8 Proven Ways to Speed Up Wi-Fi at Home

We’ve all had moments where it feels like we’ll live or die by our internet connection. Whether it’s a client who needs a file RIGHT AWAY, or you need to fix your fantasy lineup because your star player got hurt 2 minutes before game time – the Wi-Fi connection in your home will either save or ruin your day, and everything from your fridge to holiday decorations can contribute to a lousy connection. Let’s take a look at seven of these common connection killers.

First up – the microwave. If you just popped a bag of popcorn in your microwave to chow down while catching up on your favorite series, you may want to wait until it’s popped before hitting that play button. This is because both your Wi-Fi signal and microwave oven operate on the same frequency, which is 2.4 GHz. Every microwave should be properly shielded so it doesn’t leak any radiation, but the fact is, just about all of them leak enough to cause electromagnetic or radio frequency (RF) interference. Before you freak out about your microwave “leaking radiation”, rest assured these frequencies are nowhere close to the ionizing radiation that can be harmful to people or pets. It’s more like a radio signal, and yes, your Wi-Fi signal is a radio signal - although it’s broadcasting at a higher frequency than a traditional radio does. This interference, at 2.4GHz can be caused by devices like your router, baby monitors, cordless landline phones, and just about any Bluetooth device you can think of. Less common sources of the same interference can come from toaster ovens, heating pads, electric blankets, electric bug zappers and touch-controlled lighting. The best fix for this is to use Wi-Fi equipment that uses the 5GHz frequency on the 802.11n network. Your router may also have a setting for “auto channel”, but that’s designed to separate multiple Wi-Fi signals and may not work as well as simply using a more modern router.

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Second on the list – Drones and other remote control toys. Many of these toys “talk” to the remote you’re using on that 2.4 GHz frequency I just told you about. Not all models will cause this interference, but more powerful and long-range devices can. The fix for this, in addition to having an updated router – is just don’t play with your drone while streaming Stranger Things at the same time. Easy peasy.

Number three! Holiday / decorative lights. Yup. The same string lights you use on your Christmas tree or put up around the room for a cool party could be the reason you can’t stream that awesome party song playlist you spent hours and hours on! These lights use special “sparkling” chips that will generate a magnetic field that interacts with various radio frequencies being broadcast by your router. Now, you don’t want to ruin the mood you created with your cool lights, so the best fix for this one is to just try and keep your router as far from the lights as you can.

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Fourth up: The fridge. Sheesh. Is there any kitchen appliance that won’t mess up my internet? It sure doesn’t seem like it. An overall rule is that electrical appliances that use pipes and circulate water are not so nice your Wi-Fi signal. This is because water has the ability to retain energy from wireless waves, which can mess up your connection. So yeah – that means your clothes washer and dishwasher, too. If you’re having a tough time refreshing your social media feed in the kitchen or laundry room – now you know why.

Five. Mirrors. “Mirror mirror, on the wall. Who has the most selfie likes of them all?” Good luck trying to find out if your router is behind a mirror. The same reflective material that helps us check our hair also reflects the signal coming from the router. As a result, it can also act as a kind of shield and cause the signal to bounce off of it. When you have a mirror near the router, it can make the signal seem slow and unstable. So, probably best NOT to put your router in the bathroom, either.

Number Six. Brick and stone walls. So this one won’t have as simple of a fix because chances are, if your house or apartment has brick and stone walls, they’re probably there for a reason. You know, like to make the building a building. The most common building materials that can keep you from having a reliable internet connection are marble, cement, concrete, plaster and, as I already mentioned, brick. This is why, in 2 story houses, someone will usually have an extremely weak connection on one of the floors, depending on which one your router is on. One way to help avoid this is to place your router in a more open area of your home, away from any walls at all. This isn’t always ideal, but can be a solution if the materials your home is built with are keeping you from having a strong connection.

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And finally – lucky number seven! Metal furniture and surfaces. You may have more of this around than you think. Metal fixtures, utility shelves and the like can all give your Wi-Fi a rough time. Metal is a conductor, so it absorbs electricity, and as you recall, a Wi-Fi signal is made of radio and electromagnetic waves. So, any metal surface or object in your home keeps the waves from getting around the house. For the best signal possible, make sure your router isn’t placed on a metal shelf, or  is blocked by any metal furniture. Now, everyone’s set up at home is different – so what if you go through this list and you still have crummy Wi-Fi? Here’s a quick rundown of tips that will definitely help. Update your wireless router’s firmware. Sometimes all it takes is giving your router an update. If you didn’t know, the firmware is similar to software – like the operating system on your phone or computer – that is permanently stored in a piece of hardware – like your router. Unlike your phone or computer, however, when there’s an update available, you don’t get that annoying notification letting you know. Most modern routers still make this process pretty easy, requiring little more than logging in to the router’s admin screen and clicking an “update firmware” button. Older routers may require you to go to the manufacturer's website and download a file you have to install from your computer. Even if you aren’t having trouble with your Wi-Fi, it’s a good idea to keep your router firmware up to date for other performance improvements and security patches. Proper Router Placement I already touched on this a little, but where you put your router can have the biggest impact on the quality of the signal. You’d probably rather hide this ugly box behind a bunch of books or video games or in a cabinet, but if getting the best signal is your concern, this isn’t a great idea. An open area is ideal. If the router has adjustable antennas, make them vertical in order to project the best coverage. If you can place it higher up in your space, that helps too.

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Finally, a quick app store search will lead you to a variety of tools that will help to see your network coverage and show the weak and strong spots in your network right on your phone or tablet. Check the frequency Remember all that talk about signals and how some appliances like your microwave are on the same frequency as one of the most common Wi-Fi bands? Most routers will let you change this in the admin settings. If you have a dual-band router, it’s possible that the other frequency, 5GHz, isn’t turned on. So take a few minutes to check and make sure you have this option activated. Get a Wi-Fi extender If you need to cover a lot of space, this may be your best option. The fact is, your router can only cover so much space and if you have more than it can reach or have a lot of unavoidable barriers like those brick walls, what can you do? Range extenders seem similar to a regular router, but they don’t work the same. First, they use the existing Wi-Fi signal from your main router and just rebroadcast it. As far as how your router understands it – it just looks like another device on the network, like your laptop or tablet. Even though it isn’t the same as a router – you still need to consider the same rules for deciding where to put it. You want to be sure it’s close enough to the router that it gets a good signal, but close enough to where the signal gets weak to extend the signal. An extended signal won’t be as good or fast as the original, but it’ll surely enable you to get that file to your boss, and update your fantasy sports lineup in the nick of time. When was the most inconvenient time you to lost a Wi-Fi connection? Let me know down in the comments. If you learned something new today then give this video a like and share it with a friend.

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