10 Ways to Improve the Speed of Your Current Router
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A good router can make a massive difference to the speed of your internet connection. But if you don’t have the money to fork out on a top-of-the-range model, what other avenues are open to you?

If you want to know how to optimize router settings for speed or how to establish the best router configuration for faster internet, keep reading.

1. Automate a Reboot Schedule

Most newer routers don’t need to be rebooted regularly. However, if you’ve ever run into a dead internet connection, rebooting your router is often all it takes to get you back up and running.

However, if you find yourself rebooting the router with any regularity, the DD-WRT and Tomato firmware options both have timed reboot options. Set it to reboot once a day while you’re sleeping, and you’ll never even notice the downtime while the router powers off and starts back up.

2. Make Your Router Faster With a New Antenna

A simple way to make a router faster is to buy a new antenna.

The antenna on most consumer-grade routers is awful. An amplified aftermarket antenna is a great fix and a simple way to improve signal quality (and thus improve speed) without the need for a new device. Powered and amplified aftermarket options start at around $10 to $15, all the way up into the low $100s.

Plug-in range extenders are a bit more expensive, but they act as a powered antenna and wireless repeater in one. They can offer a significant improvement to homes with dead zones or signal degradation, but your mileage may vary.

3. Disable Older Wireless Protocols

How do you optimize router settings for speed? One of the first things you can consider is turning off old wireless protocols.

Newer routers on the 802.11ac protocol offer capabilities far exceeding many ISPs service offerings. While the router might be fast, many of your devices are probably using older protocols—such as 802.11g—which slows the entire network down as soon as this device connects. Ideally, you should remove any device you see using b or g protocols.

The fastest protocols, in order of fastest to slowest, are ac > n > g > b.

Consult your router documentation to find out how to do this.

4. Change the Channel Width

What about the best router settings to improve speed on your local network? For example, how can you make a video stream between your devices more quickly?

The best router configuration for local speed often entails changing the channel width. The wider the width, the more that older devices on older protocols will suffer from interference.

Take it one step further with our article on channel bonding for Wi-Fi routers What Is Channel Bonding? One Way to Double Your Internet Speed What Is Channel Bonding? One Way to Double Your Internet Speed Looking for ways to improve your internet speed? One option is channel bonding, which you can use with hardware and software. Read More .

5. Keep Your Router Updated

One of the most overlooked ways to maximize router speed is to ensure your router is always running the latest software and firmware from the manufacturer.

Sure, the updates are normally security fixes, but they’re not going to suddenly make your router blazing fast. However, every incremental gain can help. If you’ve not updated in a while, you might see more of a boost than you’d expect.

6. Experiment With Router Location

It’s not only about finding the best router settings for fast internet. You also need to consider where you’re placing your router in your home.

Because the router competes with every other 2.4GHz and/or 5GHz device in your area, subtle movements often make a world of difference. Additionally, the building material of your house might interfere with the wireless signal. Solid concrete walls are notoriously hard for a Wi-Fi connection to pass through.

7. Optimize Your Router’s Channel Settings

Let’s take another look at how to make a router faster by optimizing the settings.

Have you considered changing the router’s channel? There are plenty of free tools that’ll scan your local airwaves for the channels with the least interference. They will then make a suggestion about which channel you should switch to.

You need to change the channel from within the router’s settings. Once again, you’ll find out how to do this using your device’s documentation or online help page.

Learn more on how to pick the best Wi-Fi channel for your router How to Pick the Best Wi-Fi Channel for Your Router How to Pick the Best Wi-Fi Channel for Your Router What's the best Wi-Fi channel for your router and how do you change it? We answer these questions and more in this quick guide. Read More .

8. Switch the Router to a Different Band

A typical home is full of wireless devices. Luckily, with a dual- or tri-band router, you’ll have the capability of separating them in order to maximize speeds.

In simple terms, you’re opening another lane for network traffic. While a one-lane road will get you there, two (or three) lanes are better for everyone involved.

If you have a dual-band router, you could assign some to the additional (and typically less crowded) 5GHz band, instead of all your devices competing for space in the 2.4GHz band.

We’ve written about the best dual-band routers you can buy What's the Best Dual-Band Router for Your Small Home? What's the Best Dual-Band Router for Your Small Home? You don't have to use your ISP's crappy default router. Here are the best dual-band routers to reduce network congestion. Read More if you’d like to learn more.

9. Change Your Network Name and Password

A lot of otherwise tech-savvy people still use the default username and password on their router. Even intermediate hackers are capable of hacking relatively secure networks with non-default passwords.

Using a strong Wi-Fi password is equally important. While you might do a great job of splitting your devices up into separate bands, updating your firmware, and switching channels during high traffic periods, it’s all an exercise in futility if your neighbors are piggybacking your Wi-Fi and using it to torrent movies all day.

10. Install New Firmware

tomato router firmware

Many routers keep the settings relatively dummy-proof so that you don’t screw anything up. While this is great for most users, sometimes you just want to dive in and hack the settings until you’re running a router that far exceeds its price tag.

There are several open source firmware options for some of the most popular routers. While not every router is supported, there is no shortage of great options. They can help you speed up a Netgear router, find the best settings for a TP-Link router, and make just about any brand of router run faster.

DD-WRT, OpenWRT, and Tomato make some of the most popular third-party firmware.

Optimize Your Router Settings for Speed

Hopefully, this article has shown you how to maximize your router’s speed and identify the best configuration for faster internet.

If you’d like to learn more about getting the most speed out of your router, check out our other articles on how to monitor and restrict router traffic How to Monitor and Restrict Router Traffic: 4 Tips and Tricks How to Monitor and Restrict Router Traffic: 4 Tips and Tricks How do you make sure your kids are actually sleeping on a school night and not staying up streaming internet videos? Read More and the best modem/router combo for every budget The Best Modem/Router Combo for Every Budget in 2019 The Best Modem/Router Combo for Every Budget in 2019 Buying the best Wi-Fi modem, router, or modem/router combo is hard. Our curated list of networking gear cuts through the jargon. Read More .

Explore more about: Computer Networks, LAN, Network Issues, Network Tips, Router, Troubleshooting, Wi-Fi.

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  1. Anonymous
    July 4, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    THE GOOD THING IS
    THE WIFI SIGNAL WILL COVER A LOT OF DISTANCES
    THE BAD THING IS
    IT MAY GET STOLEN OR WEATHER DAMAGED.

    By placing your WiFi router close to the window is best thing to do if want that full bar signal into your house or half a signal to your neighbors place.

  2. Anonymous
    July 3, 2015 at 1:50 am

    Oh So good to know.
    Thanks for your share.

  3. Anonymous
    June 25, 2015 at 2:16 am

    You mention the channel usage is crowded and you are trying to use HT40... If there is even 1 more fairly strong network nearby, HT40 is not going to be a stable option. Drop back to HT20. If you REALLY need higher speeds, your best bet is to look to 5GHz band. HT20 will also always give you significantly better range compared to HT40. HT40 might give you better speeds for clients that support it but it will reduce the range for ALL clients.

    If nearby networks are primarily using channels 1,6,11 - stick with 1 of those. Don't pick something in between or it will cause even more interference for yourself and them. Choose the channel with the weakest neighbouring signal. Aim to keep at least 2 (preferably 3) unused channels in between each network. If neighbouring networks are using silly channels like 2,3,7,8,9,12... Then not much you can do except pick one with least overlapping and weakest signals. InSSIDer is good at visualising channel usage and overlapping and coexisting networks. Check for other HT40 networks - they will be sucking up either channels 1&6 or 6&11. Realistically using channels 1-11, there is only room for 1 HT40 network and 1 HT20, or 3 HT20's. There is not room for 2 HT40's. To be a good WiFi neighbour, people really should not use HT40 at all unless they are a long distance from anyone else. If you REALLY need higher speeds, you need to move to 5GHz which has a lot more channels compared to 2.4GHz.

    Adjust your Sensitivity range. Realistically, how far do you need it to reach? 2500 will optimise it to reach 1250 meters from the router (2500/2). That's a long way and I doubt you would even see the signal from that distance. If the furthest point in your house from the router is say 250m, try setting it to 500 (250*2). Default I believe is 2000 and even this is usually too much for most home routers.

    Try increasing the Tx power if it has any effect on the output power (some routers will have a hardware limit that DDWRT can't exceed). Measure the signal dB power at the furthest point you want to use it from. If it is weak (below -72 dB) and you can't increase the power any more, then repositioning or an extender/repeater/2nd network may be the only choice. If the signal power is quite strong, other factors may be at play such as interference, channel selection, other router settings.

  4. Anonymous
    June 16, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    another free program to discover how crowded the WiFi spectrum is and to help decide the best channel to use is 'inSSIDer'.
    as for the best location for the router generally it should be near the center of the home and above head height in a single floor home and in a 2 story home near the ceiling of the first floor or near the floor of the second floor (not near the roof, you are getting too far away from the lower floor).

  5. Anonymous
    June 16, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    I tried the TP-Link RE200 AC750 WiFi range extender repeater. Within a day I could no longer use WiFi calling on my cell phone, I didn't connect that It could be this repeater. After a week I thought to unplug it and everything was back in business. I sent it back to Amazon. One has to be careful don't believe everything you read. Most routers are supplied by ATT and the cable companies and you can only tinker in very small ways. Document any changes you make on paper, so you can put the settings back later. If you don't you will incur the cost of the repairman from the internet company and its no fun.

  6. Anonymous
    June 16, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    Have read when using a dual band router that disabling the lower speed band ( b and g ) and using an older router for the slower protocols makes the newer router work better...is that so? How do you make 2 wireless routers work together? Thanks

  7. Anonymous
    June 15, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    When assigning a channel, remember that there are NOT 11 (USA and often default) or 13 (EU) usable channels.

    Being 1 channel away from a signal that is not trivially low, is worse than being on the same channel - on the same channel, collision avoidance occurs, while on a close channel, interference results.

    Perfectly clear means 4 away, 3 is an acceptable compromise, but 1 or 2 is inadvisable.

    The problem in the 13 channel EU is that most devices default to 1, 6 or 11 instead of the more sensible 1, 5, 9, 13 (which also gives space for TWO 40MHz pairs - assuming some twit doesn't use 5+9).

    If you have strong adjacent signals on 11, 13 may not be far enough away to be an improvement.

    Another issue is video senders, which use the same band and will not be detected in a wifi scan - they typically identify channels as A, B, C, D which would roughly align with 1, 5, 9, 13

    • Bryan Clark
      June 16, 2015 at 12:08 am

      Good to know. Thanks for taking the time to explain that to us!

  8. Anonymous
    June 15, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Done all of the above and still no improvement. Except the antenna.
    Netgear WNDR 3700v1 DD-WRT FW v24sp2 build 27240
    Obviously cannot attach antennas.

    Wireless mode AP
    Wireless Network Mode Mixed (Since BG-NG or N only gives problems)
    Channel Width Wide HT40 20+20 MHz
    Channel 13(2472MHz) which is the least crowded
    Tx Power 22dBm
    Antenna gain 0dBi
    Tx & Rx Chains 1+2
    Sensitivity Range (ACK Timing) 2500

    Planning to get an Asus router cum extender

    Still face low speed and connection drops

    • Bryan Clark
      June 16, 2015 at 12:09 am

      There's a lot of factors at play and if none of these helped you then it could be an issue with the ISP, or you may have a router problem. Not sure... way too much to consider.

  9. Anonymous
    June 13, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    OK I'll update the firmware when I get home. Then I'll look at boosting signal strength.

    As far as overheating, I just mentioned that to save anyone the time from asking.

    It was overheating a few years ago, but raising it up off the ground got rid of that problem.

  10. Anonymous
    June 12, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    OK Let's do a "Router Speed for Dummies" session. I use OpenDNS, have set up a WPA2 password, and have placed my router several inches above the ground, where it rarely overheats.

    Which step would be the most likely thing to increase speed? I've never even thought of the different letters for different wireless protocols. I've heard about open source router firmware but have never had a problem with the native client.

    Given that I don't have a problem ATM, I'd rather not spend a few hours in a wild goose chase. Is there one extra tweak that would be most likely to give me a boost?

    • Anonymous
      June 13, 2015 at 5:37 am

      If your router is overheating at all, then that's an issue for both sustainability and slows any router down. I'd make sure your router is well ventilated and functioning properly. (The latter will take more effort.) Electronics likes to be cool. Raising your router up higher will likely be the easiest thing to do to improve it's performance with regards to speed. Mine, along with the cable modem is in the middle of the house, inside the HVAC cupboard which is well ventilated and on the highest shelf. If I lived in a 2 story home, it would be on the 2nd story at it's highest point and so on.

      • Bryan Clark
        June 13, 2015 at 8:02 am

        Great tips, but raising it higher isn't always the answer. It's a good general tip, but there's far too many variables to know for sure if that's going to help.

        • Anonymous
          June 15, 2015 at 8:30 pm

          I've found two things that always tend to help, either height, or power, and of course both. Either, or both will further the reach of the router. A better way to put it is more ways to provide access for the remote devices and vice versa. (The obvious reason why Cell towers and radio stations put their antennae up high.) With the information given, including the router was "several inches above the ground", the question was one quick tweak, the first easy obvious thing is raising the router, which should help anyone that has their equipment lower than it could be. I tried to include info regarding it overheating, as you did. Hopefully this person will heed our warnings.

    • Bryan Clark
      June 13, 2015 at 8:00 am

      All of these tips are helpful, and could help you to increase speed. The only one that's actually time consuming would be heatmapping your house, so you are obviously free to skip that.

      It's really impossible to answer without knowing the particulars. Nearly every tip on here takes a few minutes at most, so you should give a few a try, or go through the whole list.

      -But- if I'm forced to answer without knowing any specifics of your setup, I can tell you that uploading your firmware and tweaking the settings a bit (particularly, boosting the signal strength) is probably the best "bang for your buck" quick fix for added speeds. That said, it really depends on a lot of factors, and I'm not aware of all the particulars, so your mileage may vary.

    • Bryan Clark
      June 13, 2015 at 8:01 am

      Also, it's important to note that if your router is overheating, it's causing efficiency issues and probably needs replaced. I'd start there.

  11. Anonymous
    June 12, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    "Disable Older Wireless Protocols"
    Doesn't that force you to get new wireless cards for your PCs?

    • Anonymous
      June 13, 2015 at 5:50 am

      The 'B' protocol is the oldest and slowest of all. Unless you have some really old equipment, by that I mean approximately10 years or older, then you can probably drop that one. The 'G' protocol is also older and some of your equipment, or printers, etc. may still use that. Many routers have where you can select which protocols to use in combinations, such as choosing 'AC, N and G' will allow only devices with those protocols, B would be dropped, or selecting 'AC and N' only would drop G and B protocols. That way you can choose to drop only what you don't need. Same works for routers such as N routers and so forth. Easy enough to check with your model numbers of your equipment online to see what protocol each device is uses. That way you shouldn't need to change any actual hardware until you're ready. If you miss something, it's easy enough to add back any, or all of the protocols. Test it and find out, you can always put it back. :)

    • Bryan Clark
      June 13, 2015 at 8:06 am

      If your PC uses a wireless card that still uses (for example) "B," then it should be well past the point of replacement anyway. It shouldn't cause any issues, but it's worth looking at because even occasionally connecting old devices (say, those that use "G") can slow down your entire network. It's better to just disable them.

      Like Laird says, if you find that you really need it, you can always add it back in your router settings.