And what to consider when upgrading or purchasing a new router.
The ability to stream TV shows, movies, and games is something we’ve come to expect—along with a consistent, fast internet speed.
A slow connection is slightly annoying at best. What’s worse? The dreaded Wi-Fi dead zone.
If this sounds familiar, there are a couple of things you can do to identify what’s causing the issue. The first is to run a speed test to see if you are getting the internet speed you should be getting. The second is to map the Wi-Fi coverage in your house or apartment to find those dead zones. NetSpot and HeatMapper are two popular options for mapping Wi-Fi coverage.
Now, armed with speed data and the knowledge of any dead spots in your place, you can start tinkering with your router for better coverage—and faster internet speeds.
Ways to Increase Your Internet Speed With Your Current Router
Things like walls and doorways can impact your router performance, along with whether your live in a house or an apartment building with lots of other routers and devices that can cause interference.
So, what can you do that doesn’t involve knocking down walls or moving to the countryside? Consumer Reports suggests the following to improve internet speed and connectivity:
- Higher is better. Router antennas work like an umbrella—the higher your put it, the more coverage there is underneath. This is easy if you live in a two-story house: place the router on the second floor, on a table or the top of a shelf so it’s out in the open. If you live in an apartment, or a single story house, don’t fret. Find a high spot, like on a shelf or a table that is out in the open. Remember: the more space there is between the antennas and the rest of the house, the better.
- Find the middle ground. Umbrella’s against a wall aren’t as useful, and neither is your router when it’s placed along the wall, on a window ledge, or tucked back in a corner. Use the results from NetSpot or HeatMapper to help figure out the best middle spot for the best household coverage.
- Shift devices around. Experiment with moving devices like PlayStations, XBoxes, and AppleTVs around to see which spot is the best. Maybe the device gets a better signal if it’s a little in front of the TV instead of behind, or off to the side. If you have a router that has a few antennas, you may want to adjust those to maximize your signal strength.
As technology advances, however, so does speed and connectivity. Older routers may not be able to handle increased speeds or more devices, so it may be time to upgrade your router.
What to Consider When Purchasing a New Router
PCMag has published its list of the best wireless routers for 2016, but which one is right for you?
The answer depends on a few variables, such as:
- If you live in an apartment or a house.
- If you do a lot of live video chat.
- If you’re into online gaming
- If you consistently stream music, TV, and movies.
- If you need USB ports for additional devices or storage.
- What its customer support is like.
And then there are the technical aspects, like if its dual-band to take advantage of both 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz, whether it has strong security and encryption features like WPA2, or if it’s compatible with the new 802.11ac wireless standard.
One other consideration: price.
Routers can be as cheap as $15, and run upwards of $300. Knowing what you’ll use it for will go a long way in picking the best Wi-Fi router for you.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try building your own router, too.
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