How Do I Set Up My In-Home Wi-Fi to Maximize Range and Speed?

There is a lot you can do to improve your Internet speeds, including placing your router in a central space and reducing the amount of interference from other devices and appliances. Doing regular checkups on connectivity, the condition of your router, and making sure you aren't a victim of Wi-Fi thieves is also important.

The best way to save money on your home Internet is to learn how to maximize the range and speed of your Wi-Fi. Good Wi-Fi management ensures that every member of your family can access the online content and services they wish. It can also reduce the amount of money you have to spend on Internet each month, as you'll be able to make the most of the speeds offered by your provider.

Get the Right Package

Efforts to maximize range and speed are only as successful as the actual amount of bandwidth available to your home. Unfortunately, many consumers don't understand this and end up purchasing more, or less, bandwidth than they actually need.

How do you determine what you need? Consider how many devices in your home operate at the same time, and then consider what you and other family members plan to do with your devices. This can get tricky when you add in all the connected devices in your home, which may include:

  • Computers
  • Tablets
  • Phones
  • Smartwatches
  • Fitness trackers
  • Smart devices such as TVs, scales, security systems, speakers

If you have a household with a couple of laptops and phones and spend most of your time online emailing, shopping, or checking social media , 25 Mbps is the most you'll probably need. However, if you, or someone else in your home, does a fair amount of streaming or gaming 50-100 Mbps plans are a good idea.

Do you have a lot of devices in your household? You are likely going to have to pay for a more substantial plan, one that offers 150-200 Mbps. Some providers also offer gigabit plans, which may be overkill, but might also suit a highly-connected family, particularly if family members work from home or attend classes over streaming video connections.

Tip: When in doubt, start with the smaller, less expensive plan and try the tips for maximizing your connectivity below. You can always upgrade to more bandwidth if you need it. Many people report that trying to switch to a less-expensive plan can be a real hassle. You can avoid this hassle by choosing the plan with less speed first.

Place Your Router in a Central Location

Experts recommend placing your router in a central room of your home. You should also place it where there is minimal interference from electronics, walls, or other pieces of furniture. Sadly, this is often easier said than done: Many technicians install your router near a wall because that's where the connection is. However, it is worth it to reposition the router and to place it as high up as possible (the top of a bookcase might do nicely), to help avoid barriers that might slow your speeds down.

If you live in a large, multi-story home, you may also want to consider getting a mesh network. This is a system that allows you to place devices that act as routers throughout your living space. Mesh networks help to ensure efficiency and consistent speeds for everyone.

Purchase Wi-Fi Extenders

A less expensive option than a mesh network is the use of Wi-Fi extenders. These devices plug into outlets and extend the range of your existing Wi-Fi service. The quality is not as reliable as with mesh networks, but extenders are often a good option if you are living in a large, one-story space or simply want to boost connectivity without breaking the bank.

Make Your Wi-Fi Hard to Hack

Sadly, some Wi-Fi speed problems are caused by neighbors and others who find a way to hack into your Wi-Fi network. You can nip this sort of thing in the bud by choosing a difficult-to-guess password and restricting who is allowed to use your Wi-Fi while visiting. It is often possible to set up a Guest Wi-Fi network that can be used by friends and family who come to visit.

Troubleshooting

If you are already troubled by low speeds, do some investigating. While it might be that you will have to upgrade your service or invest in extenders or a mesh network, there are several reasons for slow Internet that can be remedied quickly and at minimal cost.

Check Your Level of Service

How long has it been since you checked your Internet package? It's easy to order Internet and forget what you've actually purchased. Get online and check your account status with your provider. You may realize that your package doesn't meet your current needs.

The other thing that you need to do is a speed test: Many Internet service providers offer speed tests for free through their websites. Try the speed test first through a device that is plugged into your router using an ethernet cable. Then try the test again via Wi-Fi. If the ethernet cable test shows slower speeds than what you are paying for, contact your Internet company and talk to tech support about your speed issues.

Check Your Router

Slow speeds can be caused by old or malfunctioning routers. If you are renting your router from your Internet provider, check with your provider to see if it can be swapped out for a new one. If the router is one that you bought yourself, and it is more than a few years old, it may be time to replace it.

How Many Devices Do You Have?

As noted above, this can be a tough thing to figure out, as many consumer products are connected to Wi-Fi networks. Still, take some time to go over the connected devices in your home. Talk to family members as well. You may be overtaxing your system.

Tip: If you have a gamer in your home, you may need to get him or her to play while hardwired to your connection. Many experts believe that, for now, this is the best way to play games with others. Games simply demand a lot of bandwidth.

Electronic Interference

Is your Internet slow some of the time, but not all the time? Your Wi-Fi may be competing with your microwave or other electronics. Placing your router up high and away from interfering consumer appliances may remedy the situation.

Wi-Fi Thieves

Neighbors and others may be stealing your Wi-Fi. Your provider may allow you to check connected devices through your online account or a mobile app. If you don't recognize some of the devices connected to your Wi-Fi, investigate. If you still can't identify them, change your password.

In fact, you should be changing your Wi-Fi password periodically as a preventative measure. While this can be a bit of an annoyance, it can protect your bandwidth as well as the security of your household data.

Request a Technician Call

If nothing suggested above works, request a technician call. The cost of a technician appointment may be far less than what you'll have to pay in monthly fees for a new package with higher speeds. Even if the technician can't identify or resolve a problem that affects your speeds, he or she can still review your connection and equipment so that you know that the rest of your system is working correctly.

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