Router Hacks to Help You Get the Most out of Wifi

May 7, 2020

If your wifi has struggled in recent months, you’ve probably already tried the standard troubleshooting methods. You’ve unplugged your router and plugged it back in, found a new, more central spot to put it, or moved your workstation closer to your router. After all of this, if your network still can't handle your work from home needs and your kid's schoolwork, you need to dive a little deeper. Here are three advanced hacks to boost your signal:


1. Update Your Router

Most people don’t even know that this is an option, but like all of your other computerized systems, routers need updates too. Keeping the firmware up to date can boost your wifi signal and help protect you from dangerous malware. Here are the steps:

  1. Launch a web browser on your computer or other device and connect to your network.

  2. Enter the IP address of the router into the search bar in the browser. The IP address is usually found on a sticker on the router.

  3. Log in with the admin username and password (also found on the info sticker on your router.)

  4. Select an option called firmware update or router update. You may have to do some searching to find the right update for your model of router. 

  5. Wait until your router finds and installs the updated firmware. This process can take a while, so be patient and don’t interrupt it. If you’ve waited half an hour or more and it seems to be unresponsive, you can unplug the router and then restart it.


2. Change the Channel

Wifi networks broadcast on a channel, when you install a new router, it will usually broadcast on an ‘auto’ channel, typically channel 1 or channel 6. The problem is that if too much traffic is on that channel, it can interrupt your wifi signal. Your neighbors might all be using the same channel and causing a traffic jam. Wifi channels use the same radio frequencies as other equipment you may be using in your home- things like radios, cell phones, and baby monitors. These can also create too much traffic on a wifi channel. Here’s how to change the channel on your router:

  1. Follow the same two steps as above (under update your router) to log in to your router using your IP address, username, and password. Or if your router came with a software download, go into that and log in as an admin. 

  2. Go to Settings and look for Wireless Settings.

  3. Find the option called 'Channel' and look to see what it is set on. It will probably say 'auto.'

  4. Select a different channel

  5. Save the settings and wait for your router to restart.



3. Change your QoS Settings

You’re in the middle of an important video conference when your wifi suddenly takes a nosedive. It turns out that someone else in your household decided to download some audio or watch Netflix, and all your wifi power went to that. If you have a newer model router, you can choose which applications and clients are prioritized. These are called QoS (quality of service) settings. Some routers allow very specific prioritization i.e., Skype over Netflix. Others are more general, i.e., video over audio. To access these settings, do the following:

  1. Log in to your router as an admin

  2. Choose Settings and then Wireless Settings

  3. Locate QoS Settings (Usually in a subcategory below Wireless Settings)

  4. Configure your QoS rules by rearranging applications or clients and choosing which ones get the highest priority. If your router’s software is not intuitive, contact the manufacturer for help. 

  5. Once you’ve reconfigured things, save the new settings and reboot your router.

Now you are ready to troubleshoot your wifi like a pro. If your wifi is as good as it can be and your devices are still struggling, consider having them evaluated by a device repair professional. The problem may be with your device and not your internet connection.