8 Tips To Effectively Boost Your Wireless Router Signal

coverimg1   8 Tips To Effectively Boost Your Wireless Router SignalLook at it – staring you down so innocently, yet I know that your Linksys wireless router refuses to give you signal. Since you decided to place it in a corner to gather dust, using it only for its relay capabilities, it has decided to constantly bring up the feared “Limited Network Connection” bubble. Don’t you just hate those?

These routers have the power to transmit intangible signals; these signals, powerful as they may be, are prone to constant interference whether it be by physical objects, other signals floating around in the air, or even because you didn’t plug the wire in all the way.

Regardless of what the issue, there are some proven ways to try to remedy the situation of a weak Wifi signal. Some may simply be a little bit of common sense, other methods require purchasing additional parts.

Here are 8 tips on how to boost your wireless router signal.

Position it better

Unless you are living in a cave and you somehow miraculously have internet connectivity at the same time, you probably figured out that if your wireless router was in the corner of your kitchen under a pile of old newspapers and your computer was located on the second floor on the opposite side of the house — it is a great idea to place your router in an open position (preferably in the center of your house) where it isn’t obstructed by dense or metallic objects such as file cabinets or brick walls.

Other items that may interfere with your signal include (but are not limited to) microwave ovens, cordless phones, garage door openers, and even baby monitors. The bottom line is that the less objects in the signal’s way, the easier it is for it to relay information to your computer.

Change the WiFi Channel

Generally, Wifi routers transmit their signals on a radio frequency of 2.4 GHz. Many other household objects may operate on or around the same frequency, like cordless phones, for example. So, the channel becomes bogged down over time with lots of excess traffic that slows down your wireless connection. In the U.S.,  routers have a predefined set of 11 channels, and the default on a lot of them is channel 6. Changing the channel would reduce some interference. So how do you change the channel?

A great utility many people use is called NetStumbler, a wireless networking tool that just so happens to offer the option for you to change your wifi channel. Once opened, the program gives the choice of fooling around with all of your wireless utilities. Here is where you change your channel:

ns1   8 Tips To Effectively Boost Your Wireless Router Signal

Which leads to:

netstumb2   8 Tips To Effectively Boost Your Wireless Router Signal

Since the default for most people (at least in the United States) is 6, you may want to change your channel to something like say, channel 11. Take note that the changing of your wireless channel will NOT in any way increase your speed or bandwith. It will simply remedy your network connection if it keeps breaking off or getting lost.

Update firmware or drivers

Updates, whether related to the router firmware or your computer’s network adapter are done to fix bugs, smoothen out performance and reliability, and maybe even add new features. It is always a good idea to stay up to date with the latest releases by either of these parties.

Tim suggested using RadarSync to easily automatically update your computer’s drivers at once.

Buy your equipment from the same company

Compatibility can be a big problem, especially for two way transmissions. It may help to purchase your adapter and your router – everything, from the same company. Aside from that, some companies have embedded enhancements that improve speed or signal strength when everything is under the same brand.

Replace your antenna

Most routers come equipped with something called an omnidirectional antenna. This means that the antenna attached to the router broadcasts the signal equally within a certain circular radius. This is great if the router is positioned in the center of a hub where it needs to be able to reach ever corner of a room, but it can prove to be extremely wasteful if your router is in the corner (then again, why would it be there in the first place?). Since the signal is transmitted in a radius, if you place it in a corner, a lot of the transmitted signal is sent into the wall or outside into the open.

That is why you can manually detach your antenna and replace it with a high gain antenna. This focuses its energy to direct the signal in one general direction. Simple enough? You may have to check and see if your router has an external antenna jack/removable antenna.

Replace your wireless adapter

Since this is a two-way transmission, it may not have occured to you that it may not be the router that is the problem, but actually the wireless adapter attached to your computer. If your computer cannot send signals back to the router, the same problem ensues.

What is an adapter?  It used to be the card that you inserted into your computer or laptop. These days, most of the adapters are in the form of USB devices. Consider switching to a USB adapter that houses an external antenna, like this one depicted below.

externaladap   8 Tips To Effectively Boost Your Wireless Router Signal

This is usually only applicable to desktop computers. If you purchased a laptop that has a built-in adapter, it probably isn’t your adapter because they are usually very high quality installations.

Add an additional Wireless Access Point (WAP) or Repeater

If all else fails, you may need to purchase a repeater or a secondary Wireless Access Point. The consensus among these two options is rather mixed. Constructing a secondary WAP requires the ability to feed an ethernet cable from your primary router to the new access point. There are also cost considerations to be aware of, as WAPs cost more than regular wireless routers. Even so, WAPs have certain flexibilities that normal routers do not have. They can be configured as gateways, bridges, clients or repeaters. But that’s another story. The bottom line is that the WAP is an extension of the original hub in order to extend the distance of the signal. The repeater works the same way.

Here is a tutorial on how to set up the WAP courtesy of Techskillsvideos:

Try weird things

Apparently aluminum foil amplifies reception and transmission. It may or may not work, YMMV.

A little bit of background: You may have seen 802.11b or 802.11g written somewhere on your router – these are merely wireless LAN standards that the particular router adheres to. The main difference between these is that 802.11b has a maximum data transfer rate of 11 Mbps, whereas 802.11g has a much higher 54 Mbps rate.

With that being said, there is no way to improve data transmission or bandwith outside of hardware applications and upgrades. The tips mentioned above are meant to help you solve the problem of an interfered or weak signal. These may or may not work for you, but there is a strong correlation between troubleshooting and success rate.

Have you any other tips to help strengthen a weak signal? Has changing channels made a big difference for you? Tried attaching aluminum foil to your router’s antenna? How did that turn out for you? Share your experiences in the comments!

 

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56 Comments -

Waqas Lone

i really gota try this……my game really lags when on router

Womble

I found this with wireless too doing a ping -t at the commandline revealed that my throughput was OK but they were dropouts at regular intervals. Having tried a zillion things I am resigned myself to the fact that this is the way with wireless right now.

I currently Have a second router setup as a wired bridge so that my main PC and Xbox are wired but I still have the benefit of wireless throughout the house.

Hector

I may need to update the firmware for my wireless device, and try the rest of the tips.
Thanks

Belz

Thanks Leon, this will definately help me when I’m playing games because I lag a lot also do you know anyway in which I could lower my ping?

Leon

Well, the first thing to consider is obtaining an internet connection with more bandwith, or a faster connection. the wireless signal is related to the ping problem in that the more data being transferred, the larger the burden on the connection. If your internet connection is clear, then your ping should be lower. Also, try closing all of the unnecessary operations going on; programs can slow down your CPU by clogging up memory.

dgeyer

If you have an old WRT model Linksys, you could load on the amazing Tomato Firmware. polarcloud.com/tomato

bob

Reflectors (parabolic or corner) can make a big difference in signal strength.

But the first two steps:

(1) Set it up using WPA2 security so your wireless connection is just for you, and not for everyone on the block! Your wireless connection will be a lot faster when it’s not supporting your neighbor’s hentai fix, and his daughter’s youtube habit!

(2) Pick a channel that’s not as busy! On the 2.4 GHz US bands, there are 3 nonoverlapping channels: 1, 6, and 11. That’s it. Can your gear do the 5GHz band? Channel 147? It’s less crowded up there! Running pre=’N’ on 5GHz can really rock.

Once you’re secure and on a not so busy channel, then worry about signal strength.

heat pump

Why go to the trouble of buying an omni-directional antenna? A pringles can works great and with two USB wifi adaptors and 2x pringles cans I can make a bridge connection between two points about 6-700m apart. Awesome stuff!

AriesWarlock

Do you have a video of this?

shs

What a stupid list……just replace the stock firmware with DDWRT….the stock firmware has transmission strength set at 20mw. With DDWRT, you can crank it up to 250mw…

sausage

DDWRT rocks and you can use it to configure a spare wireless routr you have lying around as a WIRELESS AP!

SadistiX

rather than buy a repeater or WAP, why not just upgrade to wireless N?

itguy

wire your isht.

Skeleetor

Wireless N has yet to be standardized fyi.
Also you all definitly want to set your Nic’s to full speed duplex, alowing simultaneous up and down info transmission.

shel

I upgraded from G to N (Cisco) and found zero differences. There should simply be a real signal booster to purchase, rated honestly, like 10 watts (mw is hardly enough).

Ky

Thanks for the software channel changing software tip. I have to try that out with my DLink router. I bought a DLink DIR655 and while it cost me $150 it hasn’t worked at all with Windows Vista. I’ve been advised to change the channel and now I might have the means to do so. Thank you.

cjizzle

The best way extending wifi capability that wasnt mentioned on here is using mains electricity wires to boost signal. You can buy a small plug like device which you connect to your router which you then plug into the mains, it then transmits the signal through out the wires in your home essentially turning it into one big wifi antennae I have this i my house and can get strong signal from about 200m away. you need wpa encryption though or everyone will be using it.

cccv

@cjizzle: What product do you use?

AriesWarlock

you are talking about ethernet powerline I take it.

.High*Ping*Drifter.

Put your wireless router on top of a metal cookie sheet, which gives the router a “ground plane” … this also works with cordless phones, putting the base unit on a cookie sheet.

Beyond that, pick a non-busy channel is always good advice…seems like everyone in my condo complex was is channel 6 or 11, I guess those were the defaults…I dropped down to channel 1 and immediately got much better thruput.

Buy a wireless “N” router, works quite a bit better than a “G” router.

.H*P*D.

THBergdorf

30 months of dropped connections and weak signal reception with a Linksys WRT300N router and WUSB300N adapter. 30 months of re-searching for the signal, re-entering passphrase,R&R software, update drivers/firmware, “chat” with English-impared tech support, try G, N, mixed, various Radio Bands. Finally drilled a hole through each of two walls and ran 35′ of Cat6. Problem solved.

Frank’s Father

How many times do I have to remind you, the world is a far better place without your childish commentary. Go back to your room.

David T.

I have seen cases were a notebook’s built in wifi adapter would only reliably work on either channel 6 or 11. FYI.

Vadim P.

I didn’t find this particularly useful. Esp. that the original firmware is often surpassed by stuff like Tomato in performance

Alex Mcquown

Do what I do – instal a custom firmware on the router of your choice (I use DD-WRT) and crank up your maximum transmission power to 251mW.

If you have lag while on wireless – that’s the overhead nature of wireless – go wired.

Toby

Alternate firmware choices are great (I prefer Tomato to DD-WRT, for the snazzy bandwidth monitoring graphs). But it isn’t generally recommended to increase the transmission power to the max. I’ve been running mine a 70mW without any trouble, but I’d consider rigging up some kind of fan if you’re going over 100mW…

sam

Aluminum reflectors do work – immensely well if you do them properly. I set up a parabolic reflector on my router using aluminum foil which I shaped around my bent knee. In one of my back rooms the connection improved from 1mbps to 11mbps, another room went from 5.5 to 20. Costs almost nothing and increases your range reliably, I highly recommend it.

Zonaholic

Install DD-WRT and crank the transmission power up to 200 mW, overclock the processor if you have the 54GL, and build yourself a high gain directional antenna with an old directv dish. I have a point to point connection of about half a mile between two remote sites. It also works great for sniffing on a wardrive.

Sean

I wonder if the location of the linksy terminal matters.

CeeJay

I’d like to clear up some of the authors mistakes.

“Apparently aluminum foil amplifies reception and transmission”

That’s not correct. Aluminium foil amplifies neither reception or transmission.
It can however be used to focus the signal.
Aluminium foil is metal and all metal reflect electromagnetic waves.

CeeJay

I’d like to clear up some of the authors mistakes.

“Apparently aluminum foil amplifies reception and transmission”

That’s not correct. Aluminium foil amplifies neither reception or transmission.
It can however be used to focus the signal.
Aluminium foil is metal and all metal reflect electromagnetic waves.

A piece of metal used to reflect and focus the signal is called a reflector.
Most reflector are parabolic in shape .. just like a satellite dish.
This because the parabolic shape reflects all signals into one spot and if you put your antenna in that spot you get a huge improvement in signal gain.

The Windsurfer is such a parabolic reflector and it popular because it costs next to nothing to make and can be made in no time and easily from stuff you already have in your house.
You don’t need to put YMMV up there .. It works.

You can also bounce your signal off a large flat metal plate or a metal mesh in exactly the same way you would bounce light off a mirror .. in fact you can use a mirror since a mirror is a smooth metal surface (protected by glass). Light behaves the exact same way because light is also an electromagnetic wave.

“there is no way to improve data transmission or bandwith outside of hardware applications and upgrades.”

Not true. While you cannot increase the bandwidth of your connection beyond its capabilities , you can improve your utilization of your available bandwidth, by reducing the overhead and thus improve your speed.

Andrew

dd-wrt.com

allows boosting of signal to 250mw – solves all problems and makes this article useless. don’t overdo it as it can burn out your cpu if not cooled properly. (reduce lifetime)

itguy

Sorry to busrt your bubble, but those parabolic tin foil covered contraptions really do work. If you build them correctly, you will turn your omnidirectional antenna into a directional antenna and get better reception in one general direction while losing strength in all others. It’s great if you put it in one corner of the house, not so good in the middle. Silly know-, i mean guess-it-alls.

CeeJay

Some additional tips for improving your connection :

1) Try reducing the speed of your wifi-adapter to a speed that provide just enough bandwidth to accommodate your connection with a little to spare for overhead.

You don’t need to connect to your wifi-router with 54mbit/s if you only use it to connect to the internet with 4mbit/s.
I have a 4mbit connection to the Internet so I have set my use a wifi speed of 5.5mbit.
This improves the stability of my signal and doesn’t slow down my Internet any.

As a rule of thumb : Slower connection speeds are more stable.

This is because slower connections speeds use other (usually more stable) methods to modulate the signal.

See this for an overview :
http://www.networkdictionary.com/Wireless/WiFi-Wireless-LAN-Data-Rates.php

Using my example 5.5Mbps uses CCK/DQPSK which is more stable than OFDM/64-QAM which 54Mbps uses.

Testa

Or you can just install the free program DD-WRT o n the router and increase the power that is directed at the antenna to increase range….

CeeJay

2) Switch off any “turbo” , “nitro” , “afterburner” or other proprietary speed-boosting modes your router offers unless you need the extra speed and both your router and your wifi-adapter are from the same company (otherwise it won’t speed up your network , it will only make the connection less stable)

3) Don’t use a hidden SSID network name.
If you do then Windows will routinely drop your network for short periods of time to search for a better connection.
It usually reconnects fast and you probably won’t notice it while browsing or reading email , but it can be devastating to a Vo-IP call or online gaming.

4) Don’t set your router to wifi-b or wifi-g only if it supports both. It will not improve security , nor will it give your router less to do or speed anything up.
What it will do however is make your router not understand wifi-b or wifi-g packets , so they instead are seen as noise , which will make your network less stable.
It can be okay though to set a dualband wifi-n router to N only because wifi-b and g doesn’t transmit on the same frequencies.

5) Use TCP-optimizer to optimize your Windows settings for your connection speed.
This doesn’t make your wifi-connection more stable , but it does make your internet connection recover faster from problems when it is unstable and also helps you get a lower ping and utilize slightly more of your available bandwidth.

Get it from Speedguide.net (it freeware):
http://www.speedguide.net/downloads.php

6) If using Windows 2K , Windows XP or Windows 2003 also get the tweak to DNS from the same page :
http://www.speedguide.net/files/winxp_dnscache.zip

This tells Windows not to cache failed DNS requests. If your connection was unstable when requesting a DNS and did not get a reply , Windows would normally remember that and it future attempts to connect to that site would fail until you rebooted. Not caching failed attempts prevents that.

Leon

I’ve done some research on tomato and it does seem pretty legit. DD-WRT also seems to be an alternative, so give those a shot if you would like.

@ Ceejay

I reiterate my previous point: you cannot increase your bandwidth outside of hardware upgrades. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I don’t seem to see the word utilization anywhere in the sentence I wrote.

One more thing. We get it. Tomato and DD-WRT. Repeating what others said 500 times really brings new light to a situation.

CeeJay

@ Testa : Increasing the power output of your router works .. but only one way.
It will make your wifi-adapter receive a stronger signal , but it will not make your router get a stronger signal from your adapter unless you can find a way to boost that too.

Better antennas , waveguides or reflectors however help to both transmit and receive a stronger signal.
So does placing your antenna in a good spot.

Also if you increase your transmit power you also cause more noise to the surrounding wifi networks your neighbors are using.
Therefore only increase your transmit power if other methods if improving the signal is not enough.

CeeJay

@ Leon :
You can make your wifi-g network connect with greater speeds (up to 125Mbps) if you use the “turbo” mode that some gear come with , but as I wrote earlier , only if all your equipment supports it and it could make your signal unstable.

You can also get more throughput with the same connection if you tweak your Windows settings and your wifi-settings.

Which brings me to :

7) If your router or adapter allow you to choose between long and short preamble , always use short.
It greatly reduces the overhead of your connection and long is only more stable in the most extreme cases.
Your throughput will be better with short preamble and your ping will be lower.

Ben

If you have a spare router laying around you can always do this:

tweaktown.com/guides/1575/print/index.html

I used an old Netgear and a 15m CAT 5e cable to widen my siganal.

Note : You can tun off the Main Routers wireless if you dnot need it at the source.

CeeJay

@ Belz :
To lower your network ping try the following

1: Use an Ethernet cable and not wifi.
I mention this first , because I’ve seen several people complaining about stability issues and lag using wifi , and found that they were trying to connect to a router in the SAME room.
This should probably be step 1 of Leon guide – “Don’t use Wifi if you don’t gain anything from it”
So simple , but many people overlook the simple things.

2: Use short preamble if your router and adapter allows you to set it. It should be default but isn’t always.

3: Tweak your Windows settings with TCP optimizer.
http://www.speedguide.net/downloads.php

4: Tweak them further for gaming by disable naggling – See :
http://www.speedguide.net/read_articles.php?id=158
This requires you to know how to use regedit.
Also note that while it improves ping , it can hurt your bandwidth – Choose between higher speed or lower ping, you can’t have both.

5: Either use a router firmware that supports QoS/Traffic Shaping or use a program does.
CfosSpeed is such a program, but it’s not free.
http://www.cfos.de/speed/cfosspeed_e.htm
It can help you get a little more bandwidth and a little lower ping out of your connection.
It also manages that bandwidth better , so lots of downloading in the background doesn’t ruin your Vo-IP call , webbrowsing or gaming.

6: Try a better connection from another ISP.
You might try using Speedtest.net’s database of results to see which ISPs in your area are highly rated by other users:
http://speedtest.net/global.php

Also ask around people you know to find out which is the best provider in your area.

Tom

There are software solutions if all else fails – DD-WRT will allow you to boost the signal amp beyond manufacturer specifications and give you much finer control over ACK timing and other variables that will affect speed and signal propagation.

Ken Pasco

I use an N router which give me the same speed as the DSL line. I also use software to boost the speed of the pc. I don’t play games on it (well, maybe gin, but I don’t need speed for that), but I tell you, I am F-A-S-T!

rob

Hi
I paid 90 bucks for high gain linksys antennas. They didn’t do a thing. I gave them away to someone who ran a linksys in an auditorium (big open space, very little metal and no objects in the way). He also noted zero difference or a difference so minimal that it made no effective difference.

Lauren

I have a laptop and gave up trying to use it wireless. The speed goes down and then up so pages load and then they stop. It is so frustrating.

Harrier

This is all well and good, but really doesn’t upgrade your router. You can upgrade almost any router by putting in different firmware. For whatever reason, the manufactures don’t put much time into their firmware and are only adding some hardware with minimal support. So, some people have taken matters into their own hands and essentially done their job for them.

Here a link that should get your started. It is something anyone familiar with routers should already know. The information in this article appears to be 20 years old

Andy

Use only channels 1, 6, or 11. Using other channels will interfere with those three channels (Thanks WiFi Specification!), causing you throughput loss as well as throughput loss for your neighbors.

Jenny Miller

This is great, and I really appreciate all of the information that you shared in this post!

pcrequest

I would recommend http://www.metageek.net/products/inssider also to see what your neighbors are on, and then pick a channel that is most clear. This will only show you wifi usage, and not phones, bluetooth, microwave ovens, but Metageek also makes some USB dongles I’ve found at reasonable prices at eBay if you want to take the investigation to the next level. Remember that wifi works a bit like old hubbed ethernet. All devices are competing for a common media (the air channel in this case) and only one device can send OR receive at any given moment over that media.

Also if you have many G devices, and one B device, the B is going to spoil the party and everything will operate at B. (ISBN: 978-0-470-11008-9 page 709)

Blah

The Aluminum foil DOES work, without a doubt. I spent the time to test it out. My signal strength from 1 side of the house to the other was around -70dbm stock, as measured by “Inssider” on Windows 7, after attaching the tinfoil Windsurfer antenna to just my PC I gained about 7% signal improvement (~60-65dbm), after attaching another Windsurfer antenna to the Verizon FIOS Wireless Router and aiming them at each other I am now at 50-55dbm, a nearly 20% improvement with just some paper and tinfoil and 20 minutes of time. I just ran a test at SpeedTest to see if it would actually be any faster and I got 20.80Mb/sec down and 4Mb/sec up, my best speed yet. Thank you FIOS and Walmart tinfoil.

Blah

P.S. wireless technology works just like the human voice. When speaking to someone you automatically know to turn towards them and your voice is projected in that direction and therefore louder to the recipient than if you were to talk facing away. These tinfoil antenna’s allow you to face your wireless devices towards each other, so when they talk they can hear each other better. The tinfoil also blocks out some interference from other equipment behind the tinfoil, such as electrical boxes and other wireless devices, much like putting up cubicles at work to keep noise levels down, that way you don’t have to scream at the guy next to you hold a simple conversation.

Florine Rosenbeck

Erste-Hilfe f?r einen Herzinfarkt und Ihre Post sieht sehr

Hallie Dandy

Sie haben einige gute Punkte gibt. Ich habe eine Suche auf dem

Super Man

my router is in the kitchen, next to the wireless phone hub, 3 feet from the microwave and in front of the sliding glass door leading to the backyard.

anyways, here’s how i got my wireless signal from 70% to 100%.

1. i bought a corner shelf for the wall (http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&productId=100546138&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=100546138&cm_mmc=shopping-_-googlebase-_-D23X-_-100546138).

2. placed the router on the shelf.

3. taped tinfoil to wall behind router, so it acts as a directional tool.

what is happening is that before, i was (and everybody else is as well), losing x% of my wireless signal out the backend of my house (especially through the sliding glass door). now, the tinfoil reflects the wifi signal back into the house. no signal loss = full signal. makes sense, doesn’t it? what’s the use in letting half the signal go outside.

i now get 100% signal throughout my house (upstairs, downstairs, anywhere), and it never varies.

Mustafa

I don’t know about anyone else but the last one worked for me it got me signal strength from low to very good… that sorts my issue out.