Being online these days is non-negotiable. Every type of activity from businesses to fun can be done online. That’s why it is important to have good WiFi signal strength to ensure these activities go as smoothly as possible.
In this article, I’ll be explaining how to measure your WiFi signal strength, and if it’s low, how to improve the signal strength. The tips are quite easy to pull off so you won’t need to be tech-savvy to try them out.
Measuring WiFi Signal Strength
Because the speed of a wireless internet connection depends on its radio signal strength, it is always good to measure it regularly. It can help solve the slow connection and other internet related problems.
There are quite a few ways to measure the signal strength and sometimes these ways can give different results but that’s only because the tools used in measuring differences in how they approach measuring your signal strength. They also differ in the timing taken to complete the process.
The signal strength is quite different from the Network Bandwidth. It’s your ISP that determines the network bandwidth. Your router determines your signal strength.
While your signal strength is basically what determines how fast/slow your devices can access the internet. It also determines the range of the access point.
Using The Built-in Utility Option To Measure Signal Strength
This is the easiest way because it does not involve a lot of processes. Most operating systems like Windows have in-built tools that can help measure your wireless network connections.
It is quite easy in some cases to measure the signal strength. Here’s how to do it for some popular OS.
In Windows 10, navigate to the taskbar and click on your network icon.
You’ll see the wireless network you’re connected to. Check the bar icon beside the name of the wireless network.
There should be five bars if it’s excellent. If it’s just one bar, then your signal strength is terrible. The closer the number of bars is to five, the better the connection.
To get more detailed info, follow the navigation below.
Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center
When you’re in the Network and Sharing Center menu, look for the WiFi link and click on it.
You’ll be able to get more details in Mbps.
For Linux users, open a terminal and enter this command below to check out your signal strength.
iwconfig wlan0 | grep -i – color signal
Your result will be measured in dB.
The best signal strength should be around –50dBm. The more negative your value is, the worse your signal strength.
Mac users can just go to the top right-hand side of their menu bar and they’ll see their WiFi indicator.
For Android users, there are two options. You could use third-party apps to check your signal strength or you could go into your Settings menu and find out.
To find out through your Settings menu, follow the navigation below.
Settings > WiFi
Usually, you’ll be able to see the signal strength of the WiFi connection in the WiFi menu of your Android device.
It is important to point out that the steps aren’t the same for all Android devices because of different manufacturer specs.
iPhones also follow a similar pattern to the Android navigation above If you want to check your signal strength on your iOS devices.
How To Improve WiFi Signal Strength
Now that you know how to measure the signal strength, the tips below are on how to improve the strength especially if you measured it and found it quite low.
It is important that in cases where your network is slow and you think it might be your signal strength to first test the Internet coming into your office or home from your ISP.
You can test it by using an Ethernet cable and plugging it directly into your device.
If it works much faster than usual, then you’ll know that the problem is from your router. This can be solved by the tips below.
1. Updating Your Router Firmware
This is one of the easiest fixes you can try out because updates usually mean better features designed to give more speed and consistency to users.
There is no one sure method to upgrade your router because it depends on the Router’s manufacturer’s specs and designs.
Some of the more recent routers have made updates easy by providing an update feature in their administration interface.
All you’ll have to do is go to your router’s interface and click on the update button.
Other old router models however are not as easy. You will need to visit your router’s manufacturer’s website to download the update.
You’ll also have to upload the update you downloaded to your administration interface to finish the update process. It takes longer than usual but it is worth the effort.
2. Optimal Frequency Configuration Settings
Sometimes we can eke out a little more from our router settings if configured properly.
For folks who have dual-band routers, it is even more important to optimize the performance of the router by switching frequencies.
The more common frequency is the 2.4GHz band, you will be better served to switch to 5GHz.
The 5GHz band offers greater improvements over issues like interference from other connected devices and wireless networks. This is because it isn’t as commonly used as the 2.4GHz.
It also offers faster speed. There’s a drawback though. The 5GHz band has issues penetrating walls and obstacles. The range of its signal is also not as reaching as the 2.4GHz band.
To combat both bands’ weaknesses, you can just switch between the two at any time depending on which one has the better signal.
Some recent routers allow users to use the same passwords for both bands which makes it easier to automatically switch to whichever band has the better signal where you are.
3. Placing The Router In Optimal Positions
Most users like to place their routers out of sight in one locker or somewhere like a library at the back of the house.
This doesn’t help with the reach of the signal strength because it won’t be equal in all directions. Folks close to the part of the building where the router is will have more signal strength than others.
It is also important not to place the router in lockers or boxes especially if you plan on using the 5GHz band because that band does not work well with obstacles and its range is not as reaching.
The ideal or optimal placing point will be somewhere open at roughly the center of the building, somewhere not close to electronic appliances. The fewer walls between you and the router, the more your signal strength.
If you want to find out your Wi-Fi’s weak and strong spots, you could use some third-party apps that will help map out your network coverage.
4. Using A Range Extender Or Mesh WiFi System
If you’re struggling with signal strength, it might be because the building is too big for your single router to cover every part of it or maybe there are too many ways for the signal to penetrate.
You have a few options to choose from. You can try the inexpensive range extender that will transmit the signal from your router to your connected devices.
But if you want an increased range, it comes at a price. The mesh WiFi system is quite efficient at making sure every part of a building has good signal strength.
Instead of just extending or repeating a router’s signal, a mesh WiFi system works as a collection of units placed in key parts of the building.
It ensures that in every part of the building you’re in, you’ll be able to get the same signal strength.
In setting up the mesh system, you’ll connect one node to your router and place other nodes far enough to extend coverage to poor connection areas but still close enough to the router to be able to get a strong signal to transmit.
You can have technicians run Ethernet cables to each mesh unit to ensure your signal strength is solid. This little tweak is foolproof in improving WiFi signal strength.
5. Using QoS (Quality of Service)
Routers now allow users to limit or prioritize the allowed bandwidth of specific apps. This can help in offices because all you have to do is limit other non-useful apps and prioritize the apps needed for official use.
For example in offices where a lot of video calls and emails are used daily in transactions, you could prioritize mails and video calls over file downloads.
While the apps you prioritized will be fast, file downloads will be slow but that won’t affect you because you don’t use that feature much.
You can usually find the QoS settings in your administrator interface inside the Advanced menu in most recent routers.
The Most Helpful WiFi Tools
People today love Video-on-Demand. With streaming options such as YouTube, Netflix, and iflix, it’s easy to see why people are spoilt for choice these days.
However, many of the users pull out their hair due to weak WiFi, especially when you want to watch series and movies.
There is much advice seen in the web forums about this but most of them are useless or cost money.
In many cases, it is advised to simply purchase a new router or a repeater or to completely switch off the WiFi and use a cable connection
In this article, we are going to cover our Most Helpful WiFi Tools which will help you with WiFi issues.
1. Ekahau Heatmapper
Look for dead spots to eliminate Your wireless signal can be degraded by all manner of things in your home, including thick walls, floors, furniture, power cables and electrical devices – most notably, microwave ovens.
You can identify weak areas and dead spots by creating a Wi-Fi heat map of your
home using Ekahau Heatmapper to determine the fastest spot for carrying out urgent downloading.
You’ll need to install it on a laptop or Windows tablet, rather than a desktop PC, because you have to move around your living space to measure the signal.
Heatmapper works best if you have a map of your home to begin with – this can be a blueprint or something you’ve drawn yourself (as close to scale as possible). You can still use the software if you don’t have a map, but the results won’t be as useful.
To create the heatmap, move a few feet at a time and click to measure the Wi-Fi at that point to build up a color-coded map.
In addition to your own network, you can check any nearby Wi-Fi sources (ones belonging to a neighbor or the local Starbucks, for example) to see how they might be impacting on your signal.
2. Bitdefender Home Scanner
Spot and stop Wi-Fi thieves
Provided you’re using wireless security along with a strong password, the chances of anyone piggybacking on your Wi-Fi connection are slim, but you should check to make sure by using Bitdefender Home Scanner.
This free tool scans your Wi-Fi network and devices to look for weak passwords, as well as vulnerable or poorly encrypted communications.
In addition to spotting potentially unwanted users on your home Wi-Fi, who could be slowing down your downloads and streams, it offers detailed security recommendations
for your network.
To use the software, install and run it, then click the Start Using Home Scanner button. Confirm that you’re running it on your home network and it will go to work.
Note:- I have written a post for people looking for the Best Wireless Access Point to buy?, do read it If you are interested.
3. Who’s On My Wifi
Another way to expose neighbors leeching your Wi-Fi is to use Who’s On My Wifi (www.whoisonmywifi.com), which displays a list of all connected devices that you can go through and identify.
The software runs in the background, scanning your network every five minutes, and alerts you when any unknown devices are found.
4. Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector
Identifying the cause of slow or problematic Wi-Fi isn’t always easy. Sluggish downloads can be the result of congestion; too many people on your network using the connection at the same time; objects or electrical items degrading the signal; incompatible devices; or your neighbors broadcasting on the same wireless channel as you.
Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector can help you find, connect to and troubleshoot a wireless
network. It provides details about your current connection, including the SSID (name), Channel, and Mac and IP Addresses.
Areal-time graph shows the signal strength and history, while a dynamic radar shows all other connections in range, including their
names and relative distance.
Note:- I have written a post for people looking for the best wifi card to buy?, do read it If you are interested.
If your wireless signal is suffering as a result of stronger Wi-Fi nearby, you can use the free – but ad-supported–Wi-Fi Analyzer for Android to track down the problem. It shows all the wireless points nearby – including your own–along with their signal strength and the channel they are broadcasting on.
This information will help you troubleshoot any problems and shift to the best channel. You can switch between bands–2.4GHz and 5GHz – and change the view from Channel
Graph to Time Graph, Channel Rating, AP (access point) List or Signal Meter.
Use this freeware in order to check the data throughput. However, you will need two computers and the tool running on both.
If you have forgotten the access code for your WLAN, you can read it easily using
the software – without resetting the router.
WirelessKeyView recovers all wireless network security keys/passwords (WEP/WPA) stored in your computer by the ‘Wireless Zero Configuration‘ service of Windows XP or by the ‘WLAN AutoConfig’ service of Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, and Windows Server 2008.
With this tool, you will get an overview of all transfer rates of the network card of
your computers. The software measures the data in real-time.
You may like to watch our video on 8 Proven Ways to Speed Up Wi-Fi at Home that will help you to improve your wifi signal strength.
Measuring and boosting your WiFi signal strength is important in ensuring your internet connection stays strong and consistent.
Some of the tips above can be used regularly to improve performance even when it’s not poor. You should always check for upgrades and try to optimize settings for your router.