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How To Make Your Home Wifi Faster
Originally from Troy, Ohio, Rye Crist is a connoisseur of text-based adventures, a fan of horror movies, and an ambitious but mediocre cook. An editor since 2013, Ry’s beats include smart home technology, lighting, appliances and home networks.
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There’s never been a better time to make sure you’re getting the best Wi-Fi speeds available at home.
This story is part of Home Tips, a collection of practical tips for getting the most out of your home inside and out.
The pandemic has dramatically changed our work habits. Working at home and spending more time online has become the norm; In turn, this was a requirement for fast, reliable Wi-Fi. Even two years later, our home internet connections are more important than ever.
In fact, a McKinsey survey in June found that 58% of Americans have the opportunity to work from home at least one day a week. With important team meetings and presentations taking place remotely, the last thing someone wants to deal with is a spotty network and a lost Wi-Fi signal.
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Fortunately, you have options. Even if you don’t know much about your router’s settings or the best way to change them, there are some easy steps you can take to ensure your speed is as fast as possible. Let’s go through those and see if we can speed things up for you. (Check out our recommendations on the best ISPs, routers, mesh routers, and Wi-Fi extenders you can buy for better internet.)
If you’re going to make changes to your home network, you’ll want to do it from an informed place. The best way to get there is to run a few speed tests to get a good idea of weak connections on your Wi-Fi – there are many free services to help you do this.
Among your options, Ookla Speedtest is the most widely used and I recommend starting with that. It has a wide variety of servers around the world that lets you choose from several nearby options to measure your connection speed. And like most speed tests, it’s pretty easy to use — just click the big “Go” button and wait a minute or so.
Ookla Speed Test is free to use and gives you a detailed look at upload and download speeds as well as latency on any device you run it on. It’s a great way to understand where your connection is at various points in your home.
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From there, you get the current upload and download speeds and ping, a measure of latency that shows how long it takes for data to travel back and forth for any device you’re running the speed test for. The server you control.
Start by focusing on download and upload speeds. Run several tests at the same time in different parts of your home where you work and add up the average to get an idea of how your speed is improving. If you’re seeing speed in a room less than half what you see when connected at close range, that’s probably a place where you can improve things.
As for latency, if you don’t have many devices running on your network or you don’t share bandwidth with family members or roommates, you shouldn’t worry too much about it. In that case, do some testing while your roommate is on a FaceTime call or your kids are playing Fortnite – this will give you a good idea of how their activities affect your speed. If that ping number seems to be bouncing around, there are some basic steps you can take, but the best thing you can do is get traffic on that side out of your way. More on that in a moment.
If you can work close to your router, a wired Ethernet connection to your computer is the best way to ensure you get the fastest speeds. But if that’s not an option, you may need to work in a room where the Wi-Fi signal isn’t as strong as you’d like. It happens when you are too far from the router or because there are many walls or obstacles separating you from it.
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A simple, inexpensive add-on range extender like this one from TP-Link might be just what you need to boost your home office signal. rye messiah
The first thing you want to do before buying anything is to relocate your router to strengthen the connection. For best results, you’ll want to keep it open as high as possible. If you can relocate the antennas, try that too. Confusing them at different angles may require you to increase your speed. If the router is downstairs and you are trying to boost the signal above, try placing one or more antennas in a horizontal position. Such antennas tend to radiate Wi-Fi signals at a right angle, so a horizontal antenna will emit a vertically oriented signal, which will likely bring it upstairs.
There’s one last thing you should check before you buy anything, and that’s your router’s channel. The 2.4 and 5 GHz frequency bands that your router uses to send its signal are divided into channels, much like the TV channels you can get from an antenna. Your router uses only one channel at a time and this interference can slow down your connection if you are using the same channel as your neighbor.
To change this channel, go to your router’s settings on your computer. The best options are non-overlapping channels 1, 6 and 11, 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 this works, it may be time for a hardware upgrade. While add-on range extenders are an option, there are plenty of options that won’t cost you too much. Your best bet is to choose one made by the same company that made your router. It doesn’t have to be very fast – most are not – but as long as you can keep your speed at 50Mbps or above, you should be able to use the web normally, including video calls.
That’s the standard I used when I tested a handful of add-on range extenders recently in my own home and larger Smart Home capped at 150Mbps. With a single router running the link, speeds in remote rooms dropped well below the 50Mbps mark – but with a good range extender boosting the link, average speeds at home improved significantly.
The best performer was the TP-Link RE605X with at least 130 Mbps sustained download speed for venue-wide Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 client devices. It’s currently on sale for $100 at Target, 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 testing and is usually available for less than $30.
Another option is to completely update your router. If range is your concern, you’ll want to be at the top of your list of multipoint routers that come with satellite devices that extend the range. Again, you have many options to choose from — we’ve tested and reviewed some of the latest systems to come to market. Of these, I like the $233 TP-Link Deco W7200 the most, but similar systems from Asus, Eero, Netgear, and Nest are also worth checking out.
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Don’t need a mesh router and want something fast, easy and affordable? The Asus RT-AX86U is a solid $250 upgrade, and for another bargain, consider the TP-Link Archer AX21, which costs less than $100. Both support Wi-Fi 6 and perform well in my home tests.
So let’s go back to that time when your kids were home from school, streaming Disney Plus and playing Fortnite while you were working. There are a few things you can do to prevent internet traffic from affecting you.
The first and easiest thing is to make sure you are using different frequency bands. Most routers run both the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, and many split these bands into two separate networks you can connect to. The 5GHz band is faster and the 2.4GHz band is better
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