Internet, Networking, & Security Home Networking 587 587 people found this article helpful How Many Devices Can Connect to One Wireless Router? You can use more devices at once than you think . . . probably By Bradley Mitchell Writer An MIT graduate who brings years of technical experience to articles on SEO, computers, and wireless networking. our editorial process LinkedIn Bradley Mitchell Updated February 05, 2020 The Wireless Connection The Wireless Connection Introduction All About Wireless What Does Wireless Really Mean? 802.11 Standards Explained The Range Of A Wireless Network Dual-Band Wireless Networking Explained How Bluetooth Works With Wireless Measure It: Wi-Fi Signal Strength What Is A Wi-Fi Hotspot? The Best Wi-Fi Channels For Your Network Access Your Router As An Administrator 5 Tips for Securing A Wireless Network How Many Devices Can Connect To One Wireless Router? How To Connect At Home How to Name Your Wireless Network How to Change Your Wireless Router's Admin Password Change the Wi-Fi Channel Number to Avoid Interference Build a Wireless Home Network Use Wireless Speakers In Home Theater Connect Your Echo & Alexa To Wi-Fi Connect Google Home to Wi-Fi Wirelessly Connect An iPad To Your TV Use a Free Firewall Program How To Connect On The Go How to Find Free Wi-Fi Locations Get 4G or 3G on Your Laptop Connect To Wi-Fi in Your Car Get Wireless Internet Access in a Hotel Use Your Android As A Wi-Fi Hotspot Set Up Personal Hotspot On Your iPhone Connect Nintendo Switch To Bluetooth Headphones Connect To A Wireless Network With Windows Access Your Computer Remotely How to Troubleshoot Wireless Issues 7 Reasons Wi-Fi Connections Drop Disable Automatic Wireless Connections on Windows How to Hack-proof Your Wireless Router How to Fix OS X Bluetooth Wireless Problems What to Do When Google Home Won't Connect To Wi-Fi How to Hide Your Wireless Network Can't Connect To The Internet? Try This What to Do When There's No Internet Connection The Future of Wireless 5G Changes Everything How 4G And 5G Are Different Why 5G Really Is Faster All About 5G Cell Towers 5G Challenges: Why It Isn't Rolling Out Faster Is 5G The High-Speed Replacement for Cable? When 5G Is Coming to the US The 12 Best 5G Phones Coming in 2019 Tweet Share Email Computers and other devices on a network must share a finite capacity of resources, and that's true for wired and wireless (Wi-Fi) networks alike. However, the precise limits depend on multiple factors. For example, you may notice that when you connect your laptop, a couple of PCs, and some smartphones to your network, it's much harder to stream Netflix or Hulu on your TV. Perhaps the movie stalls or looks fuzzy or you start receiving connection errors. That's because every device connected to your wireless network takes a bit more of the bandwidth and it has to come from somewhere once the maximum bandwidth is reached. It's as if your network says, 'Oh, you're using your phone right now? No problem, let me pull some strength from that movie that's hogging so much space.' Daniel Fishel / Lifewire Your router doesn't think in terms of priorities. Instead, it thinks in terms of where capacity is needed and where it's being used the most. It will pull indiscriminately in an attempt to keep all devices working at some level. How Many Devices Can Connect to a Router? Most home networks and public Wi-Fi hotspots function with a single wireless access point (a broadband router in the case of home networking). Conversely, larger business computer networks install multiple access points to expand the wireless network's coverage to a much larger physical area. Each access point has limits for the number of connections and amount of network load it can handle, but by integrating multiple of them into a larger network, the overall scale can be increased. Theoretical Limits of Wi-Fi Network Scaling Many individual wireless routers and other access points can support up to approximately 250 connected devices. From a wired perspective, routers can accommodate a small number (usually between one and four) of wired Ethernet clients with the rest connected over wireless. The speed rating of access points represents the maximum theoretical network bandwidth they can support. A Wi-Fi router rated at 300 Mbps with 100 devices connected, for example, can only offer on average 3 Mbps to each of them (300/100=3). If you're not sure what your router can support, Google the model number and you should be able to find it that way. Remember, however, most people only use their network connection occasionally, and a router shifts its available bandwidth to the devices that need it. Those shifts will depend upon what a particular device needs at a particular time. Practical Limits of Wi-Fi Network Scaling Most people don't have anywhere near the maximum number of devices a typical router can hold. That's a good thing, because connecting 250 devices to a single Wi-Fi access point, while theoretically possible, is not very feasible for a few reasons: Administrators often keep limits in place to keep the routers and networks running reliably. On home networks, all devices normally share a single internet connection. The performance will start to degrade as more devices join the network and start using it simultaneously. Even just a handful of active devices streaming video or downloading files can quickly max out a shared internet link. Access points overheat and stop working when operating at extreme loads for extended periods, even if handling only local traffic and not accessing the internet. Having a large number of Wi-Fi devices concentrated in close physical proximity, like a home or office building, generates significant wireless signal interference. Radio interference among Wi-Fi devices degrades network performance (due to frequent re-broadcasting of messages that fail to reach their destination) and eventually causes connection drops. Some home routers include a feature that allows administrators to control the number of clients that can simultaneously connect. Many Linksys routers, for example, set a default maximum of 50 maximum devices. How to Maximize Your Network's Potential Installing a second router or access point on a home network can greatly help distribute the network load. By adding more access points to the network, effectively any number of devices can be supported. However, this will make the network progressively more difficult to manage. Something else you can do if you already have one or more routers that support a large number of devices is to increase the bandwidth available to each simultaneously connected device by upping your subscription with your ISP. For example, if your network devices and internet subscription lets you download at 1 Gbps, then having even 50 devices connected at once lets each device consume up to 20 megabits of data per second. Some people use mesh networks to improve wireless network coverage in their homes. These kinds of networks provide better coverage because they consist of interlocked routers that supply internet coverage over a broad area, which most traditional, single router networks just can't offer.