Top 7 Tips for Improving a Wireless Home Network

A basic Wi-Fi home network can be assembled fairly quickly. However, many homeowners aren't aware of all the options available for making their network better. Consider the below ideas for improving the capability, performance and security of your wireless home network.

1. Upgrade and Add the Right Equipment
Many homeowners have heard of basic Wi-Fi equipment like routers and wireless adapter cards. Many such products are available to choose from. The "best" choices are often unclear. Old equipment may need to be replaced with faster, more reliable or more compatible products. Folks also often fail to consider cool wireless gear like print servers, game adapters and video cameras. Before settling for a second-rate home network setup, do your research and acquire the right stuff at a good price.

2. Install the Wireless Router / Access Point Strategically
Some people quickly assemble their wireless home network only to find that it won't function in certain areas of the residence. Others enjoy a network functional at first but suffer quick disappointment later when it crashes as a microwave oven or cordless phone is turned on. Still others suffer from poor network performance but fear attempting to fix it. One easy way to address these common Wi-Fi networking problems is to move the wireless router (access point).

3. Change the Wi-Fi Channel Number
In the USA and most other countries, Wi-Fi equipment can transmit on any of several different "channels" similar to televisions. Most wireless routers ship with the same default channel number, and most homeowners never think about changing it. However, if a person experiences radio interference from a neighbor's router or some other piece of electronic equipment, changing the Wi-Fi channel just might be the best way to avoid it.

4. Upgrade Wireless Router (Access Point) Firmware
Wireless routers contain built-in programmable logic called firmware. A version of this firmware is installed on the router by the manufacturer, and this normally works well when first installing the device. However, many routers also offer a firmware upgrade capability that allows homeowners to install newer versions. Updated firmware can provide performance improvements, security enhancements or better reliability. As your router gets older, consider upgrading its firmware periodically.

5. Improve Signal Strength and Range of the Wi-Fi Router (Access Point)
No matter where in a residence a Wi-Fi router is installed, sometimes the wireless signal will simply not be strong enough. The likelihood of this problem increases with longer distances and with severe obstructions such as brick walls between the router and a Wi-Fi client. One way to solve this problem is to upgrade the Wi-Fi antenna installed on the router. Some routers do not support this option, but many do. The alternative involves installing an additional device called a wireless repeater.

6. Improve Signal Strength and Range of Wi-Fi clients
As with wireless routers, the signal strength of wireless clients can also be improved. Consider this option when faced with a Wi-Fi client that suffers from a very short range compared to the rest of the devices. This same technique can improve the ability of laptop computers to connect to Wi-Fi hotspots.

7. Improve Wireless Network Security
Many homeowners consider their wireless network a success when basic file and Internet connection sharing are functional. However, if proper security features are not in place, the work of network setup remains unfinished. Follow this checklist of essential steps for establishing and maintaining good Wi-Fi security on a home network.
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