How to Boost the Strength of a Wi-Fi Signal

By Michael Staton

Your Web surfing is choppy at best, your online videos "kind of" stream, and you could listen to an album in the time it takes to download one song. These can be frustrating problems, but if you have determined that the signal strength of your wireless connection is to blame, there is hope. You can follow a few simple steps to improve your existing equipment, and there are several cost-efficient methods to improve your signal.

Step 1

Put your wireless router in a central location. According to Microsoft contributor Tony Northrup, placing your wireless router equidistant from all of the devices that use it will keep any one device from getting short-changed on signal. If devices are in an upstairs office and the router is downstairs, mount the router close to the ceiling in a central, ground-level room.

Step 2

Update your wireless router's firmware. Companies that manufacture routers will occasionally make improvements to their services, so be sure to check the router company's website for updates.

Step 3

Attach a new antenna to your router. Not all routers have detachable antennas, but if your router does, you can purchase a "high gain" Wi-Fi antenna that will boost your signal.

Step 4

Use a Wi-Fi repeater. These devices act as a go-between for routers and your devices. If you have thick walls or interference in your home, a repeater can be used to pick up the signal from your router and pass it on to the rest of your home. Repeaters are also a great option for larger homes with several wireless devices.

Step 5

Purchase a wireless adapter. These adapters use your USB port to boost wireless signals. The drawbacks are that you must use one of your USB ports for the adapter and that you must continue to update yet another computer accessory.

Tips & Warnings

  • According to Northrup, using a modem, router and/or network adapter from a single vendor can greatly increase your wireless signal. Most routers, modems and adapters will work together regardless of who makes them, but using the same brand for each item can improve performance.
  • Never underestimate the power of wireless interference. Everything from a cordless phone to a baby monitor can interrupt your wireless signal. Wireless interference may be your only real problem, so consider these potential interruptions before you drop hundreds of dollars on a new antenna, repeater or router.