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Improving wireless performance
Looking for help improving the performance of your wireless connection? This guide has some useful tips and solutions.
- Range - i.e. the distance between your router and computer
- Obstructions - e.g. thick walls, fish tanks, fridges and radiators
- Interference - other equipment in the house using 2.4GHz
- Put your router in pride of place
- Changing channel - looking at the settings on your router
- Refresh the connection
- Restart your router - turning it off, then back on again really can help
- Update wireless drivers
- Third party wireless software issues
- Older wireless devices
- Update your computer
In general, the further your computer is from your wireless router, the lower the signal strength will be. When the signal strength is low, there's a higher chance that you'll experience dropping connections, and the speed of the wireless connection will decrease. The range is affected by obstructions and interference.
Obstructions between your computer and wireless router make for lower signal strength; different materials have different effects. We've listed a number of obstacles you may have in your house, and suggest that you try and relocate your router where possible to see if the situation improves:
- Very high - metal
- High - concrete
- Medium - marble
- Medium - bricks
- Medium - stone walls
- Medium - water - (i.e. enclosed in a fish tank)
- Low - glass
- Low - plaster
- Low - wood
The following items can cause wireless interference:
- Other wireless routers, e.g. a neighbour's
- Cordless phones
- Baby monitors
- Microwave ovens
- HiFi speakers
- Computers - if obstructing wireless cards
- Older CRT computer monitors or TVs
- Wireless keyboards or mice
- Bluetooth devices
- Any other wireless devices using the 2.4GHz frequency range
The further away the source of interference is from the wireless router, the less chance there is that it will cause an issue.
Where you position your router can make a big difference to the speed of your connection.
- Do: Put it on a shelf or table
- Don't: Put it on the floor - especially if you've got thick carpets
- Do: Place it away from sources of interference such as microwave ovens, baby monitors cordless phones and HiFi speakers
- Try not to: Obstruct the wireless signal between your router and device - thick walls, fish tanks, fridges and radiators can all cause problems
- Try to: Move your router close to where you use the internet the most, for example in the middle of your house
Changing the frequency of your router can help to improve your wireless performance. With a Bright Box 2 on Fibre Broadband, you can even change the wireless band. You'll find more help with this in our guides below:
Search our help channel for more help changing channel with other routers.
If the connection drops, you may need to refresh the connection. Messages like Limited or Limited or no connectivity may be received on a Windows computer. On Apple Mac's, the AirPort icon might display an exclamation mark or blink between grey and black.
The tips below may help:
- Internal cards on laptops. Try turning the wireless switch on the laptop off for a few seconds, then back on.
- USB wireless adaptors. Unplug the wireless adaptor for 20 seconds, then plug it back in.
- Apple AirPort. Click the wireless fan, and select turn AirPort off, wait a few seconds, then click turn AirPort on.
From time to time, it can help to turn your router off, then back on again. To do this:
- Turn your router (and Openreach modem if you have one) off at the power
- Wait a minute
- Turn it back on again
- It will take around a minute to restart and for your connection to come back on
If you're using an inbuilt wireless adaptor, it may help to contact the manufacturer to see if any driver updates are available. These might improve wireless connectivity and even performance.
If you're using wireless software on your computer that's not provided by Windows or Apple this may be the cause of the intermittent connection problem. We suggest you use Windows or Apple software to manage your wireless connection, and disable the third party wireless software. The manufacturer of your computer should be able to assist with this, if you're unable to locate an option to disable the software.
If you have older wireless devices connected to your router, these can cause the speed of your wireless connection to reduce.
Try turning off older devices as a test, then restart your router and see if the wireless performance improves.
It may help to contact the manufacturer to see if any driver updates are available. These might improve wireless connectivity.
We strongly recommend that you update your operating system with the latest service packs. This is not only for security reasons, but also because many wireless connectivity issues are fed back to Microsoft and Apple and then improved with new releases.