The degree to which we rely on the internet for everything from work to entertainment means sluggish Wi-Fi speeds are excruciating. Here are some common causes of Wi-Fi issues and what to do about them.
1. Outdated Wi-Fi Routers Impact Performance
Everybody hates spending money, and it’s frustrating to replace functional, albeit underperforming, hardware. But the reality is Wi-Fi hardware has advanced pretty consistently over the years.
If you’re still using an old router you picked up at Best Buy ten years ago or the lackluster Wi-Fi router built into the router/cable modem combo unit your ISP gave you, you’re not going to have a great time. Further, while some of the tips below might help you if you have an old Wi-Fi router, there’s no replacement for biting the bullet and buying a new one. TP-Link Archer AX10 AX1500 Wi-Fi 6 Router with parental control.
2. Poor Router Placement Dampens Signal Strength
The only thing worse than having an old Wi-Fi router is parking your Wi-Fi router in a terrible location—and if you have both an old and poorly placed outer, you’re going to have a really bad time.
Moving your Wi-Fi router is an easy fix. Just be sure to place it where the signal is most central to your daily activities and avoid placing it near Wi-Fi blocking things.
3. Too Many Devices Bog Underpowered Hardware Down
One of the biggest advantages of newer Wi-Fi hardware isn’t just the improved speeds that come with each new Wi-Fi generation but an overall increase in power and the number of devices the Wi-Fi router can handle.
Even if you’re not chasing performance benchmarks to show off your new 2Gbps fiber line, you’ll benefit from a newer Wi-Fi router if you have a plethora of devices in your home.
We want to emphasise that it’s the number of devices and not the number of users that you want to focus on. Increasingly devices, even when they aren’t in use, have a fairly high bandwidth overhead and place demands on your network you might not expect.
Cloud-based security cameras use a lot of bandwidth, as do a variety of other smart home devices—you’d be surprised how many bandwidth vampires there are around your home. People think about heavy bandwidth use when worrying about blowing through their data cap, but all those devices using the bandwidth are also usually using Wi-Fi too.
Add up all the computers, tablets, smartphones, consoles, streaming devices, smart TVs, smart home accessories, and more found in a modern home, and you’re looking at a list that easily brushes up to or exceeds the capacity of older routers.
While we’re talking about too many devices on your Wi-Fi network, we’d encourage you think about taking devices off your Wi-Fi network. No, we don’t mean living a life with an Xbox or smart TV fully disconnected from the internet—we mean switching any devices you can over to Ethernet to free up airspace for your remaining Wi-Fi devices.
4. Old Hardware and Cables Reduce Speed
This one is really easy to overlook if you’re not much of a networking nerd. While the Wi-Fi router itself and the Wi-Fi capabilities of the endpoint devices like your smartphone or smart TV are a huge part of the Wi-Fi performance puzzle, you don’t want to neglect the simple physical bits that tie your network together.
If you have outdated Cat5 cables or an outdated 10/100 network switch mixed in with the network hardware you’re unwittingly hobbling your network speeds.
For folks with slower sub-100Mbps broadband, you may never notice that old switch screwing up your performance, but if you have faster broadband, those old cables and hardware will reduce your maximum potential speed.
5. Channel Congestion Dings Wi-Fi Performance
Wi-Fi channel congestion occurs when multiple Wi-Fi devices are using the same frequency, or channel, in the same air space.
This is more of an issue for devices on the 2.4Ghz band than on the 5Ghz band, but you should pay attention to it regardless if you live in an apartment or densely packed neighborhood. You’ll need to identify which channels are the most congested and refer to the documentation for your particular router to change to less congested channels.
6. Wi-Fi Extenders Increase Reach, But Decrease Speed
If you’ve struggled with Wi-Fi issues like slow speeds or lackluster coverage, there’s a good chance you’ve considered using a Wi-Fi extender and possibly have one in your home right now.
Despite their popularity, from a sales standpoint, Wi-Fi extenders have a bit of a bad reputation when it comes to actual network performance. While they can certainly extend the reach of your network when properly deployed, they can also introduce a lot of network congestion, latency, and reduced speeds. Try WiFi Mesh System