We’ve all experienced the frustrations of slow, unreliable internet. There are the buffering videos, the slow-to-load websites and the Wi-Fi dead zones.
For many of us, our daily lives revolve around the internet and our connected devices. And that’s even more true since the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I’m relying on my Wi-Fi to help me work, connect with people and stream lots of shows,” said Geek Squad Agent Derek Meister, who is also working from home right now. “So, I need my internet speeds to be on point.”
Having more people work and learn from home can strain your wireless connection. So, it’s important to make sure you’re getting the most out of your home network.
Here are a few of Derek’s tips for how to optimize your Wi-Fi.
Update your firmware
First, make sure you have the latest firmware updates for your router.
“This will download any security updates, bug fixes or even network performance enhancements that the manufacturer has made since you purchased the device,” Agent Meister said.
To update your firmware, you might have to log on to a website or visit a mobile app to access the settings on your device. Check your router’s manual if you’re not sure how to do this. You might even be able to set up automatic updates.
While you’re in the settings, you can also change the name of your network, create a new password or update your parental controls.
Put your router in a central location
Your router is the heart of your Wi-Fi network, pulling data from your modem (which translates data from your internet service provider) and sharing it across all your tech. So, it’s important to place your router in a central location where it can communicate with devices in every room of your home.
“That will reduce the distance that the signal has to go to hit all of your devices,” Agent Meister said. “The shorter the distance, the stronger the signal. The stronger the signal, the faster your connection, typically.”
Try to keep your router on the main floor, not tucked in the basement or a back bedroom. You want that signal to reach as far as possible in all directions.
Move your router up as high as you can
It’s best to put your router in an open space where walls and appliances won’t block the signal. One of the best ways to do that is to place it up as high as possible.
Agent Meister recommends putting it on top of a bookcase, but you could also put it on a desk or table. It’s definitely best to avoid hiding it in a cabinet or behind the couch.
Also, if your router has external antennas, make sure they are pointing up and that they are not loose. That can also help with signal strength.
Check your broadband speed
If you’re still having problems, it might be time to check for issues beyond your home network.
The best way to do that is to check the speed, quality and performance of your internet connection. In fact, we have an easy-to-use Broadband Speed Test on our website.
“Make sure your incoming data is roughly about the speeds that are in your advertised plan,” Agent Meister said. “If not, go ahead and contact your internet service provider.”
Consider the age of your router and modem
If your router is more than a few years old, it might be time to upgrade to a newer one that will be able to handle more traffic on your network without slowing down. It’s sort of like adding more lanes to a highway.
“These modern routers tend to have better performance in terms of the hardware, stronger signals and more features that will help with your connection,” Agent Meister said.
The same goes for your modem, especially when you’re paying for a high-speed internet plan. Think of your modem as the on-ramp to your internet highway and if it’s not capable of directing your high-speed internet to the highway, the strength of your router won’t matter.
You also might want to explore a whole-home, or “mesh,” Wi-Fi system. Instead of using just one router, this allows you to place a series of nodes around your house to extend your range and handle the traffic of more devices on the network.
“If you have a decent-sized house with multiple floors and a lot of devices, it can be a great option,” Agent Meister said. “And if you have teenagers at home, you’re almost certainly going to need it.”
We even have a handy tool on BestBuy.com to help you find the perfect Wi-Fi solution for your home.
Click here for more Wi-Fi networking tips and tricks.