How to Make Your Wi-Fi Faster

Move the router, change the wireless channel, or get an extender

What to Know

  • The quickest way to speed up a Wi-Fi network is by moving the router to a central, unobstructed location.
  • Switch between channels 1, 6, and 11 to find one that's not congested.
  • Still no improvement? Get a range extender if moving the router or switching channels doesn't work.

This article explains how to reposition your router, change the router channel, and install a Wi-Fi extender to speed up your home wireless network.

Speed Things Up by Repositioning the Router

It sounds almost too simple to be true but the placement of your router can make all the difference between fast Wi-Fi and lousy Wi-Fi. Consider the quality of the signal and how hard it is for that to reach the devices requiring Wi-Fi access. Always place a router in an unobstructed location.

If a router is in a closed cabinet, in the corner of a room, or several walls away from your computer, for example, the signal will be immediately degraded, even if it's in a central location. Here's how to reposition a router:

  1. Disconnect the router from its current location.

  2. Move the router to a central location to improve the Wi-Fi signal. 

    Use temporary wiring to see if it helps before tidying up the cables as a more long-term solution.

  3. Turn on the router then move from room to room with your smartphone, tablet or laptop to see the number of Wi-Fi bars on the device. If they've improved, your connection is better than before and you should make the new placement a more permanent solution.

    Another helpful way of boosting the signal is to place your router somewhere raised. Routers typically spread their signal downwards so it's best if the device is on a raised surface to begin with. 

Get Faster Wi-Fi By Changing the Channel on the Router

Routers divide up Wi-Fi signal into different channels. By default, they tend to pick out what's considered the best and most popular option but that can be a disadvantage. If your neighbors are also using their Wi-Fi on the same channel, the channel can become congested and things begin to slow down.

Some newer and more advanced routers automatically choose the least crowded channel. Check your router manual to see if your router already does this.

  1. On your router, log into the router administration page and look for something referring to wireless channels.

    A router administration page with channel settings highlighted
  2. Typically, 2.4GHz routers use channels 1, 6 and 11. You can use an analyzer tool to find out whether those channels are congested before changing them accordingly. 

  3. Some routers offer dual-band technology where you can also choose to use the 5GHz spectrum which is often less frequently used so tends to be faster than 2.4GHz.

    The 5GHz frequency is more susceptible to physical objects slowing it down. Only use the 5GHz frequency if your router has a clear path to all your devices.

  4. Once you've changed channels or spectrum, use an internet speed test site to check your connection has actually improved. 

Improve the Signal With a Range Extender

Notice how the location of your router makes a huge difference to the connection speed of your Wi-Fi? If it's not possible to easily move your router or your home is still too large, you can use a range extender to expand the coverage in your home. Wi-Fi range is a key component to making your Wi-Fi work more smoothly. Here's a quick overview of how to extend the range.

  1. Buy a Wi-Fi range extender. There are many different devices out there covering different budgets and requirements. It's important you buy the right one for your situation.

    Someone placing a wi-fi range extender into a power socket
    Cristian Storto Fotografia, Getty Images
  2. Place the Wi-Fi range extender at a location in your home that's halfway between the current Wi-Fi router and the area with the weakest signal. 

  3. Log into the extender and follow the instructions that come with it to make it work with your existing router.

  4. If you prefer a more advanced solution, you can also turn an old router into a Wi-Fi repeater by following some key steps. It can be quite complicated but depending on your home setup, could be the best solution for you.