By Titus Bodo
Wi-Fi is probably the biggest thing in wireless technology since the telegraph. It can power devices at a distance and even send large amounts of data in a matter of seconds. Though many prefer wired connections for their PCs and other devices, there's no arguing with the fact that with regards to convenience, Wi-Fi will always come out on top. But there are problems with Wi-Fi that many of us would like to fix but wouldn't know where to start with. In this piece, we'll try to uncover some of the ways in which you can boost your signal without any major expenditure like buying repeaters and such.
#1: Change the Channel
Not the TV, dude, your router! When you set up a router, it picks a default channel that provides connectivity to your network. Normally, the least congested channel is chosen by default, but in your case, this may not be true. But to do this you need a special tool, like the inSSIDer - it's a free tool and it gives tons of information about your network, but don't worry about all those graphs that give you an overload of data; just check the column that says 'channel' and see how many are on the same channel as you, in your area. Once you've identified the least crowded one, go to your router's interface and change it to that (you can see how to get there in the router's user manual.)
#2: Update your Firmware
Network device manufacturers periodically update the software that is used on their routers. Though business devices get automatic notifications when there's a new version available, consumer units may not have this as a standard feature. If the channel-changing doesn't work, then head to the manufacturer's website and check for updates that will make your connectivity better. Most fixes address connectivity issues so it's likely that you'll find a solution in this method. Most consumers don't even know that they need to regularly update their firmware, so be one of the first few to be in on this secret.
#3: Update your Driver Firmware
Another great method is to download and install new firmware for the wireless adapter on your PC, laptop or other device. A good thing to remember is that major connectivity issues can be addressed by fixing your router and your wireless adapter. By updating the firmware, you're riding the crest of a wave set up by the manufacturer to fix ongoing issues such as connectivity, stability, etc. Do this and you'll probably be the first of your friends to tap into this little nugget.
#4: Change the Router's Position
This is probably the least technical of all solutions, but may end up being the best. It's possible that your router is nested somewhere between the modem and the power strip behind your PC, on a table, in the corner of the room furthest away from your door! That might give you a clue as to why visitors in the living room can't get a decent signal from your router. You can buy an additional cable if what you have isn't enough to get the router into a more elevated and central position, but then it would be a 'secret... for free' anymore. However, even a minor change in position can often strengthen the signal to a surprising extent. Try it and see if that was the problem in the first place.
#5: Get DD-WRT Software
This one's a bit dicey because getting this software to optimize and enhance your router's performance may not be an easily reversible process. Besides, if your router is under warranty when you do the installation, it may get voided altogether. Though not highly recommended for those with little or no technical knowledge about how this software works and how to uninstall it, it is a tremendous way to boost the performance of your entire system. The software is open-source so it's free to use, and the site http://www.dd-wrt.com can tell you whether your router is supported.
These are all great ways to boost your Wi-Fi signal for free. With this arsenal of secret methods in your hands, odds are that you'll find at least one (maybe more) of them gives you the kind of signal boost that you're looking for. Happy surfing!