Keep your router up to date
If you haven’t performed a firmware update on your WiFi router, it’s likely overdue. Firmware is basically the operating system of your router. An update can give you much-needed performance updates and security updates. The basic idea is to login to the administrator console and use the update utility. The instructions vary from router to router, so check your router’s manual for instructions.
If there are other nearby WiFi routers using the same channel as yours it can cause interference and slow things down. If you have a Mac, there is a built-in utility to check. Select Option, click on the wireless icon and then select Open Network Diagnostics. For Windows, try this WiFi Analyzer. Run the install and click on the Analyze tab. We use this WiFi Analyzer for Android (Unfortunately there is nothing like this for iOS). Just install it and run it. Each of these tools will show you the nearby WiFi networks and what channel they are on. Notice that the graph shows the signal overlapping with other channels. This is just like listening to the radio and hearing other channels bleed over into what you’re trying to listen to. If there’s a less crowded channel, go into your router’s administrator console and change the channel.
If your router has, both, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, then you can change settings to choose the best option for what you are trying to do. The 5 GHz band is better for streaming video or anything that needs more bandwidth. Another option is to go back into the settings in the administrator console and set the SSID, or network name, of both bands to the same thing. Then the device can choose which band is best.
Other devices use some of the same frequencies as wireless routers and interfere with your router. For example, many cordless phones run on 2.4 GHz. If possible, try moving your WiFi router away from anything that causes interference. Also try to find a place where you can have a clear line of sight to the router and have minimal obstructions, like walls.
You can restart your WiFi router from within the administrator console. You can also unplug it for about ten seconds or so and then plug it in if that’s easier. This will reset all the connections and the fresh start may speed things up.
Make sure the problem isn’t your router
It’s possible your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is the problem. You can go to speedtest.net and run a test on your internet speed. It’s best to run this from a desktop computer or a laptop computer plugged directly into one of the ethernet ports on your router. Make sure WiFi on the computer or laptop is off. You can then run it again when you’re back on WiFi. Compare the results. If it’s about the same then you’re probably limited by your internet connection. Finally, you could look into switching providers or upgrading to a faster plan. If it’s a lot different then your router or other hardware is likely the problem.
Check Your Signal Strength
Your device should give you a way to see your signal strength. If you have a bad signal, try disconnecting from WiFi and reconnecting. If you are in a large house, you may need a range extender.
If you have tried everything else and your WiFi is still too slow, an upgrade is your next step. Until you’re ready to upgrade, here is one more thing to consider. Your WiFi speed is not solely dependent on your router. The radio in the device you’re using on WiFi is the other half of the equation. You can easily upgrade a computer with a USB radio like this one from Asus.