Sick of Dealing with Weak WiFi Signal? Here Are a Few Tips.

Need to up your WiFi strength? Here are a few tips!

On June 30, 2005 the record for the longest WiFi connection was set at 125 miles. While this distance probably exceeds your needs, here are some quick tips to maximize your signal strength and minimize interference with a little wireless feng shui.

The experts offer a number of easy ways to add or improve your WiFi signal and of course to improve coverage. The first and most effective method is to change the internal settings on your laptop.

Under the hood:

1)      Set the adapter settings to maximize coverage (i.e, Power Mgmt. to Maximum, Transmit Power to Maximum, and Throughput Enhancement to Enabled).

2)     Minimize mirrors. All metallic surfaces reflect WiFi signals, including the thin metal layer found in most mirrors.

3)     Place your router in one of the following locations:
a.       Near the center of the house
b.       Off the floor, ideally on a high shelf
c.       As far as possible from your neighbor’s Wi-Fi router (which, of course, you’ve made sure is using a different channel)
d.       Away from cordless phones and microwaves, which operate on the same 2.4-Ghz frequency.(There are some cordless phones that are Wi-Fi friendly)
e.       Keep antennas as far away from power cords and other computer wires as possible. Those cords and wires can interfere with radio reception.

4)     Turn off your adapter if no WiFi can be found anywhere. When you reach a town, turn it back on. You will seem to find WiFi everywhere. Whether or not you can access it will be another thing.

Other Tips and Tricks:

1)       The computer case itself can be a significant barrier to the Wi-Fi signal – try positioning the case so it doesn’t come between the network card and router antennas.

2)       The addition of a “high gain” (higher dBi) external antenna will often provide increased reception signal and performance. Note that a higher dBi increases the signal horizontally, but decreases vertically. If you need to cover several floors, a higher dBi will probably not help. In this case, you might consider buying a Wi-Fi amplifier, which will boost your signal.

3)       Reflectors can also be used to good advantage. Utilities like NetStumbler can be used to tune your placement of the reflector. Compact disks can be used, as can anything that actually looks like a parabolic reflector(reflector, not a mirror). The reflector, of course, should be placed behind the receiving device or antenna. Large increases in signal strength can be expected (this trick also works with cell phones).

4)       If all else fails, you can look into purchasing a WiFi repeater, which is a piece of hardware you can use to boost the signal between the router and your device.

5)       Depending on your brand and model of wireless router, you may be able to replace the built in software with a replacement open source solution that adds much more capabilities and the option to increase the power to your wireless antenna.

6)       If you still need more range, consider upgrading your wireless standard, up to Wireless N or Wireless G with MIMO. These two technologies will greatly increase the range of a formerly 802.11g or 802.11b network.

Happy Surfing!

By –

David Little, Senior at UW - Architectural Engineering From Omaha, NE

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