Make your home Wi-Fi faster and more reliable with these simple tune-up tips

I hear complaints constantly about Wi-Fi: It’s too slow, it never works in the living room, streaming videos stutter on the upstairs TV. Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can try to tune up your network!

First up, I’ll be honest: If I can run an Ethernet cable to something that needs an Internet connection, especially stuff that runs HD video, like an Apple TV, Roku, or HDTV, I run that cable. It’s fast, it never drops out, and as long as the dog doesn’t chew through the cable, it just about never has a problem. Plus, all that traffic stays off the Wi-Fi network!

Second, all too often routers are stuffed in a closet in some far corner of your house. If this sounds like your home, do yourself a favor, and try to get it out in the open, as high as possible, with as few walls between it and the rest of the house. Also try pointing one antenna vertically and one horizontally, if it has a couple of external antennas.

If you’re running 802.11n, you might want to try connecting via 802.11g instead. I’ve seen throughput speeds double. In theory N should be faster, but in the real world it doesn’t always work out.

In fact, wireless networking can just be weird. I hated 802.11n until I bought a new 802.11ac router. Whether it was better radios, or the beam-forming antennas, or the faster processor, the new router let me use the 802.11n in my old laptop in the far corners of my house for the first time. And the 802.11ac Wi-Fi delivered a serious boost in speed.

Home Network TuneUp

It’s not always necessary to buy a new router to speed up your Wi-Fi, but if your router is more than a couple years old, you might benefit from an upgrade. And if you own new gear that has 802.11ac built in, it’s definitely time to upgrade your router. Best of all, some of the least expensive 802.11ac routers out there deliver excellent performance.­

There’s lots more to experiment with, but definitely start by moving your router. And hey, try moving it to another location, or three, before you give up! If that doesn’t work, you can move on to more complicated troubleshooting, like checking to see if you and all your neigbors are running on the same Wi-Fi channel.

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