Troubleshooting Tips To Fix Slow Wireless Connection Speeds

by Rohit Khurana on July 27, 2010

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Wireless access to the Internet provide so much flexibility and break limitations on mobility. With the prices of wireless hardware continually decreasing, wireless networks are becoming increasingly popular in businesses as well as in homes. However, not many resources that help fix issues with these unpredictable wireless connections exist. Sometimes, the solution might be extremely simple, if only users are informed about it. The tips here will help you understand some common trouble scenarios in a WiFi connection, and assist you in tackling them.

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Hard Reset The Router

This might seem to be an insignificant solution, but surprisingly, it does work sometimes! Simply try turning off your router, and switch it back again after a minute or two. If this doesn’t work, perform a hard reset of your router.

Remove Sources of Interference

Any metal surfaces, walls, and even floors, will interfere with the wireless router’s signals. WiFi signals are reflected by any metal surfaces, and devices operating in the same frequency as that of the routers’ will intervene with the signals. Keep your router as far as possible from microwaves, baby monitors, wireless speakers, wireless cameras and WiFi keyboards, Bluetooth adapters and cordless phones. Even the beams and columns in a building can considerably block the signal or cause it to completely drop too. Antenna’s should also be positioned well away from power cords or wires that interfere with radio reception.

Relocate Your Wireless Router

The signal strength you receive will improve if the router is placed centrally in the desired area of coverage. If you are having difficulties in getting a stable signal in the right side of the building, and the router is towards the left side, relocate the router more closer to the right. Generally, when two or more computers access the internet, it is best to place the router close to the center of the house (or where it is used) well above the floor level and maximally away from other routers in the neighboring areas.

Choose Equipments Under The Same Brand

It is advisable to buy different WiFi equipments from the same vendor. This is because manufacturers may sometimes optimize communication protocols of their equipment. Though choosing devices from the same brand might not completely solve your problem, you are sure to see a slight improvement in the performance. If you are yet to buy a network adapter, or looking to change one, make sure you buy from the same brand as that of your wireless router.

Use Reflectors

Just like how a mirror reflects light, reflectors reflect the signal in the required direction. Parabolic reflectors can be used to focus signals toward the desired area and increase the signal strength. Compact disks or tin foils can be used as effective reflectors, and they should be placed behind the receiving device or the antenna.

Add Repeaters

As the distance between the router and the computer increases, the signal strength decreases. A wireless repeater is a piece of hardware that can be used to improve signals between the router and the computer. Repeaters simply repeat the signals sent to it, and they allow extension of the range of wireless signals. Repeaters sometimes reduce throughput on the WLAN, which can sometimes be disadvantageous. These devices can be positioned halfway between the computer and the wireless access point.

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Upgrade your router’s firmware

The firmware, which is an embedded software contained inside the router, carries out a part of the network protocols, administrative capabilities and security mechanisms of the router. Firmware upgrades might lend a helping hand in fixing problems that exist with older firmware. Upgrading the router’s firmware not only allows addition of new features, but also improves or changes the existing operations of the router. You may also try re-loading the same firmware version that has already been installed, if you want to clear out the existing settings and start fresh in case of a problem. Visit the router manufacturer’s website to know the latest firmware updates for your router.

Upgrade your router’s existing 802.11 standard

Developed by the IEEE, 802.11 is an industry standard for wireless local area networks. There are several specifications in the 802.11 family with new ones being occasionally added. The newer modulation methods provide higher data transfer rates with reduces interference. For example, older devices using the 802.11b networks are proved to be five times slower than networks on 802.11g. Upgrading to the newest 802.11 standard will boost the performance and speed of your wireless network.

Check/ Change The Channel

The radio spectrum available, is divided into different channels, the number depending on the local licensing laws. These channels are numbered starting from one. If there are 10 available channels for example, 10 different networks can efficiently operate within a same area, if they are provided 10 different channels. On the contrary, if two networks in the same area are on the same channel, this can cause interference and bandwidth restrictions. It is also to be noted that neighboring channels, for example, 1 and 2, or 5 and 6, overlap or interfere to some extent with each other, and this overlapping lessens with the channels further away.

There are a few softwares like NetStumbler that check for interfering WiFi networks. Once downloaded, these programs show all networks in a particular area along with details like the channel, signal strength, network names and much more.

Wireless Network Adapters & Drivers

The wireless network adapter is an interface between the PC and the wireless network. For a good connection, wireless signals should be sent from the router to the computer and the vice versa. The computers sometimes may not send signals back to the router as efficiently as a router does to the computer. In this case, the solution is to replace the wireless adapter with a new adapter having an external antenna. If you are considering replacing your network adapter, also remember that it should be compatible to your router’s 802.11 standard.

From time to time, adapter manufacturers update the software that the operating systems use to communicate with the network adapter. This is called the driver software, and to encourage the signal strength that your computer is receiving, you can try updating the driver software.

Replace Your Router’s Antenna

Wireless routers have built in omnidirectional antennas that distribute signals equally in all directions. Such antennas when placed near an obstructing wall, may not transmit signals efficiently. The antenna has a significant role in determining the signal strength of the wireless router. There are a few other types of antennas that you could choose from.

Omnidirectional antennas with longer antennae perform better. External omnidirectional antennas are stronger than built in ones, but they do raise security concerns. High gain antennas send strong signals in one direction whilst reducing the number of access points.

Always remember that wireless connections are comparatively less secure than wired ones. Whenever you are trying to troubleshoot a WiFi connection, change only one thing at a time. This way, you will easily be able to find out what works and what doesn’t and you will be able to quickly apply the same in the future.

Author Biography

This is a guest article contributes by Zoe Terzetti. Zoe blogs on all things broadband or internet. She is a gadget geek and is presently writing for Broadband Suppliers, a broadband comparison website. Zoe loves experimenting on anything new in the tech world and is a die-hard Apple fan.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Juscelino M. Acevedo July 27, 2010 at 10:54 pm

This is great advice for beginners. I know that there are plenty of people out there that find their wireless not working properly and end up simply wasting money on a new one. It is also worth mentioning that it can also be your ISP. I would also include contacting your ISP and/or resetting your cable modem or DSL router.

vicky lidis July 28, 2010 at 10:22 am

my uninstalling is not working on windows xp

Andre March 9, 2012 at 2:13 am

Dear Zoe

I am having problems with WIFI connection in my showroom. Internet connection is now too slow and the IT guy is saying that this has being caused by the mirrors we recently put on the wall of the showroom.

Does it make sense? Do you agree that mirrors can interfere and cause connections problems on WIFI networks?

Thank you,
Andre

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