These days, if you have an internet connection in your home, it is also highly likely that you’re using a wireless router to access the web. Wireless internet is convenient, and nowadays it’s pretty darned fast too. However, Wi-Fi is not without its problems, and if your wireless network is in need of a few tweaks check out our list.
5. Improve Signal with Better Placement
There are other ways to get better coverage, and we’ll get to those, but instead of rushing out to get strips of wire and aluminum foil it could be just as easy to move your router to a more central location.
4. Extend Signal with a Repeater or a Bridge
- Place your router somewhere central. If you have a second floor or someplace high, use it. The radio waves broadcast by your router travel best laterally and in a downward direction.
- Make sure there aren’t any devices that may interfere with the signal such as halogen lamps, baby monitors, microwaves, or cordless phones.
- Wi-Fi travels best when it doesn’t have to go through thick walls, metal, or mirrors.
- Most routers start at a default channel (probably 6). Change it up so your neighbors’ devices aren’t competing.
Most homes aren’t big enough to need a repeater, but people with devices in basements and/or attics might need a little extra boost. If you do need better signal, and placement isn’t working, get yourself one of these bad boys
. They usually range from $40-$100, and they should solve most of your signal strength issues. There are also ways to hack your existing router into a repeater
Another option for people that have wired devices too far away from the router is to get a bridge
. These convert your wireless signal into a wired connection, and go for around $50-$60.
If none of these options work, maybe it’s time to break out the foil
3. Secure with WPA Encryption
Now that you know how to get the best signal possible, you need to keep those pesky data moochers out. Wi-Fi security is typically not very secure, but if you make your access point just a little harder to get into, those evil web trolls will probably move on.
Not good enough
WEP is usually the default on router encryption, but if your router comes with a setup disk or if you’d rather just go to the admin page, you can change it to WPA. WPA is less easy to crack than WEP. If you’re really worried about security make sure your passphrase is long and meaningless. The best password is the one you can’t remember… but do remember to write it down.
2. Limit MAC Addresses
You can also prevent strangers and unwanted guests from using your access point by telling your router which devices are allowed to connect. A MAC (Media Access Control) address is like a fingerprint for your networked devices. They’re unique to each device, and you should be able to configure your router to grant permission to only certain ones, namely yours.
1. Hide Your Network
If Independence Day has taught us anything, it's KEEP THAT NETWORK RESTRICTED!
It’s like having an invisible cloak for your home network. Through your router’s admin page, you can turn off “SSID broadcasting.” This will prevent normal computers from listing your access point as a detected option. Now, this could prove problematic when you can’t find your own access point, so before you do this, download NetStumbler
for Windows or MacStumbler
for OS X. These are the Predator infrared goggles for hidden wireless networks. Both are free.
Harry! What happened to my Wi-Fi?
Are taking all of these steps going to guarantee your Wi-Fi is safe? No, but internet intruders are a lot like car thieves. The longer it takes, the faster they lose interest. These tips should be fine for anybody that isn’t storing information regarding national security or transferring millions of dollars into Cayman Island bank accounts. If those last two things do apply, then you’ve probably got bigger problems to worry about.