Is your browsing unbearably slow? Do you often experience a sluggish network? Or perhaps seem to be at the edge of your home Wi-Fi where the signal is weak?
Being out of network coverage is maddening especially in a world where staying connected is as vital as breathing – well, not exactly that essential; but you get the drift. The long and short of it is, for most of us, a strong Wi-Fi signal is crucial to the smooth running of our daily life.
That said it is about time you do something about the weak Wi-Fi signal strength or out of coverage issues.
In this piece, you are going to learn how to increase Wi-Fi signal strength. You will learn how to use the NetSpot Wi-Fi signal strength app to extend the network reach.
But first, let’s take a look at what Wi-Fi signal strength is exactly and what influences it.
What is Wi-Fi signal strength?
Wi-Fi signal strength is a negatively expressed value measured in dBm that describes just how fast or slow a Wi-Fi network is. It tells you at a glance, whether a Wi-Fi connection is strong or weak.
The Wi-Fi signal strength is arranged in ascending order where the lowest value (-30 dBm) is the strongest while the highest value (-90 dBm) is the weakest signal respectively.
So, the values within this range describe different Wi-Fi signal strength. Take for instance, if your network signal strength shows anything between -50 dBm, or -60 dBm, or -67 dBm you can rest easy knowing you have excellent signal strength, or good signal, or reliable network connection.
However, if you notice the signal falling below -70 dBm or -80 dBm, or -90 dBm you have every reason to worry because you’d get a spotty network connection and at -90 dBm the signal is so weak you can’t even log in to the network.
Now, it is essential to know some factors that influence how strong or weak your Wi-Fi signal strength is.
Factors affecting your Wi-Fi signal strength
To understand what could be the reason you are getting a weak Wi-Fi signal here are some factors to look at. Some of them are quite obvious; others are well-known, while there are less obvious factors.
Obvious factors impacting your Wi-Fi signal strength
Physical obstructions – Large furniture, reinforced concrete, plaster, or steel lath are just a few of the physical obstacles that degrade wireless network strength.
The signal ricochet – bounces off – these obstructions thereby creating a longer travel path and or causes the signal to be lost in transit.
Interference from other networks – Almost everyone is on a Wi-Fi network. Your neighbors have theirs. You have yours. It’s a good thing.
The challenge; however is that, over time as the airwave is jam-packed with more and more signals of similar frequencies, they would start interfering with each other. And this could have a significantly adverse effect on the quality you get.
Also, other devices like mobile phones and micro-ovens that use the same frequency channel as the Wi-Fi can interfere with its performance too.
Limited network range – The distance between devices is another common cause of weak Wi-Fi signal. The thing is, the signal from the router travels in all direction, so as it spreads out, the weaker it gets.
Signal sharing – Wireless signals grinds to a slow crawl the higher the number of users connected to the network. That’s because the access point is trying to communicate with several users at the same time while also allocating resources to each subscriber.
Now you know what Wi-Fi signal strength is and also some of the factors that significantly affect it, let’s look at how you can check Wi-Fi signal strength.
How to check Wi-Fi Signal Strength
The fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to test your Wi-Fi signal strength is to use your laptop or mobile phone.
To do that, you will have to launch your device’s built-in wireless network connection utility monitor – thankfully all Microsoft Windows systems and other operating systems come packed with this feature.
Click on the network icon on the lower right-hand side of your screen on the taskbar. On the pop-up, you can see the network you’re connected to.
Right click on your network, select status to quickly see the wireless connection strength.
Another option to check Wi-Fi signal strength is to use Wi-Fi analysis apps. The app such as NetSpot scans an area for available networks. It analyzes the available networks displaying their configurations and security information. Plus, it creates a heatmap that visualizes areas with the most reliable network signal so you can decide the best place to place your workstation.
How to use NetSpot to check Wi-Fi signal strength
Step 1: download, install and launch the NetSpot app – it is free to download.
Step 2: select the Discovery Mode – it scans and displays every available network.
Step 3: see a network you’d like to check? Click on it; the app will automatically scan and display the network’s status.
Step 4: Then move around the area to get a sense of how the signal changes.
How to increase Wi-Fi signal strength
There are a number of things you can do right away to boost your Wi-Fi signal strength. However, it comes down to eliminating as much as possible all the factors listed above that impacts wireless connection signal.
Place your router in a central position – try as much as you can to cut down the distance between the network access point and your devices.
Placing your router at the center of the house ensures at least, an even spread of the network. Though, it is recommended to use NetSpot to map out how the signal changes as you move around the house, that way you can determine the perfect area to keep the router.
Don’t keep router inside a cupboard – Wi-Fi signals are the strongest when the router is placed in the open. It performs even better when raised.
If however, your router’s optimal position is in an even flat surface, you may want to consider mounting it on a wall. Point the antenna upwards and then install for the best reception.
Switch to a less crowded router channel – Often users leave their routers to the default channel 1 or 6, and this could somehow impact your Wi-Fi signal strength.
Think of it, if everyone in your neighborhood is sharing the same channel, the channel could get clogged, and interference rife.
So, switching to less crowded channel ensures not only does your Wi-Fi performance improve it also prevents unnecessary interference from nearby devices.