How Do I Optimize My Wireless LAN (WLAN)?
These days it's hard to imagine life without wireless networks. Wireless LANs make it possible to be more productive and accessible than ever before, and yet there are few things as frustrating as a sluggish wireless network that you just can't seem to get up to proper speed. If you're running into wireless LAN connectivity or performance problems, we can help you diagnose the issues in order to ensure your WLAN operates at optimal speed. Let's take a look at some of the most common issues that can degrade wireless network performance.
Minimize WLAN Interference
A wireless network operates best when your wireless routers or access points are located in areas with minimal potential for interference, ideally in central locations with clear sight lines to the computers or network resources that will be connecting to the WLAN. Setting them up in areas that are elevated and unobstructed – that is, off the floor and away from walls and metal objects such as metal file cabinets – will further help minimize the potential for interference.
Radio frequency (RF) interference can also significantly impact your wireless network's speed. Wireless networks that operate in the 2.4 GHz frequency band (802.11b and 802.11g) will be working in the same frequency range as cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, wireless video cameras, microwave ovens and baby monitors, all of which can cause significant interference with your wireless network and degraded performance as a result. Wireless LANs that operate in the 5 GHz frequency band (802.11a and 802.11n, which utilizes both the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz frequencies) may find RF interference in the form of newer cordless phones and other devices.
Optimal Wireless Technology
There are four main wireless technology standards used today, each of which offers varying maximum speeds, signal strengths (in terms of maximum distance), potential for interference, and of course, cost. Of the standards, the most recent, 802.11n, offers the greatest potential speed and maximum distance, but also one of the highest costs. If your budget supports it, ensuring all of your wireless routers, access points and network adapters are 802.11n-compliant will provide the best possible performance for your WLAN.
Additionally, you'll often benefit from better performance when using routers and network adapters that are from the same vendor. While this isn't always feasible with larger wireless networks, if you can transition your wireless equipment to 802.11n-capable devices from the same vendor, you'll improve your chances for optimal WLAN performance.
WLAN Performance Considerations
Due to attenuation, or signal loss over time and distance, computers and other resources located farther away from the main access point for your wireless LAN may suffer from poor performance as well as wireless connectivity issues. These issues can be minimized by following the recommendations previously mentioned, but if this doesn't help, another option is to add a wireless repeater, which strengthens the wireless signal and can provide better performance to areas located farther away from the central access point.
Additional suggestions for improved WLAN performance include changing the channel your wireless router is broadcast on due to potential interference with other wireless networks, updating your wireless network drivers for individual computers that are having performance problems, and updating and/or upgrading your wireless router if your entire network is suffering from speed problems.
Ensuring your wireless network operates at its optimal speed involves minimizing potential interference, deploying routers and network adaptors that are 802.11n-compliant (and ideally from the same vendor), and utilizing wireless repeaters where needed.
Congratulations! You now have a better understanding of the key factors that contribute to your wireless LAN's performance as well as how to ensure your WLAN operates at optimal speed.
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