WiFi can be both a blessing and a curse. The move away from Ethernet cables has allowed computers and devices to connect to the internet without the need for troublesome cables, but sometimes the WiFi seems to have a mind of its own. Symptoms of this include a weak connection despite being close to the router, having a weak signal even though people right next to you have a strong one, or strong signals with frequent ‘drops’ in the Internet connection.
In this series, ‘WiFi Woes’, we’ll take a look at three elements that might be inhibiting your connection: Positioning, Adapters, and Routers. All three of them can play a part when it comes to a troublesome signal, and it can take a while to figure out which one is the problem. Today, we’ll be looking at the positioning of both the device and the router.
It may seem strange that the position of our router or device effects the signal, but it’s true! In order to establish a strong connection between one another, both your device and your router have to be able to send signals to one another. If something is in-between the ‘path’ of the WiFi signal, it can cause big issues for your connection. This is especially noticeable if the device (or everyone else’s devices) has perfect connections in other rooms, but not where you want to use it. So, what can you do?
First, make sure the router is in a position where the signal has to travel through the least amount of walls or floors possible. Every wall between yourself and the router will cause a drop in signal; too many, and the signal will be very weak by the time it gets to you. This is especially true if the walls are particularly old and very thick — they’re basically WiFi blockades at that point. See if you can move the router closer to your device (without annoying anyone else using the router!)
Also look out for common household objects that might interfere with signals. This includes objects with metal in them (televisions, microwaves), windows (where the signal can ‘escape’), mirrors, and even fish tanks. Try to get as much ‘air’ between yourself and the router as possible and minimize the amount of stuff it needs to pass through to get to you.
Routers send WiFi signals in all directions; that includes downwards. If your router is sitting pretty on the floor, it’ll be directing a lot of its signal into the floor; probably good for any passing mice with laptops, but no good for you! If you’re upstairs and the router is on the ground floor, try putting it on a table or shelf to help it spread the signal as far upward as possible.
If you’re finding your router’s signal can’t even make it past the room it’s in, then perhaps positioning isn’t the issue. Next time, we’ll look at how the adapter your computer uses can cause issues, and how to fix them.