Google+ Tips & Tricks Blog: How to Improve Wi-Fi Reception

Sunday, 31 March 2013

How to Improve Wi-Fi Reception

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This post is taken from

Part One: Improving WiFi Reception at Home
  1. Put large furniture along the exterior walls of your home. Signals that don't have to travel through large, cumbersome furniture will make reception better.

  2. Minimize mirrors. All metallic surfaces reflect WiFi signals, including the thin metal layer found in most mirrors.

  1. Place your router to maximize effectiveness. Where you place your router has a lot to do with how it performs. When placing a router, consider putting it:

    • Near the center of the house, on a top floor. Radio waves best travel down and laterally.
    • Off the floor, ideally on a wall mount or high shelf.
    • As far as possible from your neighbor's WiFi router (which, of course, you've made sure is using a different channel).
    • Away from cordless phones and microwaves, which operate on the same 2.4-Ghz frequency. (There are some cordless phones that are WiFi friendly).
    • Away from power cords, computer wires, microwaves, baby monitors, and halogen lamps. These wires and waves can interfere with radio reception.
  2. Make your reception even bigger with a repeater or a wireless bridge. If your office is inconveniently far from your wireless access point, and you find yourself stretching to the edge of the room to get better reception, install a wireless signal repeater. Wireless repeater extend your coverage without the need for more wires or hassle. Place your repeater halfway between your access point and your computer for an instant boost.

    • A wireless bridge (also called an Ethernet converter) is used to get better reception for wired devices. If you're having trouble getting reception on your wired devices, try the Ethernet converter for a few extra bars.
  3. Change from WEP to WPA/WPA2. WEP and WPA/WPA2 are security algorithms that keep hackers from breaking into your network. The only problem is that WEP ("Wired Equivalent Privacy") is a lot less secure than WPA/WPA2 ("Wireless Protected Access"). So if you're still running your internet through WEP instead of WPA/WPA2, consider changing so that unwanted forces don't break into your network.

  4. Limit the number of devices your WiFi will support with MAC addresses. The fewer devices your network has to support, the stronger speed you get out of it. (Usually.) Limit the number of devices can access your network by creating a device access list of MAC addresses. A MAC address is a "Media Access Control" identifier for devices that you and your family use.
    Create a device access list of MAC addresses by first finding your devices MAC addresses, and then by going to your access point's configuration screen and setting which addresses get the green light.

  5. Don't publicize your network's name. If you don't want other people from potentially mooching off of your signal, don't let them know it's there in the first place. (It is possible for software to locate "hidden" networks, but the point still stands.) Go to your access point's admin page and uncheck "Enable SSID Broadcast." You can still access your network, of course, but it won't be discoverable when a computer is looking at the list of available networks.

Part Two: Traveling
  1. Set the adapter settings to maximize coverage (i.e, Power Mgmt. to Maximum, Transmit Power to Maximum, and Throughput Enhancement to Enabled).

  2. Turn off your adapter if no WiFi can be found anywhere. When you reach a town, turn it back on. You will seem to find WiFi everywhere. Whether or not you can access it will be another thing.

Tips Thumbs up

  • If all else fails, you can look into purchasing a WiFi repeater, which is a piece of hardware you can use to boost the signal between the router and your device.
  • The addition of a "high gain" (higher dBi) external antenna will often provide increased reception signal and performance. Note that a higher dBi increases the signal horizontally, but decreases vertically. If you need to cover several floors, a higher dBi will probably not help. In this case, you might consider buying a Wi-Fi amplifier, which will boost your signal.
  • The computer case itself can be a significant barrier to the Wi-Fi signal - try positioning the case so it doesn't come between the network card and router antennas.
  • Reflectors can also be used to good advantage. Use NetStumbler to tune your placement of the reflector. Compact disks can be used, as can anything that actually looks like a parabolic reflector. The reflector, of course, should be placed behind the receiving device or antenna. Large increases in signal strength can be expected. This trick also works with cellphones.
  • If you still need more range, consider upgrading your wireless standard, up to Wireless N or Wireless G with MIMO. These two technologies will greatly increase the range of a formerly 802.11g or 802.11b network.
  • Depending on your brand and model of wireless router, you may be able to replace the built in software with a replacement open source solution that adds much more capabilities and the option to increase the power to your wireless antenna.

Warnings Ghost

  • If you turn the power up too high on a modified wireless router it may suffer permanent damage.
  • If you replace your router's firmware, it may void your warranty. If not done properly it can damage your router irreparably.

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