2. Select a new channel for your router
Next step is to select your router’s channel, especially if you're on the 2.4GHz frequency, the standard frequency for G gadgets.
This 2.4Ghz band is particularly congested because, aside from other Wi-Fi routers in your vicinity, other devices like cordless phones, Bluetooth speakers, microwave ovens and baby monitors occupy this band.
This overload causes interference, slowdowns, and unpredictable connectivity. Moving from one channel to a less crowded one may help speed things up and provide more reliable connections.
But how do you pick another channel? What is the difference between one channel and another? To answer these questions, you’ll have to use your Wi-Fi scanner.
For Macs, Apple provides a free tool called “Wireless Diagnostics.” To get to it, hold the Option key while clicking on the Wi-Fi icon on the right-hand side of the menu bar, then choose “Open Wireless Diagnostics.” To access the Scan tool, ignore the actual Wireless Diagnostics window, then go to the Window tab on the top left side of the menu bar and choose Scan. You will see a list of all the Wi-Fi signals in your vicinity and the channels they occupy.
For Windows, download the free Wi-Fi utility, Acrylic Wi-Fi Home. Similar to Mac’s Scan tool, this application will instantly give you information about the Wi-Fi signals in your area, including the channels they utilize. The software will even give you ratings based on Channel Quality, Signal Quality, Signal to Noise, Security and Speed. Another Windows tool Vistumbler has similar capabilities.
For Android users, there are many different Wi-Fi scanning tools available, but a very popular one is Network Analyzer. Click here for more details and download information.
Once you have the channel info you need, I recommend channels 1, 6 and 11, since they don’t overlap with each other. Just choose the one among these that is least crowded and evaluate your improvements. Switching channels sometimes requires some trial and error.
3. Secure your router
As I tell people over and over again, security is very important, especially with routers. But it’s not just having any security; it’s the type of security you select. Believe it or not, this can affect the speed of your connection as well.
For starters, if your network is Open (no security) or you’re using WEP, change the security settings immediately. This lack of security leaves your network completely exposed. You also don’t want WPA or TKIP, options you will probably see in your settings.
Instead, select WPA2 with AES. AES is newer and more secure, and you can use it to achieve top speeds on your N router. Click here to see how your router’s security can affect its speed.
After you do all this, give yourself a pat on the back. You’re on your way to becoming a networking pro!
How else can you make your home network more efficient? Be sure to listen or download my podcasts, or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.