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Tips to Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal

It's not just your lawnmower and household tools that your neighbor won't return. Our top picks include everything from updating device firmware to reducing interference and password protecting your wireless network.

Wi-Fi Signal Boost
Want to know how to boost your Wi-Fi signal? We picked 11 of our favorite tips to improve Wi-Fi performance for you to try. Our top picks include everything from updating device firmware to reducing interference and making sure neighbors don't "inadvertently" steal your bandwidth.

Recommended Webopedia Definitions: Wi-Fi, wireless, router, access point, firmware, bandwidth, SSID.

Wi-Fi Boost Checklist

  • Update router firmware
  • Update network adapter
  • Choose a good location for the router
  • Replace the original antenna
  • Try a high-gain antenna
  • Use a second router as an access point
  • Use a Wi-Fi booster
  • Remove signal obstructions
  • Change the Wi-Fi channel
  • Use inSIDDer
  • Stop neighbors from stealing your bandwidth

1. Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal With Updated Router Firmware

Updating router firmware -- something many of us forget to do -- is an important first step to boosting your wireless signal. Keep your firmware up-to-date to ensure optimal device security and performance. If you're not sure how to update your router firmware, this PC Magazine offers sound advice on how to find and download updates for consumer wireless routers.

2. Update Your Network Adapter for Best Wi-Fi Performance

It takes two to tango, so updating the firmware on your PC or laptop is another good way to improve your wireless connection. Your router could be blasting out high-quality, light-speed Wi-Fi but if your device is operating with outdated firmware, well… it's the equivalent of drinking the Atlantic Ocean through a straw.

3. Find the Best Place for Your Wi-Fi Router

Realtors often cite "location, location, location" when extolling the virtues of a home. The same is true for Wi-Fi routers. Network performance is affected by distance, so place your router in a central location. Wi-Fi doesn't travel well through walls or floors constructed of dense material like brick or marble, so avoid putting your router in a nuclear bunker or at the bottom of a well.

4. Replace the Antenna to Boost Wi-Fi Signal

Many auto racers replace the original engine in their car with a more powerful one in order to increase performance. Replacing your router's built in antenna with a stronger, omnidirectional antenna will help boost your Wi-Fi signal.

Webopedia Stuydy Guide Section DID YOU KNOW...? A common misconception is that the term Wi-Fi is short for "wireless fidelity," however this is not the case. Wi-Fi is simply a trademarked phrase that means IEEE 802.11x.

5. Consider a High-Gain Antenna

In this instance, high-gain has nothing to do with the weight one puts on after mowing through three cheeseburgers and a jumbo pizza. High-gain antennas can be a costly solution but are a great way to boost your Wi-Fi signal if one's existing router supports the addition of an external antenna.

6. Use a Second Router as an Access Point to Boost Wi-Fi

Just like using an extension cord to bring electricity closer to when you need it, using a second router as an access point can boost your Wi-Fi signal quite nicely. To help make configuration of this option less troublesome, try employing an access point from the same manufacturer as your router. PC Mag offers some great tips.

7. Try a Wi-Fi Booster (Extender)

Repeaters and extenders can help broaden the range of your existing Wi-Fi. The concept of these two solutions is the same but with an extender you will likely need a different SSID requiring its own login. Third party testing has revealed which ones do the best job of covering dead zones. Need a little more help? Try Webopedia's SSID definition to get started.

8. Remove Obstructions to Improve Wi-Fi Signal Strength

Just as one removes their sibling from their line of sight when trying to finish the last mission in Grand Theft Auto V on Xbox, it's a good idea to get rid of any obstructions which may be blocking your wi-fi signal. Placing your router in an elevated location helps too.

9. Choose the Right Wi-Fi Channel

Breaker-breaker: get off this channel. Though most users don't change the channel on which their router is broadcasting Wi-Fi, it is possible to choose a different channel. For maximum throughput and minimum interference, independent research has shown channels 1, 6, and 11 to be the best choices. 

10. Use  inSSIDer to Maximize Your Wireless

Third-party services such as inSIDDer allows a user to visualize their wireless environment in order to adjust one’s router settings for maximum performance. Diagnostic tools will help you determine if all your access points are visible, if you are on the right channels and evaluate your signal strength.

11. Stop Neighbors From Stealing Your Bandwidth

It's not just your lawnmower and household tools that your neighbor won't return. They could, inadvertently of course, be stealing your bandwidth. Employing complicated passwords, using creative network SSID names and enabling network encryption are good starting points when making sure your bandwidth is not enjoyed by the noisy neighbors across the hall.

This article was last updated on May 19, 2016

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