It is true that a direct
cabled connection is probably faster, but that doesn't mean you can't
get great Internet connection speeds from a WiFi connection. WiFi is a
signal, so it's simply a matter of boosting that signal to extend as far
as you need it to, and doing it in a way so you'll still get the same
amount of power. There are ways to extend your WiFi signal, and most of
them won't cost a penny. Here are my ten ways to boost your wifi
- Position The Router - Yes, where you place your router does
matter. If your wireless desktop or laptop is in another room, the
signal has to go through walls and other interference before it reaches
you. You can change the positioning and give everyone equal access.
For example, in an open office room setting, instead of placing the
router in a corner, try putting it in the middle of the room. It might
give better coverage to the entire office. The signal should extend out
more evenly. If you're looking for optimal wireless coverage in
various parts of your home, position the router in the middle of the
house. Moving it up off the floor, to a bookcase or shelf, should also
help. If you only have one wireless computer, and it's always in the
same place (ie: your office, the kitchen, or the hammock) then it makes
more sense to place the router closer to the computer, rather than in
the center of the house. But experiment -- I've heard of cases where
there was a very weak signal, and the problem was that the router was
TOO close to the computer.
- Avoid Bad Neighbors - Remember, wifi is a radio
signal, so the signals from microwave ovens, cordless phones and even
your neighbor's wireless router may interfere. So try to steer clear of
those as well.
- Extend the Antenna - There are some decent booster
antennas out there that you can purchase in addition to your current
router to help the signal extend out further. You just plug them
directly into the router base and it can give you that boost in the
signal that you need. Hawking
makes several types of wireless antenna boosters.
- Repeaters - This little gizmo just takes in the
wireless signal, boosts it up to full strength, and spits it back out
again. Place the repeater within range of the router, and near the
computer that needs a wireless signal. Linksys
offer wireless repeaters, also called range extenders. If you have an
Apple computer, look into the Airport Express as a
- Gettin' Geeky - Some DIY geeks have come up with
interesting ways to extend or boost your Wi Fi signal. One example is
the Pringle Cantenna
method. This may seem like a hoax, but the technique appeared in an
O'Reilly book titled Building Wireless Community Networks, Nov. 2001.
Other techniques, such as the satellite dish using a cellphone are elaborate hoaxes, and I'll admit I fell for this one
before a kind reader set me straight.
- Upgrade Your Router - If you've owned the same
router for several years, it might be good to go pick up a new one if
you want to expand your connection. Some of the latest models have a
stronger signal. The newer 802.11n routers generally have a stronger
broadcast signal, and they'll work even if you have an 802.11B or G
adapter in your computer.
- Upgrade Your Software - One of the most basic things
you can do is to make sure your router software is up to date. To do
this, visit the website of the maker of your router, whether it is
Linksys, D-Link, or some other brand. Check for your model number and
make any updates necessary.
- Tweak Your Settings - Your software has special
features that you may or may not want. Make sure you read the manual
that comes with your router and tweak it to fit your needs. Most modern
ones are "just plug it in" though there might be ways to boost signals
or to make sure it is sending out signals that are optimized for your
computer's wireless adapter. For example, most routers are set to
broadcast on channel 6. Try switching the channel to 1 or 11 and see if
it makes a difference.
- Is Your Wireless Router Secured? - Make sure your
neighbor isn't hogging all the juice from YOUR wireless router. Get
your network secured only you are using the signal. Tap into your
security features and make sure you use secure passwords. See wireless security for help with this.
- Find Alternative Firmware - While your router's
original software (aka firmware) should be all you need, some routers do
not output the signal at the maximum possible strength. You might want
to check into alternative firmware, like OpenWRT. But be careful with firmware
updates -- if you load the wrong code for your router, you can foul it
up with no recourse.