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How Can I Boost My Wireless Signal?

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Awesome! You have wireless.

So why can’t you play Candy Crush on your tablet in the upstairs bathroom?

Your wireless signal depends on two factors: Speed and range. Speed is great, but if it flies only when you sit right next to your router, that’s a problem. What good is house-wide range if the speed won’t even let you open your Twitter feed?

Don’t  spend money on a new router. Here are a few ways you can give your wireless signal a boost.

1.     Center your signal

Routers carry signals in all directions.

They disperse your Wi-Fi like it’s a bubble. Floors, mirrors and walls can interfere with your signal bubble. Even furniture, bookshelves and interior metal beams can degrade your signal. The fewer impediments your signal faces, the better.

Try this: Place your router in the center-most room in the house, as high as possible. Even in a single-level home, your bubble will reach farther.

2.     Change the channel

Did you know your router operates on a channel? Most routers choose one by default, but don’t always pick the least-traveled. The less traffic on the channel, the better your router performance. American routers work on channels 1, 6 and 11 at the 2.4GHz band.

Try this: Use the free tool inSSIDer. It’ll show you how many routers around you share your channel. Check your router’s manual to see how to change channels.

3.     Add an access point

It’s a big job to broadcast Wi-Fi in a big house. An access point transmits the signal your router broadcasts. Connect your primary router to an access-point router by Ethernet cable. You might need more than one access point if there is any interference in the house.

Try this: Upgrade antennas on your router and/access points. Some are bigger or come in different shapes to best capture and broadcast the signal.

4.     Extend it

These devices plug into a wall socket. They’re sometimes called repeaters.

Install them in a a socket as far from your router as possible, but where you still get a decent signal. It will retransmit the signal from there. They cost more than a replacement antenna, but have better results.

Try this: A HomePlug also does the trick, sometimes. It transmits your network data over electrical wires. The trick is to find the optimal spot for installation. They’re sensitive to obstructions.

Some of these options cost a bit, but nothing compared to the cost of a new router. They’ll add a noticeable boost to your network performance.