Maximize home network performance

Wireless routers (and access points) normally contain a built in WiFi antenna that radiates signal equally well in all directions. These antennas are sometimes called omnidirectional. An omnidirectional antenna makes router setup easier. When the router is installed in the center of a home and wireless clients are distributed throughout the rooms, an omnidirectional antenna helps ensure all corners of the house can be reached.

Sometimes, however, it is better to replace the router's built-in antenna with a different one. An omnidirectional antenna can have difficulty reaching a long distance because its signaling power must be expended in all directions.

To address this problem, some router manufacturers sell external omnidirectional antennas that are significanly stronger than the router's built in antenna. Installing a stronger omnidirectional antenna obviously allows far-away locations to be better reached. Because WiFi connections are distance-sensitive, a stronger connection also often leads to increased network performance.

A wireless antenna that is too strong, however, raises security concerns. Omnidirectional WiFi signals are more likely to bleed outside the house into neighboring areas where the signals can be snooped. Greater WiFi range can also be achieved with a high gain directional antenna that sends a strong signal in a particular direction. By focusing the signal, a high gain antenna allows the signal to be better controlled, literally aimed toward the area of the home where wireless devices are located.

In summary, consider replacing the wireless antenna on a router to improve wireless network reach and performance if possible. Many routers support an external antenna jack that allows connecting the new antenna. Consult the router product documentation for details.
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