A lot of people complain that their Apple TV doesn’t work well, as they wait forever for
music or video to start. Sometimes it’s that their tablet gets Internet in the living room, but not in the bedroom. This is often a Wi-Fi issue rather than an Apple TV, phone or tablet
problem. Unfortunately wireless networking isn’t always straightforward.
You see, at lot of us think that we just set up our Wi-Fi router somewhere and our home has a magical wireless networking blanket snuggly wrapped around it. For some lucky folks, this may be the case. For most of us though, there are a plethora of issues that can make Wi-Fi less than ideal. These issues include home size/layout, building material, router location, router and interference (microwave ovens, neighbour’s Wi-Fi, etc.).
You may not notice Wi-Fi issues with light Internet browsing or email, but try heavier use like Netflix or iTunes streaming video and you’re experience goes from OK to down right aggravating. Or perhaps some rooms are two thumbs up, but others are left in Wi-Fi wasteland.
So what can you do? Here are some things to try:
- Wire it: As a general rule, if you can plug in an Ethernet cable, then plug one in.
Going wireless should be a last resort. If your home is not pre-wired for networking, see if its reasonable to run a cable from your router. If you’re lucky enough to be building or renovating your home, plan out your wired networking to match your needs.
- Change the channel: Most if not all Wi-Fi routers allow you to change the channel being used for your Wi-Fi. You can use a Wi-Fi analyzer tool (see below) to see what the Wi-Fi looks like in your home. Then use a channel that is least used. Some routers will also let you turn up the signal power.
- Move your Wi-Fi router: Your Wi-Fi router should be close to the centre of your home or near devices like iPads that need wireless networking. People often want to put their router out of sight, but often it’s really bad places for wireless such as in the basement or under a bed. As a general rule, metal around a router, like heating ducts, pipes, wires and box frame mattresses are death for Wi-Fi signals. Metal studs in the wall and old plaster can be bad too.
- Get a new Wi-Fi router: That $19.99 Wi-Fi router looked like such a bargain in the flyer, but you’ll pay for it in different ways. The same goes for most Wi-Fi routers that Internet providers include with their service. A great Wi-Fi router truly makes a huge difference. Our current favourite is the ASUS RT-N66U (or ASUS RT-AC66U is you’re looking for 802.11AC). Its pricey, but its a real beast (and we mean that in a good way).
- Try power line extenders: Power line extenders allow your to use your home’s
electricity wiring for your computer network. Older generation power line extenders were quite horrid, but the new ones like D-Link’s are pretty good with decent data flow. That said, they don’t work in all cases such as homes with multiple breaker panels or really poor power circuits. Many manufactures also provide adapters with Wi-Fi access points build in (see next point).
- Add a Wi-Fi access point: To better cover a large or a problematic home, you can add one or more Wi-Fi access points like a Linksys or Apple Airport Express. (As a bonus, the Airport Express can be used for AirPlay music.) To be clear, we’re talking about adding an access point connected with an Ethernet cable. The devices that just rebroadcast your Wi-Fi signal are temptingly simple, but they will likely only cause you grief in the long run. (They may help get a Wi-Fi signal further, but they really are one of those interference devices mentioned above.) You can also set up an access point with the same Wi-Fi name and passcode, so your devices can simply choose the best signal.
You can test out the Wi-Fi in your home using free tools like InSSIDer for Android devices. Sorry iPhone and iPad folks there isn’t a version for you, but there is for Mac and PC. If you use these apps there is no hard threshold, but if you’re seeing something around -80 or less, you’re likely having a pretty poor time with your Wi-Fi. Walk around your home and test Wi-Fi strength for different router locations.
If you need help with any of this, reach out to us and we’d be happy to help plan and update your home’s networking that fits your needs and budget.