Do you sometimes notice your connection slowing down and then speeding up again? Do you have trouble opening large files, streaming videos, or uploading photos to the cloud? Your network speed may be a factor, and there is much more to it than just having a fast Internet plan. I'm going to walk you through a few things you can do to increase your network’s speed without additional equipment.
Before Changing Anything, Measure Your WIFI Network Speed
You should always start with testing your WIFI speed and signal strength before planning. This gives you a definitive metric prior to making changes to be sure you are moving toward progress. You might even want to run this test in multiple areas of your house if you are on a laptop and can work from different rooms. Typically, the closer you are to your router the better.
- You may even want to create a signal map that charts out the Internet speed of your WIFI signal as well as how many WIFI bars your device has in various areas of your house.
- You could even try multiple devices with the same tests below. This could help you better isolate the slowness to a single device.
How to Test Your WIFI Internet Speed & Signal Strength
Running an Internet Speed Test is pretty straightforward. There are a few tools that you can use to do this, such as the old tried and true speedtest.net, but now simply typing in "internet speed test" into Google search will give you a "Run Speed Test" button.
You will be given two speeds: download rate and upload rate. Your download rate is all the information going into your computer. Your upload rate is all the information coming out of your computer. More often than not, your download rate is going to be much faster than your upload rate.
Though not a perfect metric, according to HighSpeedInternet, you will want to shoot for a minimum of 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload PER PERSON who uses Internet in your home.
You can also measure your signal strength by simply connecting to the Internet with a laptop or mobile device and looking at the WIFI signal in the dashboard. The more bars, the better the signal.
You'll want to come back and test your Internet speed several times as you look for ideal placements for your router and laptop by following the next tips.
Place Your Router in a High Central Location
The location of your router affects your WIFI speed much more than you might think. You will want the signal from the router to the device(s) to be as open as possible.
Because the further you get from a WIFI signal, the weaker and spottier the signal becomes, you want this to be in a location that minimizes distance. Also, WIFI signals tend to carry further when the space is more open, so having the router off the ground should help too.
Practically speaking, if you have a two-story house, place it on the top of a high bookshelf on the first level, or on the floor of the second floor. If you have a three-story house, place it somewhere on the second floor, but make sure it’s in an inner room or away from the outer walls.
If you don't know where your router is located, which was the case when I rented an apartment that had Internet service as part of the rental package, ask your administrator (or in my case property owner). If it is in a central location, then you are fine.
If not, then ask if it can be moved. If it can't then at the very least learn exactly where it is. This information can be handy when trying to improve your signal by maneuvering objects and placement of your workspace.
Be Mindful of Objects that Cause Interference
Large objects can block a WIFI signal easily. WIFI signals tend to go through plaster walls, but not brick. They also don't travel through large appliances and water. Fish tanks, refrigerators, water heaters, ovens, microwaves (especially when on), these all interfere with WIFI signals.
Other electronics and wiring affect router WIFI signals too.
Perk Up the Antennas
Many routers have strange antennas that project from them. As visually unappealing as some of these antennas might be, it is best to open all the antennas to maximize the wireless signal.
Trial and Error
After you have made some adjustments to your physical environment, test your WIFI signal again. Or take your laptop and keep testing. As you move from room to room, see where the WIFI bars are and what the speed tests tell you about your WIFI speed. Hopefully, as you begin manipulating the placement of the router, workspace, and objects between, you’ll begin to see faster network speeds and a stronger signal.
Also, it's worth mentioning that if you are completely constrained with location of the router, home office, and large objects, the simplest equipment solutions to improve your speed may just be a HDMI cable and/or a WIFI network extender. And past that, sometimes the only options are to upgrade your Internet Service Provider plan or router entirely.
Hopefully, these tips help you to increase the speed of your home network. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. And if you are interested in learning more about home network security, check out our guide: Top 5 Steps to Securely Work from Home.