This story is part ofCNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
Having a reliable internet connection at home is vital — but Wi-Fi can be frustratingly finicky. Despite paying monthly fees to aand even if you had one professionally installed, you may still be spending too much time watching your phone, laptop, or streaming device try to stay connected. That’s a massive headache if you’re spending your weeks working from home, trying to install smart home gadgets, or if you just want to at the end of a long day.
The good news is that there is an easy way to optimize your Wi-Fi network and fix these issues, and it only takes a few minutes.
There isand while there is one To improve overall WiFi speed and coverage in your home, one of the most important factors is the location of your router. And note that the best spot isn’t always where the tech put it. So read on to learn about the best spot in your home for your router and other tricks for faster WiFi. You can also check out our selection for the the and the .
Find the right router for your space
First things first: It all starts withor other devices. Not all routers are created equal, and the size and layout of your home will determine what type of wireless network you need.
For most apartments and smaller homes (less than 1,500 square feet), a single wireless access point should be sufficient. However, if your router is several years old, you should consider upgradingor . This is the latest generation of Wi-Fi technology that gives you the fastest possible Wi-Fi speed and the best overall coverage.
For larger, multi-story homes, it’s worth consideringto provide consistent coverage throughout the home. Once the main access point is installed and you find that a far corner of your home doesn’t have solid WiFi coverage, simply add another node to that area. Problem solved.
To learn more, visit ourand if you’re not sure where to start when choosing your next router, consult our .
Regardless of whether you have a single access point or a mesh network, it still matters where you place the primary access point.
Where should you place your router?
When you first move into a new house or apartment, the modem is usually installed along the wall at the back of the house. That’s simply because that’s where the line comes in, and the technician’s job is to make the connection – not optimize your network. This part is up to you.
It’s tempting to leave everything where the technician put it. But this is unlikely to be an optimal location for your router.
Choose a central location
Routers send the signal in all directions. So if it stays in the corner of your home, a significant percentage of your wireless coverage will be broadcast outside of your home. That’s why it’s best to put the router in a central location to optimize the signal.
Installing a router opposite the modem throughout the house can prove problematic. It may be necessary to manually run an extra-long CAT5 or CAT6 Ethernet cable under the floor or along the underside of your walls, or enlist the help of powerline network adapters, which use your home’s electrical wiring to deliver an Internet signal from transfer point to point. But the improved WiFi coverage will be worth it.
Lift up the router
Routers tend to spread their strongest signals downward, so it’s best to mount the router as high as possible to maximize coverage. Try putting it high on a bookshelf or Attachment to the wall in an inconspicuous place.
Search online and you will find many custom wall mounts designed for specific routers such as: this stick-up mount for the mesh router. If you’re having trouble finding a good, elevated spot, something like this could be a great solution.
Avoid other electronics
Try to choose a location away from other electronic devices and large metal objects. The more walls, large obstacles, and electronics near your router, the higher the chance that something is interfering with the signal.
One type of electronic device that you should particularly avoid is the microwave oven, which emits a strong signal in the 2.4 GHz band, the same radio band that your router operates in. You should also be careful not to put your router behind a large TV. This can cause electronic interference while also physically blocking or disrupting the signal.
Along with the electronics, beware of bulky furniture that could limit the range of the signal. For example, Wi-Fi doesn’t move well through water. So if you have an aquarium in your house, try to avoid situations where it is between your router and the device that needs to connect.
Those weird looking antennae are actually important
Some routers have no antenna at all, others have up to eight. These antennas help direct the signal. If your router has two or more antennas, do not position them all in the same direction.
Instead, make them perpendicular to each other – position one horizontally and the other vertically. Or easily change the position of all antennas to cover a large angular range. You may need to experiment a bit to find the most effective configuration.
The signal from each of these antennas will come out as a wave that will spread in all directions, and this wave will be perpendicular to the antenna itself, so a vertical antenna will be more helpful in single-story houses, while a horizontal or angled antenna will emit a signal , which moves up, which might be more useful in a multi-story house.
Try to map the signal
In worst-case scenario situations, it can come in handy to map the signal around your home to see where there might be gaps or problem areas in your coverage. A few years ago we used NetSpot software to determine the signal strength — We ended up getting a great look at the vulnerabilities in our Wi-Fi network, which helped us secure things by moving our hardware to more optimal locations.
If you’re considering upgrading your router, be sure to check it out. Be careful in households with children to.