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Tips For Fixing Low Wifi Signal

I often get advice for what people can do about the fact that they have a weak WiFi signal in some of their rooms, so I thought I would turn it into a a post. There are many ways to tackle this problem but you will have to pick the one most suitable solution for you.

1. Use Ethernet Cables

The best way to fix a weak WiFi signal is to switch to using an Ethernet cable that is connected directly to your router. A modern cat6 ethernet cable can go up to 100 meters without any degradation in signal. This is almost always long enough, and if it isn't, you can just plug in a switch to repeat the signal along the way.

Pros

  • A "perfect" signal that can stretch much further than WiFi.
  • Ethernet cables and switches are super cheap!

Cons

  • Most people don't have ethernet access in the room that has a weak signal and cant afford the time/money to get Ethernet installed and routed to the room from their router.

2. Add Another Router

If you absolutely must use WiFi instead of plugging your computer into a cable, you can just set up another access point near to the room, plugged into the nearest available Ethernet cable. Many routers can be set to "bridged mode" in order to turn them into an access point rather than another NAT. This means that you will still be able connect with your other devices in the house that aren't connected through that router.

Pros

  • You can get a cheap router for around £20-50. I would steer clear of cheap TP-Link ones though as I've had many issues with them.
  • You will get a strong WiFi signal depending on how close you are able to set up this secondary access point.

Cons

  • You have to have the knowledge of how to set up the router. Go find yourself a nerd if you are unsure.
  • Requires there to be ethernet access near to the spot you have a weak signal.

3. Buy A Better Router And/Or Receiver

If you don't have Ethernet cables anywhere near your "weak spot", then maybe the best solution is to upgrade to a better router that gives off a stronger signal, and/or possibly buy a USB WiFi dongle that is better than the crappy one built into your laptop. You'd be amazed how bad the chips in laptops can be. Some WiFi dongles come with leads allowing them to be placed in a better position which can have a massive impact. E.g. place it around that large solid concrete wall that is between you and the router.

Pros

  • May be a solution when you can't get Ethernet cables near to your weak point.

Cons

  • A good WiFi router can be expensive. The Netgear R8000 is currently £140.

4. Invest In A Mesh Network

A mesh network is one that "extends" your WiFi signal by passing the data between the nodes in the mesh, thus the more nodes you have the better. All the nodes use the same SSID, so your device doesn't have to keep switching network.

There are several mesh network providers, but Google is a brand name you will recognize and seemed to get a good reviews online. http:/

Pros

  • A fairly simple solution that is easy enough to set up.
  • A possible solution for almost any physical scenario.

Cons

  • Expensive!
  • Google is now running your internal network. Are they listening to your traffic and sending it back to their servers?

5. Powerline Networking

This is my last solution for good reason, but most people I meet end up going for this, including my parents.

You can buy powerline adapters (such as these Netgear ones) that you plug into your home's power sockets and they will act like there is a direct Ethernet cable connection between them. You plug one into the wall near your router and connect it to your router with an Ethernet cable. You then plug another adapter in the wall near your laptop and connect an Ethernet cable between it and your laptop, or you combine this solution with solution 2 and connect your laptop via WiFi.

Pros

  • Fairly cheap, especially compared to other solutions.

Cons

  • I don't trust how it works by manipulating your electricity supply.
  • These adapters won't work when connected through devices like surge protectors because of the nature of how they work.
  • Due to the fact that they cannot be connected to surge protectors, and how they work, they are likely to break as soon as there is a power surge etc and you will have to buy replacements and be frustrated that your network is down.
  • Often much slower than the speeds advertised and compared to Ethernet cables, but still often faster than a WiFI signal (if you connect your device to it via Ethernet of course).