How to Increase Wireless Receiver Signal Strength

By Nathan McGinty

The wireless networking revolution has put computers everywhere -- in coffee shops, bars and even fast food restaurants. A wireless connection consists of two separate components: a broadcasting device and a receiver. The receiver is installed in wireless-capable laptops and desktop computers. These receivers have antennas that pick up the wireless signal from the broadcasting device. Increasing the wireless receiver signal strength is possible with a few simple tips.

Things You'll Need

  • High-gain antenna
  • Internet connection

Step 1

Update the drivers for your wireless receiver card. Navigate to the "Control Panel" (Windows) or "System Preferences" (Mac) and locate the Network Information section. Click on your wireless card and make a note of the manufacturer. Also, note the release version of the driver software, if this information is displayed. Go to the manufacturer's website and download the latest drivers for your card. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation. You may need to reboot when finished.

Step 2

Move the wireless broadcast unit to a centralized location. If you have a wireless router, for example, place the device in the middle of your house or apartment.

Step 3

Install a high-gain antenna. The standard antennas that come with wireless cards in laptops and desktops are omni-directional. That means they broadcast equally in all directions. If your router is set in a fixed location in your home or office, you know exactly where the signal is originating. You can purchase external antennas to connect to your wireless receiver that will boost the signal strength.

Step 4

Upgrade your wireless receiver. Older networks used the 802.11b wireless standard. Newer standards such as 802.11g are at least four times faster. In addition, the 802.11g protocol is backward compatible with older 802.11b wireless devices.

Step 5

Change the settings on your wireless receiver. This can be done through either the Control Panel (Windows) or System Settings (Mac). In the Properties panel for your wireless receiver, look for a "Roaming Aggressiveness" setting and change to the highest setting.

Step 6

Update the firmware on your wireless broadcast station. Go to the manufacturer's website, download the latest drivers and install them according to the instructions. Reboot the router when finished.

Tips & Warnings

  • When updating router settings and firmware, always do this over a wired connection. If you are trying to do it wirelessly and something goes wrong, your access to the router will be cut off and your computer could lock up.