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Boost Your Wireless Connection

Friday, August 17th, 2007 by | Filed Under: System Tune-Up Help
 
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Q:
On my laptop, I use a wireless router for my high-speed Internet connection and I connect it through a WiFi signal. Most of the time, the signal is rather strong, but other times, there’s hardly anything there at all. Do you have any tips on how I can boost my WiFi signal? Please help!

A:
That’s an excellent question! Plus, I’m willing to bet that you’re not the only one who is having this same exact problem. I just love it when we get to help more than one person with the Q&A tip! Okay, so here’s the basics one more time, just in case you’re lost. This tip is going to help anyone who happens to have a computer (probably a laptop) that connects to the Internet via a wireless router with a WiFi signal. Along with that, while your signal sometimes connects with a decent strength, the rest of the time, it’s weak. So, what can you do to boost it up a little? Well, let’s check out some of your options!

For starters, I’m guessing this problem only happens when you’re trying to use your laptop outside of your normal computer room (or wherever your wireless box sits), am I right? When you’re right next to your wireless hookup, I’m sure your signal is very strong, but once you move away from it, that just may not be the case anymore. When that happens, you’ve probably noticed a message on your computer that says something like, “weak signal strength.” When that happens, everything will start to slow down and you’ll lose all the perks of having high-speed Internet. So, what’s the point, right?

Yes, high-speed Internet is great to have, but when you throw intrusions into the mix, it’s going to seem like you’re back to using dial-up (or maybe even worse!) One of those factors is distance. Depending on the type of wireless router you have, a standard version (2.4 GHz) will cover up to 250 feet. If you’re not sure what kind you have, check with your user manual or contact the manufacturer to find out how much distance you should account for.

So, once you’ve figured out how much distance you’re allowed, try to move to that exact length. If you’re still getting a weak signal after you do that, here are some other things you can try. First, make sure your router isn’t being blocked by other obstacles. For example, cabinets, metal, glass and thick walls can all inhibit a wireless signal. Next, make sure your router is away from any other types of wireless electronics, such as wireless phones, blue tooth devices, baby monitors, etc. The best place to put a router is either in the center of your house or up high on a shelf. That way, the signal will not have to fight with any interferences.

If you’ve tried all of that and you’re still receiving a weak signal, you may need to try a more powerful antenna or a range expander. Those two items should help in strengthening your wireless signal. You can find these types of things at regular computer stores, online or you might want to check with the manufacturer of your router. They may have the perfect fit for the exact router you have.

Another thing you can try is changing your router’s channel. This is a technique that has to be done with various wireless devices (keyboards and mice, for example), so it’s a common thing with routers. Now, most routers are set to channel 6, but you may need to move yours up or down. Also, if other houses in your neighborhood are using routers that are set to that same channel, that could be what’s affecting yours. Sometimes the same wireless channels degrade each other, so look through your user manual to find instructions on how to change your router’s channel. They’re all different, so I can’t really give you detailed directions on how to do that, but your user guide will help you.

Now, if you’ve tried all of that and you’re still having trouble, you might need to simply update your router with the latest drivers. It’s very important to keep up to date with the drivers and all of the firmware your router needs. Otherwise, the old material is going to slow your signal way down. You should be able to look on the manufacturer’s Web site to get those updates as well, which is very helpful. You should also do regular checkups on the computer you’re using wirelessly. You need to run your scans to check for viruses, spyware, etc., which is just regular computer maintenance!

Finally, if you’re still not happy with what you’re getting from your wireless router, you may want to consider an upgrade. Maybe you’ve just had your router for too long and it’s time for a new one. The wireless world is changing everyday and the speeds are getting faster and faster, so maybe you’d be more content with something a little more new. The most current wireless standard is Wireless-G, so you might want to look into that. Other than that, I’m out of suggestions for you. It’s either a matter of your signal really being too weak or you’re just not happy with the speed you’re getting. Either way, there’s something you can do about it, so check into your options today and be happy again!

~ Erin

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