Windows ever notifies you about a weak signal, it probably means your
connection isn’t as fast or as reliable as it could be. Worse, you
might lose your connection entirely in some parts of your home. If
you’re looking to improve the signal for your wireless network, try
some of these tips for extending your wireless range and improving your
wireless network performance.
1. Position your wireless router (or wireless access point) in a central location
possible, place your wireless router in a central location in your
home. If your wireless router is against an outside wall of your home,
the signal will be weak on the other side of your home. Don’t worry if
you can’t move your wireless router, because there are many other ways
to improve your connection.
2. Move the router off the floor and away from walls and metal objects (such as metal file cabinets)
walls, and floors will interfere with your router’s wireless signals.
The closer your router is to these obstructions, the more severe the
interference, and the weaker your connection will be.
3. Replace your router’s antenna
antennas supplied with your router are designed to be omni-directional,
meaning they broadcast in all directions around the router. If your
router is near an outside wall, half of the wireless signals will be
sent outside your home, and much of your router’s power will be wasted.
Most routers don’t allow you to increase the power output, but you can
make better use of the power. Upgrade to a hi-gain antenna that focuses
the wireless signals only one direction. You can aim the signal in the
direction you need it most.
4. Replace your computer’s wireless network adapter
network signals must be sent both to and from your computer. Sometimes,
your router can broadcast strongly enough to reach your computer, but
your computer can’t send signals back to your router. To improve this,
replace your laptop’s PC card-based wireless network adapter with a USB
network adapter that uses an external antenna. In particular, consider
the Hawking Hi-Gain Wireless USB network adapter, which adds an
external, hi-gain antenna to your computer and can significantly
improve your range.
Laptops with built-in wireless typically have excellent antennas and don’t need to have their network adapters upgraded.
5. Add a wireless repeater
repeaters extend your wireless network range without requiring you to
add any wiring. Just place the wireless repeater halfway between your
wireless access point and your computer, and you’ll get an instant
boost to your wireless signal strength. Check out the wireless
repeaters from ViewSonic, D-Link, Linksys, and Buffalo Technology.
6. Change your wireless channel
routers can broadcast on several different channels, similar to the way
radio stations use different channels. In the United States and Canada,
these channels are 1, 6, and 11. Just like you’ll sometimes hear
interference on one radio station while another is perfectly clear,
sometimes one wireless channel is clearer than others. Try changing
your wireless router’s channel through your router’s configuration page
to see if your signal strength improves. You don’t need to change your
computer’s configuration, because it’ll automatically detect the new
7. Reduce wireless interference
you have cordless phones or other wireless electronics in your home,
your computer might not be able to "hear" your router over the noise
from the other wireless devices. To quiet the noise, avoid wireless
electronics that use the 2.4GHz frequency. Instead, look for cordless
phones that use the 5.8GHz or 900MHz frequencies.
8. Update your firmware or your network adapter driver
manufacturers regularly make free improvements to their routers.
Sometimes, these improvements increase performance. To get the latest
firmware updates for your router, visit your router manufacturer’s
Similarly, network adapter vendors occasionally update
the software that Windows uses to communicate with your network
adapter, known as the driver. These updates typically improve
performance and reliability. To get the driver updates, do the
Windows 7 and Windows Vista
Click Start menu, click All Programs, and then click Windows Update.
In the left pane, click Check for updates, and then wait while Windows Vista looks for the latest updates for your computer.
Install any updates relating to your wireless network adapter.
Visit Microsoft Update, click Custom, and then wait while Windows XP looks for the latest updates for your computer.
Install any updates relating to your wireless adapter.
9. Pick equipment from a single vendor
a Linksys router will work with a D-Link network adapter, you often get
better performance if you pick a router and network adapter from the
same vendor. Some vendors offer a performance boost of up to twice the
performance when you choose their hardware: Linksys has the
SpeedBooster technology, and D-Link has the 108G enhancement.
10. Upgrade 802.11b devices to 802.11g
is the most common type of wireless network, but 802.11g is about five
times faster. 802.11g is backward-compatible with 802.11b, so you can
still use any 802.11b equipment that you have. If you’re using 802.11b
and you’re unhappy with the performance, consider replacing your router
and network adapters with 802.11g-compatible equipment. If you’re
buying new equipment, definitely choose 802.11g.
networks never reach the theoretical bandwidth limits. 802.11b networks
typically get 2-5Mbps. 802.11g is usually in the 13-23Mbps range.
Belkin’s Pre-N equipment has been measured at 37-42Mbps.