How to Boost the Wireless Signal on a Laptop

by David Lipscomb

There's little doubt that the flexibility afforded by Wi-Fi helps increase our entertainment possibilities and workflow. However, various things around the home prevent the best possible reception. Some issues regarding Wi-Fi include poor router placement, low signal power and competing signals. Getting these issues resolved helps you get back online with better signal strength than before.

Check your router's settings. Enter the IP address of your router (often 192.168.11 or similar) in a Web browser. Change the channel your router broadcasts over to 1, 6 or 11. These are the channels best used by Wi-Fi signals. Other channels may be used as last resorts to get around possible interference.

Determine your wireless router's broadcasting power. Many routers come with a default setting in the middle of the range. Increase your router's broadcast power to the highest setting to improve coverage and speed throughout your home.

Relocate your router. Wireless signals travel laterally and downward. Placing the router in the center of an upper level and elevated on a piece of furniture helps propagate the Wi-Fi signal more evenly.

Avoid water heaters, microwaves and large metal I-beams whenever possible when placing the router. Water and metal interfere with wireless signals.

Replace your router's antenna to a directional model if you must place the unit in a corner. Directional antennas send the signal into the living space, rather than outside or toward your neighbors like omni-directional antennas will. Not all routers support the use of an external antenna. Units that do support external antennas have a port or threaded post designated for the addition.

Add a Wi-Fi bridge. These devices plug into an outlet in the section of your home that needs wireless improvement. These devices connect to your primary router wirelessly, then connect to remote devices using wires or another wireless connection. Using these often inexpensive units, you can even out coverage and improve overall strength.

Tip

  • Make wireless network changes from a wired computer. In case you lose the wireless signal, you can still make changes to your router.

Warning

  • Always use the highest level of wireless security possible. WEP is normally the default but is easily cracked. WPA or WPA2 are far more secure, providing your hardware supports it.

Items you will need

  • Wi-Fi signal bridge
  • Directional Wi-Fi antenna

About the Author

David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images