Many of us are more reliant than ever before on the stability and speed of our internet connection, now that the pandemic has forced us to work from home and many children are engaged in remote learning. If your home internet connection is not performing at the level necessary to support your needs, consider the options below to make it work for you.
Check your internet connection
Be sure to check that the internet connection coming to your home is strong. Contact your internet service provider and have them check the strength of the signal.
Check your internet speed
It could be that the internet speed you’re paying for isn’t strong enough, or your modem may not be working properly and may need to be replaced. A modem transmits data via the internet to and from your home. Yet even if you’re paying for a particular internet speed, that may not be what you’re getting. Consider testing the speed by using free applications such as Speedtest or Fast.com. Contact your internet service provider to find out if there are options for increasing your internet speed. Every household’s needs are unique, so your service provider should be able to tell you the proper speed necessary to support your family’s activities, taking into account factors such as multiple people working from home, remote learning, streaming, and number of smart devices.
Consider switching internet service providers
It may be time to look into a different internet service provider if your current provider isn’t able to meet your needs. For example, if you’re still connecting through a digital subscriber line (DSL) through your local phone company, there may be alternatives now available in your area, such as cable or fiber internet. DSL is generally the slowest option, while cable and fiber connections are faster.
Replace your router
A router connects internet traffic from a modem to all WiFi-enabled devices, such as laptops, tablets, and cell phones. If your connection is bad even when standing next to the router, you should look into replacing the router. Some options include the Netgear Nighthawk R7000P, or the tp-link Archer A7. If your connection is good while standing next to the router, but you are having issues in other areas of your home, continue reading the options below.
Connect directly to your router using an Ethernet cable
If possible, you may be able to connect a device directly to the router using an Ethernet cable. This type of wired connection is faster than wireless, but this may not be an option depending on the location of your router and your workspace, and the number of devices requiring a connection. So if you need WiFi, and you’ve tried all of the above options for improving your internet connection with no success, continue reviewing the options below.
Secure your WiFi connection
Make sure you have a strong password on your WiFi connection; otherwise, neighbors could be piggybacking off your connection and slowing it down. It’s also an important aspect of security if you’re working from home. You should be using a strong encrypted connection, either WPA or WPA2. Go to your networking and internet settings on your device and look for WiFi properties to determine your type of connection. If you don’t have WPA or WPA2, call your internet service provider and ask them to secure the connection.
Check to be sure your devices are connecting to the proper network
Devices may sometimes attach to lower speed hotspots rather than your home’s high-speed network.
Move the router
Consider moving your router to a more central location in your home and not in an enclosed space. While it may be tempting to store the router in your home office or inside a cabinet in the corner of your home, those locations can make it difficult for the signal to reach all areas of the home. This can be especially problematic if you work in multiple locations in your home, have multiple people who need WiFi coverage throughout the home, or require the signal to penetrate through walls. Also consider mounting the router to the wall, preferably elevated if possible.
If none of the above options have improved your connection, then you may want to look into extending your WiFi coverage using WiFi extenders. Even if you have a high-speed connection using the best router in an ideal location, your home may not be built for the range you need and may require additional hardware to strengthen the signal. These devices are plugged into an outlet, receive a signal from your router, and then extend it further. The extended signal usually isn’t as strong as the signal coming straight from the router, so you will likely need to position yourself fairly close to the extender to get the maximum benefit. Various options include the Linksys RE7000, Netgear Nighthawk X6S Tri-Band WiFi Mesh Extender, or the tp-link AC2600 WiFi Range Extender.
If WiFi extenders don’t solve the problem, consider installing a mesh WiFi system to replace your existing router. Rather than rebroadcasting the single router’s signal as a WiFi extender would do, multiple routers are used to create a more expansive WiFi system. Although more expensive than most WiFi extenders, a mesh system may be your best fit if you have exhausted all other options. Various options include the Netgear Orbi WiFi System (RBK13) AC1200, Google Nest WiFi, eero WiFi, or the tp-link deco WiFi.