Dealing With WiFi Connection Problems

February 17, 2014
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It’s a pain in the posterior. Yesterday you were gaming like gangbusters and simultaneously downloading a Tool concert. No problem! Now it’s wheezing like a geezer with emphysema while you’re just looking at a Web page. Is your brand-new Gigabit Internet connection go-to not getting it done? Well, really, if you’re running a home network entirely on WiFi, it’s important to optimize it as much as possible.

The most logically obvious question to ask is whether it’s your Internet connection. Before submitting your WiFi to weird Frankenstein-like experiments, try attaching a computer with Gigabit Ethernet directly to your router or your modem to test your Internet connection.  Simply put, if you can’t make a half-decent connection with your GE setup you’ve seriously got issues to dwell upon, which most likely require your ISP’s attention. I suggested a Gigabit Ethernet connection to easily allow you to blame, or rule out Ethernet bottlenecks, which are common. It might also be a problem as simple as you acquiring a new device with 802.11ac wireless, but your router still only supports 802.11g. This will definitely limit your wireless performance.

WiFi Connection

Here’s a question. Are you using the latest firmware on your modem and router? “Is that important?” you ask. Is the Pope Catholic?  Updates come with fixes to software problems that you could try to fix in other ways (and probably fail). Check for updates regularly, or have your router do that for you if it can. My iMac does it instantaneously, letting me know automatically as soon as updates announce themselves. Not getting your updates leads to a slippery slope and much backsliding!

Make yourself familiar with the makeuseof site. I’m not trained in any of this stuff. I figure stuff out as I go along so that, hopefully, you don’t have to. Get up to speed vis-a-vis knowledge of what is the ideal location in your house to locate your router for maximum efficiency and other bits of info and hints concerning getting the finest possible coverage in your home. Simply put, if your signal strength is running at its maximum, your device should be able to run reliably at full speed.

A common mistake is using WiFi channels that are already occupied by other locals. There are applications available that scan for networks and show you which channels you shouldn’t use, weakening both your own signal and theirs. Always choose an unoccupied channel. You’ll hve less interference to put up with and consequently perform better. Should your WiFi speed be dropping periodically or at specific times of the day, you are either being leeched upon by a crafty, criminal neighbor or that software you’re using, or other devices on your network, is eating up your bandwidth. Should your router have a removable antenna, upgrade to a larger size that will produce a larger dB, or signal strength.

Routers default at either channel 6 or at an automatic setting. As WiFi is my bread and butter, I might be utilizing up to 10 WiFi networks at a time and finding extra channels can be difficult.  It seems self-evident, but be sure to pick a channel with the least number of networks on it for yourself, networks which have very low signal strength at your location.  Normally, however, it’s far easier and preferable to do this automatically.  It’ll be nice to know that you won’t have to check in case neighbors do some channel shuffling of their own.

Use common frequencies and technologies. All WiFi devices support a minimum 2.4 GHz 802.11g, which goes up to 54 Mbps. Set your router’s settings to these same values. Otherwise, if you choose to run a 5 GHz WiFi network up to 300+ Mbps, then only dual-band WiFi devices will be able to make connections.

Lastly, if you really do find that you have criminal neighbors leeching off you, you must prevent them from getting to your Internet connection. Make sure you have a good WPA2 encryption enabled. You can also enable MAC address filtering, where you maintain a whitelist of the MAC addresses of your WiFi devices.

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