Nothing beats Wi-Fi. Not wireless 3G networks or blazing-fast 4G.
With Wi-Fi you get a robust DSL or fiber Internet connection sent to you over the air–the best of both worlds. That said, it can be frustrating when you can't get a signal in every corner of your home or office. That toilet selfie has to get sent.
Don't worry. You don't have to go out and buy the latest router (though that helps). In fact, you don't have to spend a cent. You can boost your Wi-Fi signal by following a few simple steps...
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Where you put your router counts. Proper placement can be the difference between getting frustrated because your fave Nicki Minaj Metallica YouTube video loads to a crawl and downloading with no delay.
Think of your router as a radio tower–which it actually is when you really think about it. For starters, place your router in the center of your home or office for as much coverage as possible. Point the router's antenna/antennae upwards. Then just like a radio tower, get it as high as you can.
Radio signals travel through walls, but you'll want your router to be as unobstructed as possible (because walls can still weaken the signal). Don't stuff it in your cabinet or hide it under a box, or, worse, inside a table drawer where your precious circa-1999 dirty VHS tape collection is. Show it loud and proud!
FIND THE RIGHT CHANNEL
Like your boob tube, your router has to pick a certain channel to send data wirelessly. Unlike your boob tube, there will be a problem if your neighbors' routers also use the same channel. The main issue: interference. This is because routers are radio devices and radio devices can affect each other's performance.
If nearby Wi-Fi networks are set on the same channel, then interference can become so bad that you'll experience significantly slower signals. Think of this as that moment when all of your loudmouth friends blab at the same time, but only one is actually talking to you. You (the device that the Wi-Fi signal is transmitted to) will find it harder to listen. Gets?
Fortunately, you can change the Wi-Fi channel. Just go to the router's default program (usually done by typing its IP address found inside the user manual or printed on the device itself) and go to the change channel option and you're good to go. You can also use apps like Wi-Fi Analyzer to determine if you really need to change channels and see other stuff related to signal strength. In any case, be careful with tweaking any settings. Don't change anything if you're unsure or if you don't really have to.
MAX OUT YOUR SETTINGS
This is a bit of a no-brainer, but you never know. Make sure your router is set to its fastest setting (or "standard" which is a geek term used to describe the maximum speed it can handle). Currently that's the AC standard (up to 1.3Gbps), which is faster than the more traditional N standard (up to 600Mbps), which in turn blows by the older G standard (up to 54Mbps). If your router has AC, then use AC. If your router's stuck with N or G, then it's time to buy a new one, grandpa.
To clarify, you can't go beyond the speeds your service provider dictates. But choosing the right setting helps you maximize what you already have.
GET RID OF ADDITIONAL INTERFERENCE
Electronic appliances in your house may be interfering with your Wi-Fi signal, especially if they use the same 2.4GHz frequency used by standard routers (to be sure, check out your gadgets' documentation). Imagine the scenario below, with the photobomber as the interfering appliances and you the other kid who freaks out because of usad-pagong Internet speeds:
Okay, it's not that bad as in you won't get Wi-Fi signal anymore, but the strength might be compromised. The common culprits in a household? Wireless telephones (of the landline variety), microwaves, and baby monitors. Turn them off and if you experience a speed hike then get rid or replace them, or at least keep them away from your router. If you have the cash then you could buy substitutes which use a different frequency.
A simple parabolic (bowl-shaped) tinfoil cutout placed on your router's antenna (if it has one) will boost your Wi-Fi signal dramatically. It also has the added bonus of making your router look like a cool WWII radio transmitter.
But beware: It will also make your Wi-Fi signal more directional. That means if you point your Wi-Fi "radio dish" at your bedroom, you run the risk of losing signal in the sala. Bummer. But hey, if you're desperate then, why not?
MAKE YOUR OWN REPEATER
Normally, Wi-Fi repeaters (gadgets that extends Wi-Fi signal) are bought in gadget shops, but if your ass is broke like it's January 1, then go make yourself one. If you have an old router lying around, you can turn it into a repeater. If it already has a repeater function built-in (you could check via the user manual or online product page), then just turn it on and make it compatible with your main router's settings by following these steps.
If it lacks repeater functionality, then you'll have to use custom software on your old router. This is a trickier process. Fortunately, the Internet has no shortage of geeks willing to help non-geeks out. Check out this nifty how-to page from Life Hacker to get started.
With your repeater your Wi-Fi can now reach the far-flung spots in your multi-hectare estate, such as your air-conditioned piggery.
Many networking problems can be solved by simply rebooting. If your laptop keeps getting dropped, reboot your router, your laptop, or both. Better yet, schedule your router to reboot every day. Too lazy to set a schedule? Unplug the router when you wake up and plug it in again after counting to ten.
Images and GIFs via Imgarcade.com, Dvice.com, Ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com, and Apex.bostco.com