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How To Make My Home Wifi Faster
Hailing from Troy, Ohio, Rai Crist is a text adventure connoisseur, a horror movie buff, and an enthusiastic but mediocre chef. Publisher since 2013. Rai focuses on smart home technology, lighting, home appliances and home networking.
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There’s never been a better time to make sure you’re getting the best Wi-Fi speed at home.
This article is part of Home Tips, a collection of practical advice on how to get the most out of your home, both inside and out.
The pandemic has drastically changed our working habits. Working from home and spending more time online has become the norm; in turn, this led to the need for a fast and reliable Wi-Fi connection. Even now, two years later, our home Internet connections are more important than ever.
In fact, a June survey by McKinsey found that 58% of Americans are able to work from home at least one day a week. With important team meetings and presentations taking place remotely, the last thing anyone wants to deal with is an unstable network and poor Wi-Fi signal.
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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 a few simple steps you can take to ensure you’re getting the best speed possible. Let’s go over them and see if we can speed up the process for you. (To improve your Internet experience, check out our recommendations for the best ISPs, routers, mesh routers, and Wi-Fi extenders you can buy.)
If you’re going to make changes to your home network, you need to do so from an informed standpoint. The best way to do this is to run a few speed tests to get an idea of the weak links in your Wi-Fi connection, and there are many free services online to help you do this.
Among your options, Ookla Speedtest is the most used and I would recommend starting there. It has many servers around the world, allowing you to choose from several nearby options to measure your connection speed. And like most speed tests, it’s also very easy to use: just hit the big “Go” button and wait about a minute.
Ookla’s speed test is free and provides a detailed overview of the download and upload speed of any device you run it on, as well as latency. This is a good way to get an idea of where your connection is in different parts of your home.
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From there, you’ll see the current upload and download speeds for whatever device you’re running the speed test on, as well as ping, which is a latency measure that shows how long it takes data to travel one way and back to anything. the server you are testing with.
Start by focusing on download and upload speed. Do a couple of tests at a time in different places around the house where you’ll be working and test on average to see how your speed is holding up. If you’re seeing speeds in a room that are less than half of what you’re seeing when connecting close, this could be a place where you could improve things.
As for latency, you don’t have to worry too much if you don’t have many devices running on your network, or if you share bandwidth with family members or roommates. In that case, do some testing while your roommate is on FaceTime or while your kids are playing Fortnite; this will give you a good idea of how their activity may be affecting your own speed. If that ping number seems to be fluctuating, there are a few basic steps you can take, but the best thing you can do is separate that side traffic from your own. More on that a bit later.
If you can work very close to your router, a wired Ethernet connection to your computer is the best way to get the best speed. But if that’s not an option, you might have to work in a room where the Wi-Fi signal isn’t as strong as you need it to be. This happens when you are too far from the router or because there are too many walls or obstacles separating you.
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A simple and inexpensive plug-in range extender like this one from TP-Link may be all you need to improve signal quality in your office. Ray Christ/
Before you buy anything, the first thing you’ll want to try is repositioning your router to make your connection stronger. For best results, keep it outdoors, ideally as high as possible. If you can change the position of the antennas, try experimenting with that as well. To increase the speed, it is enough to move them at different angles. If the router is on the bottom and you’re trying to boost the signal on the top, try moving one or more of the antennas to a horizontal position. These antennas tend to transmit the Wi-Fi signal at a perpendicular angle, so a horizontal antenna will emit a vertically oriented signal that is more likely to hit the top.
There is one more thing to check before buying anything and that is your router channel. The 2.4 and 5 GHz frequency bands that your router uses to send its signals are divided into several channels, just like the TV channels you might receive with an antenna. Your router uses one channel at a time, and if you’re using the same channel as your neighbor, for example, this interference can slow down your connection.
To change this channel, go to your computer’s router settings. The best options are channels 1, 6, and 11, which do not overlap with each other, but your router may also have an “auto” setting that can determine the best channel for your situation.
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If none of that works, it might be time to upgrade your hardware. Pluggable range extenders are an option, and you have many 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 have to be fast, most aren’t, but as long as it can handle speeds above 50Mbps or so, you should be able to surf the internet like you normally would, including video calling.
This is the standard I used when I recently tested a few plug-in range extenders in my home and a much larger smart home where speeds are limited to 150Mbps. With only one router providing connectivity, speeds in remote rooms fell well below the 50Mbps threshold, but with a good range extender to improve connectivity, average speeds throughout the home improved significantly.
The TP-Link RE605X performed best with sustained download speeds of at least 130Mbps on Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 client devices throughout the location. Available now for $100 at Target, this is my top recommendation in this category. For something even cheaper, consider the TP-Link RE220. It doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6, but it worked well in my small home tests and is usually available for less than $30.
Another option is to completely upgrade your router. If you’re interested in range, you’ll want to move multipoint mesh routers that include range-extending satellite devices to the top of the list. Again, you have plenty of options to choose from and we’ve tested and reviewed several of the newest systems on the market. Of these, my favorite is the $233 TP-Link Deco W7200, but similar systems from Asus, Eero, Netgear, and Nest are also worth considering.
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Don’t need a mesh router and just want something fast, simple and affordable? The Asus RT-AX86U is a solid upgrade at $250, and for more value, you might want to consider the TP-Link Archer AX21, which costs less than $100. Both support Wi-Fi 6 and worked well in my home tests.
So back to the scenario where your kids come home from school, stream Disney Plus and play Fortnite while you try to work. There are a few things you can do to prevent their internet traffic from affecting yours.
The first and easiest is to make sure you are using different frequency bands. Most routers operate on the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, and many split these bands into two separate networks that you can connect to. 5 GHz band is faster and 2.4 GHz band is better.
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