10 Ways To Improve The Speed Of Your Current Router
While plugging in always delivers the most consistent speeds, there is still no match for wireless networking as far as convenience is concerned. Yes, convenience is key. Why else does technology develop?
Even though wireless connections is more convenient, it can be affected by signal degradation, dead zones, and moderate to severe speed loss between the router and your device. It is not ideal, but it is convenient.
Here are a few simple router tweaks that could make a world of difference on your home WI-FI network, helping to reduce downtime.
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1. Automate a Reboot Schedule
If you’ve ever run into a dead internet connection for no apparent reason, I’m sure you’ve discovered that rebooting your router is often all it takes to get back up and running. When you call your tech guy for your router manufacturer, it is often the first thing he will have to do.
If you find yourself rebooting the router with any regularity, the DD-WRT and Tomato firmware options both have timed reboot options. Setting it to reboot once a day while you’re sleeping helps you not to notice the downtime while it reboots.
2. Disable Older Wireless Protocols
Newer routers on the 802.11ac protocol offer capabilities far exceeding many ISPs service offerings. While the router might be fast, many of your devices are probably using older protocols- such as 802.11g. Using these older protocols slows down the entire network as soon as the device connects. To fix the problem, you’ll log in to your router and change the 802.11 modes to only allow newer protocols.
The fastest protocols, from the fastest to slowest, are:
So try to remove any device using the ‘b’ or ‘g’ protocol.
3. Change the Channel Width
Routers typically come with two-channel width settings, 20MHz, and 40MHz, the latter being primarily for newer routers which require wider wireless channels. This, however, has negative effects for devices on older protocols as it often leads to interference due to the wider channel setting. This adjustment won’t change how fast you’re capable of browsing the web, but it will increase the speed of streaming or the transferring files between machines on your network.
4. Get a better Antenna
The antenna (or antennas) on most consumer grade routers is flat out awful. An amplified aftermarket antenna is much better and it is a simple way to improve signal quality without the need for a new router.
Plug-in range extenders are more expensive but they do a great job, acting as a powered antenna and wireless repeater in one. They help solve the issues with dead zones or signal degradation, significantly.
5. Keeping your Router Updated
Much like every other electronic device, routers are subject to regular firmware updates by the manufacturer. These updates are often security fixes and won’t have much impact on speed, but they still help in various ways.
6. Experiment with Location
The location of your router is paramount. Since the router competes with every other 2.4GHz and/or 5GHz device in your area, it can easily be affected by subtle movements. Additionally, the structure and building material of your house might interfere with the wireless signal, especially when they are made of materials which make it hard for wireless signals to pass through.
The best plan of attack is typically creating a heat map of your home to help you discover both dead zones and areas of above average signal degradation. Once you create the heat map, move your router around to different areas of your home in order to see if it improves the signal to your dead areas. This is a lengthy process, but, you will notice a significant improvement in your signal once you know the best location within your home, to place your router.
7. Change the Channel
As a Mac user, I enjoy the semi-hidden functionality of being able to scan the airwaves for the channel that offers the latest interferences. Basically, you have to:
– Option-click on the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar.
– Select open wireless diagnostics…
– Ignore the popup and instead click on the window link in the menu bar.
– Select scan.
– Press the scan now button.
If you are a windows user, you won’t have this functionality built-in, but there are some great options to download, which includes Acrylic Wi-Fi.
From there, you can simply log in to your router and change the recommended channel. This typically leads to improved speeds if the interference is the main issue.
8. Switch to a Different Band
Our homes often are loaded with wireless devices. These devices all compete for space in a limited frequency range on your network. Luckily, with a dual- or tri-band router, you will have the capability of separating them in order to maximize speeds.
Essentially what you are doing here is opening up another lane for network traffic. While a one-lane road will ultimately get you there, two or three is better for everyone involved.
Instead of all your devices competing for space in the 2.4GHz band, you could assign some to the additional 5GHz band. This band is also most of the time less crowded. If you have a tri-band router, you may assign network traffic to a 2.4GHz band and two 5GHz bands. Moving forward, you can pick and choose the least crowded band or segment for your devices on to separate bands for increased network efficiency down the road.
9. Lock Down Your Router from Thieves and Hackers
An unfortunately high number of otherwise tech-savvy people still use the default username and password on their router. Intermediate hackers are capable of hacking even relatively secure networks with non-default passwords. If you are still using the defaults, you are just inviting hackers to your network to use it however they like.
The Wi-Fi password is equally important. While you might do a great job of splitting your devices up into separate bands, updating your firmware, and switching channels during high traffic periods, is all an exercise in vain if you have neighbors being all parasitic on your Wi-Fi all day.
Apart from a strong password, encryption is just as important. Always avoid WEP, and instead, opt for the stronger WPA2 setting with AES encryption when locking down your router.
10. Install New Firmware
Many routers keep the settings relatively dummy-proof so that you don’t screw anything up. While this is great for most users, sometimes, you just want to dive in and hack the settings until you are running a router that far exceeds its price tag which is a great move.
There are several open source firmware options for some of the most popular routers. While not every router is supported, there is no shortage of great options, and yours could be on the list of those that will support these new firmware options.
Some of the most popular are DD-WRT, OpenWRT, and Tomato. Each of these has their pros and cons but all of them are probably light years ahead of the firmware you are currently running.
We hope this was very useful for you. Do not suffer from slow internet connections anymore, try these tips and enjoy fast internet connections at the comfort of your home.