It's Not You, It's Your Horrible Wi-Fi.
With millions social distancing, self-isolating, distance learning, Zooming and binge watching Tiger King, odds are your WiFi is being tested more than it ever has before. If you've recently purchased a mesh router like Orbi or Google Nest Wifi, you probably haven't missed a beat but if you are still running the five year old modem-router combo from your ISP, you're probably lagging behind (pun intended). Use this guide to diagnose your slow WiFi, attempt to fix it for free and/or upgrade it to 2020 standards.
First things first - you need to establish a baseline for your current speed and coverage. If your home has any dead spots, you probably already know where they are - if you don't, ask any teenager with a cellphone in your house. You can do a speed test easily and for free in just a couple of steps.
How to conduct a speed test.
- Go into the room with your router & modem and unplug both for 10 seconds.
- Plug them back in and let your internet connection come back online.
- Turn Wifi off on your phone, wait 10 seconds and then turn it back on.
- Open an internet browser & go to www.speedtest.net
- Run the test and write down your Upload & Download speeds.
What's a good speed? For streaming HD movies and a just couple of devices like cellphones, tablets and a video doorbell, you'll want at least 10mbps download & 5mbps upload.
You'll want to run this test in different rooms in your house and for both of your networks - if you have two. Older routers generally have two separate networks - a 2.4ghz and a 5ghz Wifi network - with different names. The 2.4ghz Wifi network is slower but can travel further. The 5ghz Wifi network is faster but has a shorter range.
If you have a ton of devices streaming movies and making video calls plus a lot of smart devices like the IQConnect Smart Plug
or IQCam Security Camera
, you'll need at least 25mbps download and 10mbps upload speeds. It's important to make sure you are getting the speeds you are paying for from your ISP - if not, call them and find out why. If you've had the same modem/router combo for years from your ISP, it might need a software update or you can ask if there is a newer model that they could swap out to provide you with a better experience. I've done this in the past and they swapped out my modem for free but I did need to go to their office with the old equipment to get the newer unit.
What if my speed is good but my range is not? The signal from your Wifi router is a circle with the router in the center. If your router is in a room close to the exterior or corner of your home, up to 75% of your signal is being transmitted your neighbors. A low-cost solution would be to move your router to a more central location by purchasing a long Cat5e cable and finding a better spot to increase coverage inside your home. Keep in mind that walls and different building materials will weaken your Wifi signal.
If you are still having Wifi issues, you might have to resort to paying for faster speeds from your ISP and/or upgrade your router to a newer mesh system. I'm using Google's mesh Wifi network and it has been pretty much flawless and we have 3 phones, 2 smart TV's, 4 security cameras, 1 laptop, 4 smart plugs and 8 smart wall switches.