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How to use your smartphone to diagnose bad Wi-Fi

These days, there’s nothing more frustrating than a sluggish internet. You can work from anywhere that has a Wi-Fi connection, whether that’s your home office or a coffee shop.

It’s critical for it to be fast. If you have customers waiting to electronically sign a contract, for example, any wasted minutes (or hours!) could convince them to change their mind.

A slow Wi-Fi can ruin your plans to catch up with old friends on a video call. It could make it impossible to pay your bills, answer emails, buy birthday gifts or do your online grocery shopping.

Fortunately, you don’t need to be stuck with a slow Wi-Fi connection. All you have to do is figure out where Wi-Fi is strongest in your home or wherever you’re connecting.

It starts, as many things do these days, by taking out your smartphone. If you use an iPhone or an Android, we’ve got tricks to speed up your digital life.

Apps to analyze Wi-Fi

There are smartphone apps for iPhone and Android that can test your Wi-Fi speed and analyze what’s ailing your Wi-Fi connection. Several of these apps are FREE, but a few will set you back a couple of dollars.

Apps for iPhone and Android

 Speedtest by Ookla- screenshot

Speedtest by Ookla

This FREE app will help you see how fast your download speed and upload speed are (there’s also a website to check your laptop’s speed). You can see how those speeds stack up to your ISP’s promised speeds.

Speedtest makes things easy with graphs, your cellphone provider’s coverage maps and more. You can keep track of your speeds over time to see if they change.

While all that is helpful, Speedtest’s best feature may be its troubleshooting tool. It’ll guide you along to see if there are problems causing your Wi-Fi’s slowdown.

FAST Speed Test

Cover art

This app and website from Netflix are as straightforward as it can get. It helps you quickly see how fast your connection is.

There’s a nice extra from FAST that some other apps can’t boast. It’s ad-free in addition to being free to download.

IP Tools

 IP Tools: WiFi Analyzer- screenshot thumbnail

Where Netflix’s FAST couldn’t be easier to use, the IP Tools: Wi-Fi Analyzer may take a little getting used to. This app is geared toward IT professionals, but it’s easy to use even if you have just a little geek in you.

IP Tools detects problems that are slowing down your Wi-Fi. It finds problems then helps you fix them.

Other Android Apps

There are several other smartphone apps to test your Wi-Fi speed and to figure out what’s slowing it down. These apps typically help you find Wi-Fi channels and help you see which ones are the least crowded.

Here are a few Android apps that you may want to check out: WiFi Analyzer, WiFi Analyzer & Surveyor and WiFi Heat Map, which shows you where Wi-Fi is strongest in your home.

How to Fix Slow Wi-Fi

You may need to check your hardware if the apps above don’t speed up your Wi-Fi. Your first call should be to your Internet Service Provider — that may be your cable TV company.

Ask them to go over the details of your internet plan. Are you paying for their maximum speed — and, if you are, do you need it?

What about the Wi-Fi router they provided to you? Is this the best one they offer?

If you purchased your own router, call the manufacturer’s customer service department for help. Ask your ISP if they have a speedier router.

Next, you may want to spend some money to speed up Wi-Fi in your home. You can buy multiple routers, for instance, and place them throughout your house.

A Wi-Fi repeater, which you can find on Amazon and in stores like Best Buy, will perform the same type of function as having multiple routers. You can also set up a Wi-Fi mesh network like Eero that splits up Wi-Fi signals to specific internet-connected devices in your home.

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