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How To Get Better Wifi Signal From Neighbor
Originally from Troy, Ohio, Rae Crist is a writer, text-based adventurer, lover of horror movies, and an avid but average cook. An editor since 2013, Ry’s hits include smart home technology, lighting, appliances, broadband, and home networking.
Where To Put Your Router For The Best Possible Home Wi Fi
Knowledge of smart home technology and wireless connectivity capabilities Over 10 years of product testing experience with the Home team
There’s never been a better time than now to make sure you’re getting the best Wi-Fi speeds at home.
This story is part of Home Tips, a collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
The pandemic changed the way we work. Logging in at home and spending more time online has become the norm. Then, fast, reliable Wi-Fi became a necessity rather than just a luxury. Three years later, our home Internet connections are as important as ever.
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In fact, a June study by McKinsey found that 58% of Americans still have the opportunity to work from home at least one day a week. With important team meetings and presentations happening remotely, no one wants to deal with a spotty network and Wi-Fi signal that’s not up to snuff.
Luckily, you have options. Even if you don’t know much about your router’s settings or the best way to change them, there are easy steps you can take to make sure your speeds are as fast as possible. Let us guide you and see if we can speed things up for you. (For better Internet, check out our recommendations on the best ISPs, mesh routers, and Wi-Fi extenders you can buy.)
If you’re going to be making changes to your home network, you’ll want to do so from an informed position. The best way to get there is to run some speed tests to locate any weak links in your Wi-Fi connection – and there are plenty of free services on the web that can help you do just that.
Among your options, Ookla Speedtest is the most widely used and I recommend starting with it. There are tons of servers around the world, so you can choose from several nearby options to gauge your connection speed. And, like most speed tests, it’s easy to use—just click the big “Go” button and wait about a minute.
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Ookla Speed Test is free to use, and it gives a detailed view of upload and download speeds no matter what device you’re running it on, as well as down times. It’s a great way to understand where your connection is in different places throughout your home.
From there, you can check the current upload and download speeds for whatever device you’re running the speed test on, as well as view the ping, which is a measure of how long latency is and what it’s capable of. Takes data to travel back and forth. Server you are testing from.
Start by focusing on download and upload speeds. Do a few tests at the same time in different places around your home where you work and park on average to see how your speeds hold up. If you’re seeing distances in a room that are less than half the distance you see when zooming in, that’s probably an area where you can improve things.
As for latency, you shouldn’t worry too much about it unless you have a lot of devices running on your network, or if you’re sharing bandwidth with family members or roommates. In that case, do some testing while your roommate is on a FaceTime call or while your kids are playing Fortnite – this will give you a good sense of how their activity might be affecting your speed. If that ping number appears to be jumping, there are basic steps you can take, but the best thing you can do is to isolate that side traffic from your side. More on that in a bit.
Wi Fi Management
If you can work close to your router, a wired Ethernet connection to your computer is the best way to ensure the fastest speeds. But if that’s not an option, you may have to work in a room where the Wi-Fi signal isn’t as strong as you’d like. This happens when you are too far away from the router, or because too many walls or obstacles separate you from it.
A simple, inexpensive plug-in range extender like this one from TP-Link may be all it takes to boost a better signal in your home office. Roy / Crist
Before you buy anything, the first thing you might want to try is resetting your router to strengthen the connection. For best results, you’ll want to place it outside—preferably as high as possible. If you can reset the antenna, try that as well. Stopping them at different angles may not be necessary to increase your speed. If the router is downstairs and you’re trying to boost the signal upstairs, try moving one or more of the antennas to a horizontal position. Such antennas send Wi-Fi signals at a right angle, so a horizontal antenna will send a signal that’s aimed straight up which may be more likely to create stairwells.
There is one last thing to check before buying anything, and that is the channel of your router. The 2.4 and 5GHz frequency bands that your routers use to send their signals are divided into a number of channels, just like TV channels, that you can pick up with an antenna. Your router uses one channel at a time, and if you’re using the same one as a neighbor, for example, this restriction can slow down your connection.
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To change that channel, go to your router’s settings on your computer. The best choices are channels 1, 6, and 11, which don’t overlap, but your router may have an “auto” setting that will identify the best channel for your situation.
If that doesn’t work, it may be time for a hardware upgrade. Extending plug-in range is one option, and you have plenty of options that don’t cost much. Your best bet is to choose one made by the same company that makes your router. It doesn’t need to be super fast—most aren’t—but as long as it can keep your speeds at or above 50Mbps, you should be able to use the net normally, including video calls.
That’s the rate I used when I recently tested a handful of plug-in range extenders at my home and in a much larger smart home, where speeds topped out at 150Mbps. With only one router running the connection, speeds in distant rooms drop well below the 50 Mbps mark – but by boosting the connection with a good range extender, average speeds across the house improve significantly.
The best performer was the TP-Link RE605X, which had stable download speeds of at least 130 Mbps for Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 client devices across the location. Available now for $100 at Target, it’s my top recommendation in the category. For something even cheaper, consider the TP-Link RE220. It doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6, but it performed well in my short home tests, and it’s usually available for less than $30.
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Another option is to completely upgrade your router. If range is your concern, you’ll want to move multipoint mesh routers to the top of your list that come with satellite range extender devices. Again, you have lots and lots of options to choose from – and we’ve tested and reviewed many of the latest systems to hit the market. Of those, I like the $233 TP-Link Deco W7200 best, but similar systems from Asus, Eero, Netgear, and Nest are also worth checking out.
Don’t need a mesh router, and just want something fast, easy, and affordable? The Asus RT-AX86U is a solid upgrade that costs $250, and for more of a bargain, you might consider the TP-Link Archer AX21, which costs less than $100. Both support Wi-Fi 6 and performed well in my tests at home.
So let’s go back to the situation where your kids are streaming Disney Plus from school and playing Fortnite while you’re trying to work. There are a few things you can do to protect their Internet traffic from being affected.
The first, and easiest, is to make sure you’re using different frequency bands. Most routers operate both 2.4
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