If you’ve been having trouble with your wireless network, today you’ll learn how to take control and extend its coverage. Whether you’re trying to stream video, audio, or just read text, a stable connection is always better than a flaky one. These tips are really easy to do, and use cheap or free tools.
1) Move your router to the center of your home or closest to where the most of the computers are going to be used. This is good because the signal can be radiated evenly throughout your home and eliminate dead zones that would be created if it was shoved in a random corner at a far end of your home.
2) Make a parabolic windsurfer antenna. Click here to download the template, and print out a copy of the antenna template for as many antennas are on your access point. You’ll need some scissors and some tape or glue to assemble them, and once you’re done, simply push the antennas into the center markings.
I setup my laptop in the furthest place from the access point and since my network is in my home office, I used VNC to monitor a wifi analyser on my laptop and saw around a 9 to 10 db increase in signal strength. That’s pretty good for a few cents in supplies.
3) Use a wifi analyser such as inSSIDer to see which channels are free from other neighboring access points to reduce interference on your network so you can provide a cleaner signal to your client machines.
4) Avoid repeaters. They suck! All of them! These repeaters just connect to your existing network and broadcast a ΓÇ£repeatedΓÇ¥ network on the same channel. Not only does this increase noise on the spectrum, but the speed is garbage. In a normal setup you send a request to a router and get back a reply, but when you introduce a repeater you have to send a request to the repeater that gets forwarded to the router, and then the router has to send back a reply to the repeater and then back to you. By the end of that mess, you’ve cut your speed in half so there’s no point in using a repeater. Oh and one last thingΓÇª There’s no easy way to automatically switch to the repeater because they can’t use the same SSID since they’re on the same channel.
One good way to repeat a signal is using two wired access points. One on channel 1 and the other on channel 11; these two channels don’t overlap so there isn’t any interference. You can set both APs to the same SSID and the computers in your home will automatically connect to the one with a higher signal strength. Again, these have to both be wired into a switch as they aren’t repeaters.
5) Upgrade your equipment! If you have a router that has internal antennas, chuck it. The internal antennas are low gain, and have a really hard time radiating signals through walls. You should opt for an access point that has external removable antennas that you can upgrade eventually to higher gain ones if you see fit. If you’re still running a wireless G network, it’s about time you upgrade to Wireless N or if you want the bleeding edge, there are a few AC draft routers available on the market.
Bonus tip: If you can, a wired ethernet connection is always better than wireless since you have a direct link without any obstructions to the internet.