10 reasons your Wi-Fi speed stinks and what you can do about it: How to improve your Wi-Fi speed: How to boost Wi-Fi signal 2016

Christina Mercer
Christina Mercer

Christina Mercer

After graduating from the University of Nottingham reading philosophy and theology in 2013, Christina was appointed marketing executive at a tech start-up specialising in mobile apps. She has a keen interest in the mobile platform and innovative tech.


Slow Wi-Fi signal can leave even the calmest person ready to throw their router out the window. Here's why your Wi-Fi signal is slow, plus we explain how to speed up your internet connection and boost your Wi-Fi strength and connectivity

Whether you're a small business, a startup relying on as home broadband connection or a company with bigger connectivity needs, read on to boost your Wi-Fi connection...

(See also: What is Li-Fi?)

Additional reporting from Sandro Villinger.

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© Speed Test

How to improve your Wi-Fi speed: Conduct a speed test

First you've got to establish the actual speed you're receiving. To do this simply visit a speed testing site, we like Speed Test. From there click begin and it will tell you your upload and download speed. The UK average download speed was around 22.8Mbps last year.

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© iStock/ KreangchaiRungfamai

How to improve your Wi-Fi speed: Change your wireless router

The latest Wi-Fi standard is 802.11ac. This standard and the 802.11n are the most desireable for fast connectivity. If your router is either 802.11b or 802.11g standard a new router would definitely boost your Wi-Fi speed and provide a longer range of connectivity. If you've been a loyal customer, most internet providers will send you the newest router for free but others may charge a delivery cost of around £3-£6. Here's how to check what Wi-Fi standard you're running on:

1. Click on the Wi-Fi shortcut (usually found on the bottom right of PC screen)

2. Hover your cursor over the broadband service you are using

3. The standard will be listed next to 'Radio Type'

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© iStock/4maksym

How to improve your Wi-Fi speed: Choose the right channel

The day your router is set up, it automatically detects the least crowded channel and makes that its default. However, with the arrival of new neighbors or offices nearby, the situation may change quickly. All of a sudden, one channel may be used by a handful of routers while others are deserted. There are some great tools that will help determine whether you should change Wi-Fi channel.

Software like InSSIDer and NirSoft analyses the entire Wi-Fi spectrum and gives you details about your home network as well as channel usage meaning you can change to a less busy channel. Most internet providers will have step-by-step tutorials on how to do this as procedures can differ.

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© iStock/Henrik5000

How to improve your Wi-Fi speed: Use your router's 5GHz network

The 2.4GHz frequency is crowded. Not just with neighbors using the same frequency, but also baby monitors, cordless phones, microwave ovens and more. Modern 802.11n and 802.11ac routers offer "dualband", which means they're sending two network signals; one at 2.4GHz, and one at 5GHz, which is far less crowded and offers more channels.

One drawback is that many device makers only go with the 2.4 GHz receiver. This includes all portable gaming consoles, and also a slew of smartphones. To get a speedy connection activate both networks and connect the mobile devices to the 2.4 GHz network, just enabling the 5GHz network for your laptops and desktops.

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© iStock/Max Kabakov

How to improve your Wi-Fi speed: Limit your router's frequency band

Sometimes you can't have the luxury of choosing the 5GHz frequency band or selecting a "lonely" channel. In such cases, it may be worthwhile to limit your router to sending out signals at intervals of 20MHz. For small businesses with guest Wi-Fi, limit the guest access to 20MHz giving you and your employees a stronger signal with fewer dropouts.

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© iStock/Zorabcde

How to improve your Wi-Fi speed: Update your routers firmware

An easy, yet often forgotten piece of advice. Make sure that your router's firmware is up-to-date - especially if you've purchased a new one. Expect bandwidth, feature set and resiliency to signals to increase with the first few firmware updates. The latest firmware update can be downloaded from the manufacurer's website and is relatively simple to update as most have a helpful how-to wizard.

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© iStock/UygarGeographic

How to improve your Wi-Fi speed: Make sure the Wi-Fi adapter/driver is up-to-date

Sometimes a USB or built in wireless adapter/driver cannot fully communicate with your PC or laptop and updating it could give it the push it needs to get working again. There are a few free tools to make this proccess easier such as Driver Talent which identifies the problem and offers the best downloadable update available for most operating systems. Mac operating systems can find software update solutions on the Apple website.

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© iStock/ Vkoletic

How to improve your Wi-Fi speed: Figure out the best spot for your router

Use a Wi-Fi heatmapping tool to measure the impact of distance, frequency changes and building structures on signal strength. Two tools that are great for this job are NetSpot for Mac and Heatmapper for Windows. Both tools allow you to track Wi-Fi coverage in your office or home. The more points you scan, the more exact your Wi-Fi heatmap. Once you're done, you end up with a map that shows you not just the signal strength but also the throughput of your Wi-Fi network. 

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© iStock/Weerapatkiatdumrong

How to improve your Wi-Fi speed: Check your router's eco settings

Some routers are set up with their "power savings" mode on by default. The goal: save a few milliwatts. Unfortunately, this commendable approach reduced bandwidth disproportionately. If you value bandwidth over minimal power savings, check out the router's setting and look for entries called "Transmission Power" or various Eco modes. Turn them OFF. Also, do check if your router sports some sort of "Automatic" transmission setting. You may want to turn it off and go "100 percent" all the time.

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© iStock/Squaredpixels

How to improve your Wi-Fi speed: Overcome the laws of physics

Unfortunately, the laws of physics sometimes stand in the way of proper wireless bandwidth and signal strength. The distance between your router and the wireless adapter is a more relevant factor than you might think so avoid placing it near thick brick or concrete walls. Placing the router higher up could make a difference to wireless signal.



Latest UK Updated 9:54am