by Ben Greenwood, founder and editor of TechDrink. There's almost nothing more annoying than slow speeds, lagging and buffering - especially if you're gaming or streaming. And Ben Greenwood from tech blog TechDrink agrees. In fact, he's guest blogging for us today about his bugbear - wireless routers - and how to improve your home's wireless connectivity. Just read on and let us know what you make of his post … Super-fast broadband is a reality for most people these days, with many households enjoying speeds of at least 20Mb and some as much as 120Mb and upwards. Those speeds are only going to get faster as technology improves, but all too often people are let down by their wireless connectivity. It's all well and good having the fastest broadband available to you but it's really of very little use if you have to remain close to your wireless router to enjoy it. This is of particular annoyance to gamers and those who enjoy streaming movies and music to portable devices like laptops, tablets and even smartphones. There are, however, some key things you can do to increase the range of your wireless router so you can enjoy the full benefits of your super-fast broadband from any room in your house and even your garden.
It's common practice to hide your wireless router from view. Unfortunately, this also restricts the range of the thing. Tucking the hardware behind the TV, sofa or bookcase might keep your living room looking nice, but when you wander upstairs with your laptop or tablet and realise that your signal strength has dropped or your connection has been severed completely, the aesthetics of your home will not seem so important. Instead of hiding your router, place it in a prominent position. It doesn't have to be in the centre of your living room floor, but it does need to be unrestricted by things around it. Try high up on a book shelf, on an end table or even on your mantelpiece. Placing it on a windowsill may seem like a good idea too, but your router could receive interference from other wireless networks in your street. By all means give it a go, but be aware that if you don't get the boost in connectivity you were hoping for, that could be the reason. Other potential causes of interference include microwaves, cordless phones, security alarms and even baby monitors. Take all these into account too!
Wireless routers can operate on one of eleven channels. The one that you're on might not be the best one for your area, so try using some of the other channels until you get the best one in terms of connectivity and range. This may also help you to get round issues with interference from other wireless networks in your area. Switching channels isn't a hugely technical operation, but refer to the user manuals that came with your router to ensure that you don't make any mistakes.
Use Additional Hardware
Using extra hardware with your router can help to boost your WiFi's range and connectivity significantly. The types of hardware you can use include: Wireless Repeater - this will pick up the WiFi signal from your router and boost it to increase its range. Repeaters are becoming more affordable and should provide a solution to your problem. Of course, it's another piece of hardware to find a home for and you'll need to take the same factors into consideration when finding a place for a wireless repeater as you will when looking for somewhere to put your router. Antenna Replacement - if your router allows it, you can unscrew the existing antenna and replace it with a better one to increase the power of your WiFi signal. This can boost speed and range too, although not by nearly as much as using a wireless repeater will.
Upgrade Your Router
While the routers supplied by ISPs do the job nicely for most homes, those requiring a bit more in terms of power and range could consider replacing their router with a more powerful version. The likes of Buffalo Technology, TP Link and Netgear provide more powerful wireless routers than the standard versions given to you when you have your broadband installed and you can get these routers from most computer stores. They can be relatively expensive but they do provide a long term solution and will ensure that you can connect to your wireless network from any room in the house or even your garden!
Don’t rely on Wireless
It may sound daft (and contradicts the title of this article somewhat) but a wired connection is almost always going to out-perform a wireless one, and will be far less susceptible to packet loss, latency and reductions in speed. Don’t be fooled into thinking this means you need to traipse ugly cat-5 cable all over your house either. Powerline/HomePlug adapters are a reasonably priced alternative that let you use the electrical wiring in your house to create a network. Using this network you can connect devices in separate rooms just by connecting them to a nearby Powerline adapter using a short length of cat-5 cable. Make sure you do your research though. Powerline adapters will only work on the same ‘phase’ and are still susceptible to speed deterioration the further apart the two adapters are. If you’re wanting to take full advantage of the speeds fibre optic broadband has to offer then it’s recommended you buy Powerline adapters with an advertised throughput of at least 200Mbps. If you've any wi-fi optimisation tips of your own then please share them with us by leaving a comment below ...This blog post was written by Ben Greenwood - the founder and editor of TechDrink, a technology and social media news and opinion blog based in the UK. For more tips on improving your wireless signal, take a look at our Help & Support pages.