Anthony is an IT Systems Specialist for a government agency. He is also a fitness enthusiast, sci-fi nerd, and hobby collector.
Fixing Slow WiFi
Slow WiFi is the absolute worst! Especially when you are paying $50 to $100 per month for “blazing fast internet.” There are many reasons why your WiFi may seem slow on certain devices or in certain parts of your home or apartment.
The following fixes should be done one at a time, and you should run a speed test after fixes to determine if you are improving or hurting your connection. I suggest using Speedtest and selecting a server close to you before starting the test. These tests can be run on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Testing all three would be the most thorough and best scale of how your wireless network is performing.
Here are some great fixes and products to help get the speed you are paying for!
1. Pick Up a New Router
Replacing the 3 year old router that came with your internet service is always a good place to start. This can actually increase your WiFi speed tremendously depending on the wireless transfer speed of the old router. Sometimes you will have a modem/router device, in that situation you will want to request a modem replacement and tell your ISP you are supplying your own router.Some ISP hardware is very solid and great quality but occasionally you will get refurbished routers with wireless issues. Supplying your own router is always a good choice.
I personally have had great success with the TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router. The setup is seamless and user friendly. It also includes a companion app for your smart phone to assist with the setup process or to make quick adjustments to the configuration.
2. Centralize the Location of Your Router or Buy an Extender
It is not always possible to have the router in a central part of your home or apartment. However, for the best WiFi coverage, a central location is best. For most people, the internet modem and router always seems to be at one end of the house which can cause poor connection issues for the other end.
A Wireless Extender can help with this issue by extending the existing WiFi signal further and helping to prevent any poor connection areas. A WiFi extender will not increase the speed of your original router, but simply extend the signal strength further throughout the home so everyone gets a good connection speed.
I have used the TP-Link | AC750 WiFi Extender several times for many clients. It works seamlessly with your current network and makes extending your WiFi range easy.
3. Change Frequencies on Your Router
Most routers will have a configuration page you can access with the instructions provided in the box. Typically you will use an IP address in your web browser to access the router. Once you have logged in to the router with the included information, you can navigate to the Wireless Settings menu. Here you can change the name of your WiFi as well as adjust the Channel and Channel Width Frequencies. Channel Width is a simple option change, and you typically have 20, 40, or 80mhz to choose from. The thing to remember about Channel Width is that it does not play well in crowded wireless environments like apartment buildings. Setting it higher is beneficial to new devices for max speed, but the lower options can have better reliability overall.
To fine-tune your connection, you can change your channels on the 2.4ghz or 5ghz one at a time, save, and let your router reboot. Check the speed on a computer or mobile device after each change to determine the best channels for your 2.4ghz and 5ghz options. 5ghz is going to provide the most speed with shorter range, so it will be best for your high priority streaming or gaming devices. 2.4ghz has better range, so it will be better suited for devices that are further away from the router. Some devices can only use 2.4ghz so it is wise to take this into account when buying new hardware to connect to your router, as the connection will be much slower than 5ghz.
4. Setting the Security Mode on Your Router
This is probably the easiest and most overlooked way to increase your WiFi speed. Routers are not always defaulted to the correct security mode to allow for wireless-n or wireless-ac speeds. This can cause slow wireless speeds to every device. In order to take advantage of the fastest WiFi speed your router is capable of, you will need to set your security to WPA2. WPA2 will allow for optimal network performance while enhancing WiFi security. There are some older legacy devices that can not connect to WPA2, so keep that in mind if you have any 10+-year-old tablets or laptops hanging around.
5. Add a Second Router to Increase WiFi Coverage
Another method that I personally use is referred to as Cascading Routers. You basically run an Ethernet cable from your primary router and plug it into a numbered port on a second router. You set the second routers IP address to be in the same range as the primary router like this example:
This will allow the second router to extend WiFi coverage further and also let devices connected to either router communicate to one another. The only advanced change that has to be made in this type of setup is turning off DHCP on the secondary router under its Local Network settings. This will allow the primary router to do all the leg work with issuing IP addresses to devices that connect to either router.
You will need to configure the IP address for the secondary router prior to connecting it to the primary router. You can do this by plugging a network cable from your computer into the secondary router and opening its configuration page IP address in your web browser. Once the IP address is set and DHCP turned off, you can unplug the secondary router and place it where you want it to be set up, probably a central location a good ways away from your primary router. Run a long Ethernet cable along the wall, ceiling, or in the attic to connect the two routers.
Once connected, power on the secondary router. You can now setup the WiFi settings for the secondary router by accessing its router configuration page from any computer connected to your network. Set the WiFi name to the same thing as your primary router WiFi or to anything you want. You will need to adjust the frequencies on the second router as laid out in step 3. Since you now have two sources emitting wireless signals, they need to be on separate frequencies to play nice with one another.
This method can merit great results if done properly. The internet speeds from the primary router to the secondary will degrade only slightly, and you can extend the great WiFi speeds throughout the home very efficiently. This is a great way to go if you have smart home connected devices throughout the home that all require constant connectivity.
Here is a great resource on any assistance you might need if you get stuck attempting this. https://www.linksys.com/us/support-article?articleNum=132275
Choose any of these methods based on your current hardware setup and give them a try. Sometimes slow WiFi cant be completely fixed, but it can be improved. As always, if all else fails, unplug all your network equipment for a few minutes and plug it all back in. People tend to forget, that all the information running through Modems and Routers can eventually bog them down. A good reset is a great remedy.
As always, please leave any questions in the comments. I am happy to answer tech questions related to this topic and give any advice to assist with your issue!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2019 Anthony