Slow Wi-Fi is incredibly frustrating. Have you ever tried to buy something online only to watch the website’s icon loading for what seems like forever? Even worse, the internet disconnects when you’re in the middle of a purchase and you’re charged double or lose out on some time-sensitive tickets!
The thing about Wi-Fi is it can be rather unstable and there are many factors that can affect the speed. In some cases, the Wi-Fi might show fast download speeds but issues like packet loss make the connection unreliable.
In this article, we’re going to cover some tips on how to make your Wi-Fi faster. If you pay for fast internet but your Wi-Fi isn’t delivering the speeds you expect, these steps should help squeeze out more performance. Let’s get into it!
Compare Wired vs. Wi-Fi Internet Speeds
Before you start working on your router, it’s a good idea to run through some troubleshooting steps to narrow down the problem. For starters, we recommend testing your internet speed with a wired connection to see if your modem is delivering the advertised speeds.
For example, if you pay for 100 Mbps internet, a speed test with an Ethernet cable should deliver similar results. You can use Fast.com or Speed Test by Ookla to quickly test your internet connection speed. Run the same internet speed test over your Wi-Fi and compare the results.
It’s normal for Wi-Fi speed tests to be a bit lower than on a wired connection, depending on the frequency used and several other factors. However, if the speed test is showing a shockingly low number, such as 10 Mbps or even lower on a 100 Mbps internet plan, that’s when you know you have a problem with your Wi-Fi.
How to Make Your Wi-Fi Faster: Step-by-Step Guide
Solution #1: Buy a New Router
In many cases, buying a new router will make your Wi-Fi much faster. This is because your router could be old and its processor can’t keep up with the demand, not to mention all the new wireless technologies.
Electronics break down over time and it’s not unusual for routers to break down too. Generally, it’s a good idea to replace a router every few years. While you’re at it, replacing the LAN cables is also recommended.
Most people use a router/modem combo that is provided by an internet service provider. In that case, you may need to call your internet service provider and request a technician to replace the router or at least troubleshoot it.
Even if you use one of those combo devices, you can hook up a separate router. If you’re not sure what type of router to buy, take a look at our list of recommended routers right here.
Solution #2: Move Devices to a Wired Connection
TVs, set-top boxes, consoles, and PCs, for example, can all be connected to the internet via an Ethernet cable instead of over Wi-Fi.
When multiple devices are connected to a router, the Wi-Fi bandwidth will be severely affected, especially when everyone is online at the same time. One of the easiest ways to improve your Wi-Fi speed is to connect static devices with an Ethernet cable.
Most routers, even very old models, can handle multiple connected devices. It’s only when each of those devices starts internet-heavy tasks such as streaming or downloading movies that problems start to occur.
Granted, depending on the router’s location, it might not be possible to run a LAN cable to each of these devices. However, as long as you can hook up a couple, it should reduce the workload on the router and make the Wi-Fi a little faster.
Solution #3: Change the Wi-Fi Channel
This tip is particularly helpful if you live in an apartment building where each unit has its own Wi-Fi network.
The Wi-Fi channel is the frequency your network is broadcasting on. Multiple networks using the same channel will interfere with one another. Most modern routers will automatically scan for the best Wi-Fi channel but not all routers support that feature.
A handy way to find the best Wi-Fi channel is to use an app. Wi-Fi Analyzer for Android is a good one, and you can download it here.
Here’s how to change your Wi-Fi channel.
- Log in to your router (the login details should be printed on the router).
- Click on Wireless Setup.
- Under your SSID, click Change the Channel or Select Auto Channel.
Generally, the best Wi-Fi channels are 1, 11, and 6.
Solution #4: Enable 5 GHz
If your router supports it, try enabling 5 GHz. 5 GHz will offer faster and more stable performance. In fact, sometimes the speed of a 5 GHz Wi-Fi network can be the same as with a wired connection.
Of course, the downside to 5 GHz Wi-Fi is that not all devices are compatible with it. Most modern phones should be able to connect to 5 GHz Wi-Fi, but older devices won’t be able to. Devices that aren’t compatible with 5 GHz Wi-Fi won’t be able to see the network on the list.
Most routers will let you broadcast two Wi-Fi networks: 2.4 GHz for the older devices and 5 GHz for the newer devices. It will also split the devices across two networks so the bandwidth will be more manageable and the 5 GHz devices can enjoy a faster network.
You will need to check your router’s options for these features.
Solution #5: Add More Access Points to Improve Your Wi-Fi Signal
One of the best ways to make Wi-Fi faster is to improve its signal strength with access points. An access point is like a mini-router that needs to be connected to your main router via an Ethernet cable.
Essentially, it takes the Wi-Fi network information from your router and broadcasts it again to provide more coverage. These are great for improving Wi-Fi coverage in a home and ensuring everyone can enjoy a strong network.
Installing an access point can be a little tricky depending on a number of factors. Since you need to run an Ethernet cable to it from your main router, you need to find a way to run cables through walls or across long distances.
The good thing is that access points are relatively small and can be placed on ceilings or walls without being too noticeable. If you have a two-story house, it’s a good idea to place an access point on each floor, ideally in an open-air location.
For additional tips, read our article on how to improve Wi-Fi signal strength here.
Solution #6: Reduce the Number of Other Devices that May Create Interference
Many devices that use wireless signals can interfere with your Wi-Fi network, causing slower speeds, weaker signal strength, and an unstable connection. These devices can include wireless networks, microwaves, baby monitors, wireless cameras, and so on.
To improve your Wi-Fi signal and avoid interference, try to reduce the number of electronic devices that operate on the same frequency. Unplugging an old wireless phone can sometimes improve your Wi-Fi.
If you can’t remove the other wireless devices, consider moving your router away from them.
Solution #7: Restart Your Router
This is the classic solution for most IT problems. Restarting your router usually clears up software issues that prevent you from getting the expected performance.
To restart a router, simply unplug the power cable, wait 30 seconds, and reconnect it.
Solution #8: Secure Your Wi-Fi
If you haven’t placed a password on your Wi-Fi, there’s a chance a neighbor is leeching off of your Wi-Fi and using up the bandwidth with constant downloads. It’s important to put a password on your Wi-Fi and use a strong encryption method.
The Bottom Line
Overall, the easiest ways to make your Wi-Fi faster are to buy a new router, use a wired connection, or change your Wi-Fi channel. If your Wi-Fi is still slow after these steps, the problem is likely with your internet service provider and you’ll need to give them a call.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©antstang/Shutterstock.com.