Saturday, November 21, 2009

How to boost your wireless network

If 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

When possible, place your wireless router in a central location in your home. If your 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 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 file cabinets)

Metal, 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

The antennas supplied with your router are designed to be omnidirectional, 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 high-gain antenna that focuses the wireless signals in one direction. You can aim the signal in the direction you need it most.

4. Replace your computer's wireless network adapter

Wireless 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, high-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

Wireless 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.

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