Top 10 Ways to Boost Your Home Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi range extender might be the perfect solution, but what if you don’t have the spare funds or the desire to get a new piece of technology to your place? RankTopTen has prepared a number of good solutions for you so you would never experience the lack of connection again. Once you try these, your home internet might surprise you. Pick your favorite method and leave a vote, taking it higher up the list, so that more people can trust it. If you know how to increase internet speed, post your comment and share the wisdom with us


Set Your Router to Reboot on a Schedule

"Turn an Old Router Into a Wi-Fi Repeater" is not a great solution because as mentioned the speed of the repeater wifi connection will be much slower than the main wifi connection. If you can hard-wire the second router to the first router, a better solution would be to use a second router and set the SSID to the same name as the main router's SSID and set the channel to a different channel than the main router's wifi channel. Your devices should automatically switch to whichever wifi connection has the strongest signal. I set my house up like this: My main router, Asus RT-N16, is running Tomato because the QoS, which I use extensively, is infinitely better than DD-WRTs QoS. I have a second, older router, Buffalo WHR-HP-G54, that's hard-wired to the first and on the opposite side of my house, running DD-WRT using the same SSID as the first, but a different channel. Works great! An added bonus of using DD-WRT on my second router is the ability to set up a second guest wifi connection that uses a different subnet so when guests are connected they can only use the internet and have no access to the network.

I can vouch for the TP-Link WPA4220KIT. My parents live in a long apartment and their router can only be at one end. We needed wireless coverage on the other side of the apartment as well and we used this powerline adapter to boost our Wi-Fi. Now this particular adapter is interesting because one end takes in an Ethernet cable and the other end clones the Wi-Fi network and broadcasts it as a router, so you don't have to resort to Ethernet or a get a second router for the other side. It was affordable and very very painless to set up too.

Any tricks to enhance my computer reception? I live on a building and we have a shared wi-fi and I would like to enhance my Mac's reception so it wouldn't be dropping all the time...


Find the Perfect Spot for Your Router

If it's just two floors I wouldn't say it matters a whole lot. Most hardware I've had will cross one floor easily. I've got three floors and so I get the best result having the router in the middle floor. I used a power-line Ethernet adapter to connect it to the modem in the basement. At 40 Dollars I'd say it's a much easier choice than retrofitting a house with ethernet cables. The dipole antennas on routers have a characteristic emission profile. Basically, when the stick is pointing "up" most of the signal is radiated sideways, and practically nothing goes upwards. So if you point the antenna horizontally you can increase the signal directly above the router, at the expense of the horizontal plane.

I actually ended up "fixing" my house by placing a second AP on the top shelf of a closet on the main floor. Once I got the main router sync'd, it worked like a charm, and all the devices happily switch to whichever signal is strongest. DD-WRT FTW!

If it will work at all, you'll need to put it on a middle floor, probably with the antennas horizontal. Most antennas are dipoles. They don't radiate in a sphere but more like a cylinder (so less towards the top and bottom of the antenna). If you get a "higher dB" antenna, this becomes even more pronounced (those extra dB have to come from somewhere - yep top and bottom of the sphere).


Find the Right Wireless Channel

100% agree with this comment. A friend of my family actually asked me to fix their wireless for them recently. I haven't checked it out yet but the way they described it to me, it sounded like they were using someone elses open wireless connection and they didn't understand that it was not theirs. I'm not certain, but from their explanation, it sounded like they had forgotten the password on their own wireless network, which happened to be named something similar to a neighbours open wireless network (like the default router SSID, like dlink or linksys). So they connected to it without problems. They said their wireless cuts in and out, which is most likely due to the fact that they're using someone else's wifi and it's a distance issue, but they had no idea of the concept of other houses/people having their own wireless connection that can be accessed if you're close enough to the source, nor did they have any idea that someone had originally set up their own wifi network with a password, nor did they remember what that password was. It's scary how people rely so much on these technologies but know so LITTLE about the basic concepts of them. I don't expect a novus to understand the difference between WEP/WPA/WPA2 or know what MAC address filtering is, or even understand how to log into and change settings on your router, but understand the concept of what wifi is, how it generally works (i.e. the further you are from the router, the worse the connection is), multiple people around you can have their own WiFi signals but they're connected to their own ISP and that you have to enter a password to connect if it's a secured wifi AP. I mean these are basic things that people just don't care to understand.

Little bit of advice for when you get them connected again. I would advise writing their SSID and password on something like white tape and putting it on the router. Some people will never remember otherwise (even then they forget).

Yeah I've had the same problem with some family members of mine. I wrote it down, they wrote it down, I even made a note in windows and left it on the desktop (not the secure thing to do but I was running out of options). They still couldn't remember and somehow keep losing the notes. I'm thinking of trying the tape idea, but put it somewhere they will definitely see it. Like on the monitor (not the screen but an empty area), or somewhere else they will have no choice but to see it. Considering how much trouble they have remembering it, they probably won't argue against it.


Get Rid of Interference from Other Appliances

I've given my daughter my old Powerbook G4 - and she loves it - and I don't want to buy a newer laptop. Problem is it will only connect to a 2.4 Ghz network and I would like to have my router only broadcast at 5Ghz. Is there any way to set up a dual band router as a repeater that will receive the 5Ghz signal and broadcast at 2.4Ghz? Or could I use ethernet to wire the repeater to the router and just have the repeater broadcast at 2.4Ghz (they can be close, our home isn't big enough to actually require a repeater)?

Why do you want a second router to broadcast 2.4 GHz? Why not let the router broadcast in 2.4 and 5GHz? I have 2 Airport Extremes both transmitting in 2.4 and 5GHz to cover my full home. 1

I'ts my understanding that the signal will drop to 2.4 Ghz whenever the MBP is attached to the network. Or does the Airport Extreme have two separate radios?


Thwart Wi-Fi Thieves with Better Security

As opposed to what? I can't think of a single technology that's widely available, easy to use, compatible with most wireless devices, and fast/reliable

I just came from the future and I was wondering the same thing. I can't believe we used to rely on WiFi back then. Also can't believe people used to use keyboards. Writing with the mind is so much easier.

Usually, you can find someone who has a 'crimping gun' and they can put a new connector on for you. It WILL shorten the length of your cable a little but not so much as to be noticeable in most cases. Really...... the wires shouldn't have come out of the plastic connection unless the cable was defective in some manner (poor crimping job comes to mind). How long was your cable? You can get a 20 foot cable online at Newegg for about 20 dollars if you buy a "Cables Unlimited" or equivalent brand. Never had a problem with those cables.


Control Bandwidth-Hogging Applications

The cable wasn't well looked after. The plastic hook that kept the cable in the laptop had long since broken and so it was being handled a lot more than it should have been and it eventually gave up on me. I don't think I have access to a crimping gun so I'll just have to look at replacing it. I'd probably need more than 20ft to be honest but not that much more. I've never known the exact length of my current cable as it was a gift from a friend who didn't need it any more, but it's about twice as long as I need it to be so, insanely long. Probably closer to 50ft I'd say.

You're responding to an article about speeding up WiFi. Clearly it isn't delivering on it's promises. I've never come close to getting near the advertised speed for these newer protocols and clearly I'm not the only one. Ethernet delivers and doesn't require any of this finagle.

I was obviously poking fun at the OP. Clearly there are usage cases for both technologies. But WiFi has come so far in recent years that the benefit of wired Ethernet is diminishing.


Increase Your Wi-Fi Range with DIY Tricks

The WiFi symbol isn't touching the "ground" and the light source is slightly to our right. Fixed it for you.

They are centered. The drop shadow on the object and not on its reflection cause a optical illusion to appear miss aligned.

Sorry to wake an old page. This account was inaccessible for a while. Anyway, getting to the point, I have found the problem. Both the speeds mentioned by me were in Megabits only. The difference is in protocols, I guess. When a file is transferred via HTTP (which is faster) using apps like ShareIt or Superbeam, the transfer occurs very fast (~6 MBps i.e. 48 Mbps). But when the same amount of data is transferred using an FTP or SMB client (i.e. with slower protocols), it can hardly reach 0.3MBps i.e. 2.4Mbps. Correct me if I am wrong about the protocols.


Boost Your Router’s Signal with a Bit of Hacking

Replace DD-WRT with OpenWRT is you've got the Linux-fu. OpenWRT will allow you to actually use the maximal Tx-power your router's wifi chip supports. I'm running my Buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH (damn what a name) at 501 mW and get great reception even at the end of our street.

Thwart of thieves...? If you have a router that comes equipped with WPS (which almost every newer router is), it doesn't matter if you have it enabled or disabled. It can still be cracked. Reaver the tool everyone uses to crack it, comes paired with another tool Wash. Wash will tell you all of the wireless access points in the range of you wireless card once put into monitor mode. It will also tell you if WPS is on/off. Wash will give the MAC and ssid of the AP and start your crack. I used it on my router, and it took 8 1/2 hours. When finished it gave me the password and the 8 digit pin that the AP uses to pair with another device. I changed the password disabled WPS and ran Reaver again with the —pin= option and had the new password in 4 seconds. My AP is protected with WPA2 and it doesn't mean anything once that pin is out and in the open. The only way to somewhat protect your home network is to not use wireless at all!

I've disabled WPS for several people, you should seriously consider finding out how to do this on your router.


Turn an Old Router Into a Wi-Fi Repeater

Depending on the router, it might be just fine. I've been using a WRT54G for awhile now because it's more reliable than others I've had. Slap on some DD-WRT, and you have one of the best routers you can get.

I have 2 WRT's on Tomato in my house since 2004, 2 in rootenna boxes on commercial property, about 10 others distributed to friends and family since around the same time. We were building a g based mesh network testbed back then (802.11A backhauls using soekris boards) and the hardware all still does the trick so I agree with you. For the most part I only use wifi for surfing when I'm not near a ethernet port and use wired for any transfers so upgrading isn't a smart financial decision in that case.

I've got DD-WRT on two 10 year old routers and they're running great. Best upgrade to my network. Its free and they have a version for any of those old stackable Linksys routers.


Use the Latest Wi-Fi Technologies

Router antennas (most of them) are most definitely omni-directional. It's a simple half-dipole as you see. Indeed tip #4 works specifically because you are taking some of the power radiated from one side of the antenna and reflecting it back, effectively creating a crude directional antenna (reception will be really poor on the other side of that beer can and better on the antenna side). Anyone who has studied radio theory knows that there is an (amazingly complicated) formula for power output-to-power received. One of the main variables in the equation is the height of the antenna (either antenna). The voice intercept system we used in Saudi/Iraq/Kuwait in the Gulf War was installed on a helicopter. Nothing like putting your receiving antenna several thousand feet in the air to improve reception! Put the router in the highest place in the house, but do not invert (won't hurt, just won't do anything) the antenna and definitely don't lay it flat (your WiFi devices are looking for a vertically polarized signal, laying it flat will change it to a horizontally polarized signal). It is possible, however, that there will be a dead spot directly underneath the router if it's on the floor above you.

You can get a better signal meter by using one of the tools mentioned in tip 8. I use inSSIDer ( which has a Mac and Windows version, but the two they listed are also good. You not only see the strength of your signal, but you see the strength of all of the other networks around. In my case, I saw that none of my neighbors are using the 5GHz band, so when I replaced my router, I got one that works up there and I've got clear signal while they all fight in 2.4GHz land.

Really, in a home with multiple stories, you should have a router on each floor. Router antennas (most of them) are not omni-directional, they send out signals forward from the router antenna and not backwards nor up and down. Now, for connecting the routers together, I would advise running a wired connection between the routers to get the best speeds possible.

Last Comments

You may possibly be able to use the concept of the reflector from tip #4, but it may not work. You may need to buy an external wireless adapter with a directional antenna or perhaps use tip #4 on the adapter.

My Linksys is probably close to 10 years old, so I am due for new, I'm sure. I am clueless with routers. Any suggestions on brands/models for a small budget? We have both Mac and Windows, but small 2bd apartment

Get yourself a good TP-Link (their default firmwares are very customisable) or an Apple AirPort Express (cheap and you can plug-in your living room stereo to it and stream your iTunes music over to it)

I second TimGray's recommendation of the Cisco EA4500 or the E4200. These are essentially the same hardware, and I personally own the E4200. It works beautifully for me in a 1200sqft 2bed/2bath apt. I've only had to reset it a handful of times within the past year, and I've got great signal throughout the whole apartment.

Sorry about that :/ Few years ago, I was very new to this. I had done this using Windows Explorer. Share some specific folders on a computer using the ‘Sharing’ tab in properties. Then copy some other files to that folder from another computer on the same network. This uses SMB protocol and the transfer speed is very low. But when the same files are transferred over HTTP protocol using apps like ShareIt or Superbeam, the transfer is at least 15 times fast for the same amount of data. I guess some protocols are faster whereas some are slower and it probably has nothing to do with the router. Then probably I have commented in the wrong place. Sorry again. :(

There are still some routers that don't have WPS. Also Reaver doesnt work on all routers that have WPS disabled. You need to try it out. Also I have seen a few routers that limit the number of WPS attempts.

In the lead picture, the reflection is not centered with the wifi symbol, it is slightly to the left. This is driving me crazy.

How can we increase speed of transfer of data within computers connected to a router? In the connection status dialog box it says connection speed is 54 mbps although file transfer speed is only 2 mbps UNFAIR!!!

Keep in mind there's a difference between mbps and MBps: megabits per second and megabytes per second. It's possible your connection status box is measured in megabits per second, and your actual file transfer speed is in megabytes per second, in which case that sound like you're getting the correct speed.

There's a ton of possible bottlenecks to consider before you get anywhere close to 54Mbit. For now you need to place both computers next to the router to achieve 100% signal.

People still use WiFi?

Unfortunately I can't plug a Cat5 cable into my iPod Touch or Smartphone. I had an extremely long one for my laptop but one or two of the wires have come out of the plastic connection and it no longer works. Are they easily replaced or will I have to get a new cable?

They use separate radios altogether. The frequency is independent of the speed your network will run at. It may lower the speeds of the 2.4ghz network when that powerbook is connected (a wifi radio will typically only run as fast as the slowest device), but it will not affect your 5ghz network.

Even if you don't setup the most modern an ultra secure password protection on your router, set something up. Doesn't matter if it is a simple password. Most problems I encounter in this area are not people who are trying to crack your password, but random people who are just connecting to whatever open network is available. A lot of the people don't even realize they are stealing someone else's wireless (they don't understand the concept). Some do but don't care as long as it is open. Once it is password protected, they quit and asked me to help setup internet connection (work at a local small internet provider and computer repair). Not saying you should not try to use secure password's and modern security, but for some people they just don't understand, or they just aren't willing to deal with the hassle. If you can convince them at least to do the basics, then it's still better than nothing.

yes, good advice, but somehow I think they'll still forget that its written on the router. They don't even know what their router is or what it looks like. And if I point it out to them, they'll forget in a couple of weeks anyway.

How about suggestions for covering multiple stories. Should the router be at the ceiling of the lower floor or upper floor. In each case should the antennae still be up or should they be inverted if placed on the ceiling of the upper floor/attic? Also, is there a good, responsive signal strength meter which can be used to gauge signal. Most laptops have about 4 levels of signal, ipads have 3 or 4, and both are very, very laggy - to the point of being useless for real time mapping/verification. Ideally one which is affordable (or maybe a mobile app or laptop app with a real-time signal strength meter)?

Actually most home-wifi routers that use "rubber duck" type external type antennas ARE ommi-directional antennas with a typical gain between 2-7 dBi. The RF pattern from these in an optimal unobstructed 3d space is similar to droopy doughnut.

Actually its not advised to connect router to router, unless it has a built-in AP mode. Its best to just get a Repeater, or Wireless Access Point (AP) Unit.. If you want to go cheap, find an old router that is supported by DD-WRT, Tomato, or OpenWRT and set it as a AP/Repeater.

That's dumb. Get ONE router. Then get ONE switch. Then get as many wireless access points as necessary. Plug in accordingly. Having 3 routers because you have three floors is ridiculous. Why have three routing tables actively running, in a chain, in your internal network!? Can you imagine forwarding a port! Jeez!!