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Tips to get the most out of your home Wi-Fi

Most people don’t bother with the Wi-Fi router — it’s typically set up by the service provider or IT guy and it remains in that state for its usable life.

However, you can fix many issues like low coverage, add features to your Wi-Fi setup and stop people from stealing your Wi-Fi quite easily. We show you how.

Get the router placement right
Get the router placement right

If you have trouble with the Wi-Fi coverage in your home, it is most likely because of where the router is kept. The range of a typical home router is around 100 feet.

Ideally, you should place your Wi-Fi router in a central location, away from walls, mirrors and other electrical equipment. The router signal is omnidirectional — it travels in every direction, so placing it centrally would increase the coverage throughout your home.

Plus, make sure that your router is placed in a high position as the Wi-Fi signals travel downwards. We recommend placing it at 3/4th the height of your room as that is far enough from the ceiling to avoid any signal interruption.

Buy larger antennas
Buy larger antennas

The default antenna on your router is not necessarily the best one available. Most manufacturers cut costs by using the cheapest available antennas on their router. The good thing is that you can easily switch the default antenna on most routers with enhanced versions. The antennas can be easily removed as they can be screwed off by hand.

You will see multiple options starting from as low as Rs 500 with free shipping. Keep in mind that high-gain antennas typically emit signals in one direction — so you might have to place your router accordingly. Otherwise, get a booster antenna that works the same way as the standard antenna but increases the range and strength.

Adjust router software
Adjust router software

Most of us never bother to look at the various settings and tweaks available in the router software interface itself. Some routers come with settings for adjusting transmission power (also marked as TX power) — increasing the transmission power will lead to improvements in coverage area instantly. You can also switch from the default wireless broadcast channel to another one to improve your Wi-Fi signal.

Most routers work on a default channel — if there are too many routers around using the same broadcast channel, it leads to drop in performance due to interference. In your router software setting, try and switch between various channels to find the one that shows improved performance and then use that channel.

Use repeaters
Use repeaters

Another easy way to increase your Wi-Fi signal is to install repeaters in your home. A repeater takes signal from your Wi-Fi router and pushes it forward to increase its range. You can easily get compact repeaters the size of a smartphone wall plug — these can be permanently plugged into a wall outlet.

You need to make sure that the router and repeater have the same Wi-Fi SSID name and security settings. Next, you will need to configure the IP address of the routers — give them static IP address so that they do not conflict with each other and switch off the DHCP setting on the repeater.

In addition, the router and repeater will have to be configured on separate broadcast channels. Once you are done with these settings, place the repeater at such a place where it catches the signal from the router.

Third-party hacks
Third-party hacks

There are two third-party hacks that have been known to help in improving the signal and coverage area of the router. The first one is using a soft drink aluminum can. Just cut the can in half to create a parabolic (symmetrical curve) shape and place it around your Wi-Fi antenna.

It will push the signal towards one direction and boost the signal too. Or you could just use ordinary aluminum foil. The process is similar: Fold the foil into a parabola shape and place it around your router’s antenna to improve the signal.

Router security
Router security

If you’re new to changing router settings, it can seem like a daunting task. To get started with this, you need to know your router’s IP address. On a Windows PC, open the command prompt (Win+R then type cmd) and type ipconfig. Once ipconfig is open, look for the ‘Default Gateway’ IP address. On a MAC, open Network eway’ IP address. On a MAC, open Network Preferences and copy the IP address listed next to ‘Router.’

Once you type in the router’s IP address into a web browser, you will be prompted for a username and pass word. This is typically admin and pass word (or admin and admin) if you haven’t word (or admin and admin) if you haven’t changed it. Once in, you can change the basic settings for the router such as the Wi-Fi name, security type and password.

To make your network more secure, choose the WPA2-AES type of security. You can also choose to stop broadcasting the Wi-Fi network. In such a case, the network name will not be visible from any device. To connect it manually, you will need to know the Wi-Fi name and password.

If you’re paranoid about security, most routers also have a setting for MAC ID filtering. Meaning that you can enter the MAC IDs of all your hardware and only those IDs will be allowed to connect.

Protecting your Wi-Fi from intruders
Protecting your Wi-Fi from intruders

This is a tricky one. Maybe you gave out your Wi-Fi password to a few friends at a party (and it spread.) Or maybe, a neighbour figured out your password and is piggybacking off your Wi-Fi internet without your permission.

Whatever the case, you need to lock it down because it’s a potential security hazard. The easiest way to do this is to get the Wireless Network Watcher — a free, Windows-only software program that can scan the Wi-Fi you’re connected to. It displays a list of all the devices that are currently connected to the network, with their IP address, MAC address and some other details.

If this doesn’t work for you, you can go into your router’s settings page and look for a section on ‘connected devices.’

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