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Expert technology tips

Article ID: 2933867 - Last Review: March 31, 2014 - Revision: 1.1

Are you having problems with your wireless network? If so, you are not alone. Many wireless networks sometimes slow down or temporarily break down. This poor performance impacts your productivity. While there is no golden rule for fixing wireless network issues, the following tips and tricks may help improve the performance of your network. 

1. Choose a central location

Central locations provide the best signal coverage across your entire building. For two-story structures, if your router or access point is on the first floor, place the router or access point high on a shelf to provide a stronger signal for devices on the second floor.

2. Move your router off the floor

Walls, floors, and metal objects can interfere and weaken your router's wireless signals. Locate your router to avoid these kinds of obstructions as best as possible.

3. Replace your router's antenna

Router antennas are usually omnidirectional, meaning they broadcast in all directions. So if you place a router near an outside wall you end up broadcasting half of your wireless signals to the outside world. Many routers, however, come with removable antennas. If you replace the omnidirectional antenna with a high-gain antenna, you can aim the router’s wireless signal in the direction you want.

4. Reduce wireless interference

The most common wireless technology, 802.11g (wireless-G), operates at a frequency of 2.4 gigahertz (GHz). Many wireless electronics such as cordless telephones, microwave ovens, baby monitors, and garage door openers use this same frequency. As a result, their signal noise could interfere with the connection between your device and router.

To reduce noise, buy cordless telephones and other devices that use the 5.8 GHz or 900 megahertz (MHz) frequencies. Because 802.11n (wireless-N) operates at both 2.4 GHz and the less frequently used 5.0 GHz frequency, these higher GHz devices may cause less network interference.

5. Replace your device wireless card-based network adapter

Wireless network signals are sent to and from your computer. Devices with built-in wireless networking typically have excellent antennas. Sometimes, however, the router can broadcast to your device, but your device can't send signals back to the router. To resolve this issue, replace your card-based wireless network adapter with a USB wireless network adapter that uses an external antenna.

6. Add a wireless repeater

Wireless repeaters are handy devices that rebroadcast a wireless signal, strengthening the signal from your router to other floors or the opposite side of a building. You can place one anywhere there's an outlet, but look for locations that are halfway between your router, modem, or access point and your device. Research these products before investing in one. Some wireless repeaters can be difficult to configure and can drag down your network's performance.

7. Change your wireless channel

Wireless routers can broadcast on several different channels. If you encounter interference, try changing the wireless router's channel through the router's configuration page, which you can usually find by opening your web browser and typing in the IP address in the address bar. You do not have to change your device's configuration, because it can automatically detect the new channel.

8. Update your firmware or network adapter driver

Router manufacturers regularly offer free updates. Sometimes, these updates can increase your router’s performance. To receive the latest firmware updates for your router, visit your router manufacturer's website.

Network adapter vendors also occasionally update the software or driver that Windows uses to communicate with your network adapter. These updates can improve performance and reliability. You can check your vendor’s website for updates or sign up for email newsletters to receive notification. 

9. Buy equipment from a single manufacturer

Although routers and network adapters from different manufacturers work together, they might perform better if produced by the same manufacturer. These improvements can be helpful if you’re using wireless-G devices to transmit over a long distance or live in an older house where thicker walls can block more of the signal.

10. Upgrade 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g devices to 802.11n

In general, when buying new equipment, purchase wireless-N technology. Although wireless-G may be the most common wireless network, wireless-N is at least two times as fast. It also has better range and stability. Wireless-N is backward compatible with 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g, meaning you can still use any wireless equipment that you already own. However, you won't see much improvement in performance until you upgrade your device or network adapter to wireless-N.


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