Nothing is more frustrating in the digital world that a wonky Wi-Fi signal. Whether it’s painfully slow, the signal is weak and connections drop or there are Wi-Fi dead spots in your home, it’s easy to get worked up over this tech conundrum especially when you’re YouTube videos won’t load and you can’t send that all-important work email that was due two hours ago. Here are some reasons why your home connection is lagging and what you can do to easily fix the situation:
1. Internet thieves
If your network password is too simple, there could be more people tapping into it than you originally bargained for. There are easy ways to find out if someone is stealing your Wi-Fi, but the best thing to do is just lock them out with better security.
This is a problem in crowded neighborhoods or apartments. When too many people try to connect at the same time on the same Wi-Fi channel, connection speed is significantly impacted. Fix this by selecting a different channel for your router (consult your router’s manual to see how to do this).
3. Outdated equipment
One of the best ways to make sure your network is as fast and reliable as possible is to use up-to-date hardware. The main thing you need to know: Wireless A, B, and G are old and slow, and wireless N (and the even newer wireless AC) will give you the fastest speeds around.
(Read more: 8 Ways To Prevent Hackers From Stealing Your Data)
4. Security settings
The type of wireless security you use could impact your overall speeds too. Obviously, an open network will make it easy for someone to steal your Wi-Fi, and the older WEP security is easily hacked, so avoid it at all costs. This leaves you with WPA, WPA2 with TKIP, or WPA2 with AES. The best option is WPA2 with AES. AES is a newer and more secure setting that lets you achieve higher speeds.
5. Out of range
Routers are ugly-looking things, so your inclination may be to hide them. That’s a bad idea because routers are susceptible to overheating and need good airflow. The devices also perform much better when placed in an open, central location, away from walls and obstructions, such as metal filing cabinets.
6. Wrong Network
Modern routers offer ‘dual-band’, which means they’re sending data over two network signals: 2.4GHz and 5GHz. The 5GHz network is often far less crowded and offers more channels to hook onto. To speed up your connection, activate both networks and connect mobile devices to 2.4GHz, while laptops and desktops should be on 5GHz.
7. Default Modes
Some routers come pre-programmed on their “power-saving” or “eco-modes”, which while great for the environment, also reduces your bandwidth disproportionately. If you value bandwidth over minimal power saving, switch these default modes off.
8. Electrical Inteference
Other routers aren’t the only thing that can cause interference. Cordless phones, microwaves, and other appliances can muck with your signal as well. Try moving your router further away from interfering appliances or buy a dual-band router to stop the problem from rearing its ugly head once and for all.
9. Bandwidth-hogging applications
If someone in your house regularly video chats, plays online games, torrents files, or uses services like Netflix, they may be making the internet slower for everyone else. Luckily, there are tools available that can prioritize certain applications over others.
If your connection is sluggish, try rebooting your router every so often so it doesn’t drop out. You can run a few tests to make sure the problem isn’t caused by heat, old firmware, or excess downloading, but an easy way to solve the problem is to automatically reboot it once a day or so using an outlet timer.