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All routers are limited as to how far their signal will reach. The farther you get from the source the less reliable of a connection you will have. Whether you are using a public Wi-Fi hot spot or your home network, extending your wireless card's reach will add flexibility, reliability and perhaps some speed as well.
If you are using a home network you should first make the best out of the situation you have before you extend the range of your wireless card. Doing this will minimize or possibly eliminate your need to extend your wireless card's range.
If at all possible try to place your router in a central location. Do not put the router on the floor. Put the router on top of a shelf or cabinet and away from walls or metal objects that will obstruct the signal. You may also consider adding a wireless repeater to boost your router's signal. Upgrading your router to a faster technology should also be evaluated from time to time. You may also want to update the firmware in your router. Third party firmware (http://www.polarcloud.com/tomato) is available for some routers that will extend the reach but that may void the warranty. Adding a high gain or directional antenna will also help better utilize your router, especially if your router is not in a central location. All of these things will help you best utilize your existing network signal.
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The network card
Go into the Control Panel and click on the Network connections. Find you wireless connection, select it and right click on "Properties." Look for any power settings that limit your wireless adapter to save power and change the setting to full capacity to extend your reach. Only some wireless adapters will have this.
Consider replacing your wireless network card with a better piece of hardware. You will always be limited by low quality equipment and sometimes even high quality equipment is limited. External USB network adapters are easy to install by just plugging in and will be located in a better place to get a signal. Some USB adapters also come with good external antennas to help extend your reach. If you have a built in wireless adapter you should be able to disable it in Windows or in the BIOS. Even if you can't you may be just fine using two wireless network adapters. You should only try to connect with one adapter at a time though or you may slow down your speed. Some wireless cards have an antenna you can disconnect and adding a stronger antenna is the best and pretty much only thing you can do to extend your wireless card's reach without replacing it.