July 07, 2014, 10:35 AM — Want to give your Wi-Fi network a quick speed boost? Then check out these five no-cost or low-cost ways to improve its peformance.
Change your router's channel
A frequent cause of network slowdowns is interference from household devices or nearby networks. Changing the channel your network uses can make a big difference. If you've got a 2.4 GHz router, channels 1, 6, and 11 are generally the best bets because they're furthest away from other channels. But even those might run into interference from nearby networks. So first run software that shows you the channels any nearby networks use, and how powerful their signals are. The free NetStumbler does a great job on Windows machines. If you've got an Android device, WiFi Analyzer does the trick. After you see what channels nearby networks are running on, choose a conflict-free channel for your own network.
If you have a combo 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz router, use 5Ghz because you have more bands from which to choose, and so less likely to have interference. And make sure to choose Auto or 20/40 MHz for channel bandwidth. That will both give you most bandwidth and be compatible with all of your devices.
Update your firmware
Yes, I know this sounds like your mother's advice to eat your broccoli, and you've heard it so many times you've tuned it out. But it works. Manufacturers regularly tweak hardware's firmware, and it leads to faster, more reliable performance. So check out your documentation about how to update your router's firmware. It's easy to do, and it has a big payoff.
Properly locate your router
Moving a router to a different location can make a surprisingly big difference in network speed on your devices. Before moving your router, checks network speeds on your devices using a service like SpeedTest. Then move it to different locations, using SpeedTest each time, until you find the best location.
Use repeaters and extenders
Repeaters, extenders, and add-on antennas are great ways to extend your network's range to places in your house that currently gets poor network coverage. These devices generally cost under $50 and are relatively straightforward to set up. There are also Powerline-to-WiFi devices such as the Linksys PLWK400 that uses your home's AC outlets to extend your wireless network's reach. They're particularly good for extending your network to difficult places like basements.