There are many number of fancy-ass hacks out there to help your wireless router live its best life – see this list here, for example – but right now we want to focus on the low-hanging fruit: what are the simple things you can do when setting up and using your router to maximize its performance?
If your home internet access is slow or intermittent, it could well be due to interference.
There are three main things that cause interference:
- Physical surfaces. Think floors and walls. The most obvious thing to remember when setting up your router is to place it as close as possible to where most of your devices will be used – whether that’s your living room or home office – so that there are as few walls and floors in the way as possible. Also consider the kind of materials between your router and your devices: wood and glass don’t present much of a problem – so windows and decks won’t get in your way – but concrete, metal and bricks do. (If it’s bad news for the Big Bad Wolf, it’s bad news for your Wi-Fi signal.) If your router has an adjustable antenna, you should also point it to aim the signal.
- Other Wi-Fi networks. There are only so many Wi-Fi channels available (11 in North America, 13 in most other countries) and they can be choked by multiple networks all trying to use the same channel at once – which is going to happen a lot if you’re in a densely populated area. Particularly if you live in an apartment block, look for a router that can automatically find the least crowded Wi-Fi channel.
- Other electronic devices. Some devices, like cordless phones and baby monitors, use the same 2.4Ghz and 5GHz frequencies to communicate what your router does. Others, like microwave ovens, generate radio frequency noise as a by-product. But anything that generates an electromagnetic field can mess with the signal from your router: think TVs, dishwashers and even Christmas lights. Avoid placing your router near to, or on top of, other electronics like your games console or TV. If you’re experiencing interference, temporarily switch off your other electronics if you can.