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How to Strengthen a Wi-Fi Router's Signal

written by: Sheila Robinson•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 6/15/2011

Using a Wi-Fi network can give you a lot of flexibility when using your computer. However, a weak signal can disrupt your work and cause frustration. You may be wondering how boosting the reliable range of your router can be accomplished.

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    How to Find Signal Interference Problems

    How do i boost my wireless router signal? Since you cannot see wireless signals, it can be confusing on how to improve them. Don’t panic. The first thing you should do is check for anything that could be interfering with it. Many cell phones and microwaves utilize 2.4 GHz, which is the same as wireless routers. Test to see if they are causing a problem by turning the devices off and see if it improves. If so, consider purchasing cell phones that have 5.8 GHz or 900 MHz instead. Cell phones that utilize 900MHz are most commonly identified as dual-band. Tri-band and quad band models are also available but are more expensive and used more for international travel. You may also consider buying a network analyzer that will help you find the source of your interference.

    Wireless routers can use multiple signal channels just like stations on a radio. This may be the source of some of your problems. Use the router software utility to help you analyze which channel is best for you.

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    Helpful Signal Booster Devices

    Boosting the signal for a wireless router can be improved by Installing a wireless access point (WAP) which will increase your range. Place it half way between the WAP and your computer. To make it work you will need to feed an Ethernet cable from your router to the WAP. However, this option may be a bit costly. As a cheaper alternative consider installing a wireless amplifier directly to your router. It will increase the strength of your existing signal. A bidirectional wireless router is best.

    Most routers are equipped with a standard multi-directional antenna. If possible, replace it with a high gain antenna focuses its signal in one direction.

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    Where to Place your Wireless Router

    Position your router as high as possible from the floor. Place it in the center of your house/apartment and away from walls and metal objects (such as file cabinets). Work with your computer or laptop as close to the device as you can. Consider increasing your transmit power, but be sure not to raise it to the maximum setting where it could cause damage.

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    Other Tips

    • To boost the signal for a wireless router in a large home, you may want to add a second one to help with your Wi-Fi connection.
    • Replace your computer's card-based wireless network adapter. Even if your router has a strong transmitting signal, your PC/laptop may not be receiving it very efficiently. Instead, use a USB network adapter with an external antenna.
    • Keep your network adapter drive and firmware current. For driver updates, go to the Windows update page through the Microsoft website. Current firmware can be found from the router manufacturer’s website.
    • Check the connections to your router. A cheap cable can cause more interference. Replace it with a higher quality version.
    • Purchase your router and network adapter from the same vendor.
    • Upgrade to a newer 802.11n or 802.11g router from your 802.1b router. The “b" version has been the standard up until recently.

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    Resources

    Image credit: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/svilen001 Svilen Milev