugged into the wall, and then an Ethernet cable running from the adapter into one of your routers switch ports (see illustration above).
The other matching adapter is located at, or near, the device you want to wire into. Again, plugged into the wall and then an Ethernet cable running from the adapter to your smart device’s Ethernet port.
The power-line adapter I recommend is the Netgear 2000 Mbps version depicted below. This is a very good unit offering the following features:
- Extremely fast speed. Up to 2000 Mbps (theoretical).
- It has a pass-through outlet to allow you to still use your plug for other devices.
- Two Ethernet ports to allow you to plug in two different devices.
- Homeplug AV2 technology allows support for Gigabit speeds through your electrical outlets.
- Plug and Play – sets up in minutes.
For a detailed look at this product, be sure to check it out on Amazon here.
10. Periodically reboot your router…
Alright, this one might seem a little silly but when all else fails reboot your router. In fact, I recommend rebooting your router every now and then as part of good general maintenance. The reason is, a reboot effectively resets your device. This can eliminate issues with memory or corrupted cache, reset “dead” or inactive connections, assignments and routing paths. A reboot basically gets rid of the garbage so your router is working with a current snapshot of your network.
Where to go from here?
Well I hope I’ve given you some things to think about in this article. With any luck, if you apply one or more of these tips you will improve WiFi speed in your house. If you did enjoy this article, I’ve compiled a short-list of others you may also find interesting below:
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