Have you encountered WiFi deadspots before? It’s an infuriating problem where a specific spot in a building can’t get a strong WiFi signal. It’s more than just a signal strength problem – it’s a problem where people in rooms beside you get strong signals, but you specifically receive weaker ones. This makes troubleshooting particularly frustrating, as it could be due to a myriad of different reasons.
If you’re having issues with WiFi strength, especially if other devices around you are receiving signals fine, try these steps.
The first thing you’ll want to do before buying any sort of additional equipment is ensuring your positioning is correct. It may seem bizarre that the specific location of your router and computer makes a difference, but it’s true!
Electronic devices that sit between the path between your computer and the router can affect the signal strength, especially devices such as microwaves, fridges, and landline phones. If you can, make sure there are no devices sitting in the path of the WiFi signal.
Check to see how many floors and walls the signal has to pass through to reach your machine. The more it has to travel through, the weaker the signal gets. Even worse, the more dense the wall or floor is, the weaker the signal gets. If you notice your signal has to go through some very solid obstructions, such as brick walls, it probably explains the signal weakness you’re receiving! Move the devices so that the signal doesn’t pass through these obstructions, if you can.
Something else to consider is elevating where the router is sitting, especially if the router is currently on the floor, and the deadspot appears a floor above. Placing it on a shelf or a table may help boost the signal strength to reach the upper floors.
Changing the Router or Adapter Antenna
If you’re using a PC, you may have a WiFi adapter that comes out of the back of the machine with an antenna. Your router may also come with antennae of its own. If this is the case, you can rotate these antennae to hunt for a better signal. How do you set the antennae? It depends on your situation, as no size fits all. Some people claim that both adapter and router antennae must be upright, some claim a router antenna is better sideways when broadcasting on different floors, and there’s even an article making a case for routers to have one antenna up and one sideways!
If fiddling with the antenna orientation doesn’t seem to fix anything, you can purchase a stronger antenna. They’re quite cheap, and you can unscrew the one on your adapter and screw the new antenna on easily. Even better, you can get antennae that stand on their own and come with a long extension cord that plugs into your adapter. This means you can place the antenna outside of WiFi deadspots, and enjoy stronger WiFi speeds without having to move your computer. This is particularly useful if you’re stuck for space and can’t afford to move the router or computer anywhere else.
Use A USB Adapter
But what if your computer and/or router doesn’t have an antenna? This is true for laptop users, as well as those who have computers with built-in WiFi on the motherboard. For the latter case, you can probably purchase and slot in a PCI-E wireless adapter just fine; however, what if you’re using a laptop, or you’ve run out of PCI-E slots? This is where USB adapters come in.
USB adapters perform the same job as a PCI-E or built-in adapter, except they plug into a USB slot. What makes USB adapters particularly good, however, is that they can also come in “cradles” at the end of USB extension cables. This means you can position your USB adapter in a similar way as the extended cable antenna covered above.
Updating Hardware and Firmware
Of course, you may be trying to get modern-day performance out of an ancient model. Make sure that your router and adapter models are relatively up to date. You don’t have to be extremely vigilant over how old your devices are, but if they’re getting pretty long in the tooth, perhaps replacing them with something newer and stronger will help defeat the issue.
While on the topic of updating, you can also try checking to see if both your wireless adapter and router are up to date with their drivers and firmware. You’ll have to check with the manufacturer of both on how to bring them up to date.
Use A WiFi Extender
If push comes to shove, you can also try a WiFi Extender. These devices act like a middleman for your WiFi connection, passing data between the router and your computer. The idea is that you place the extender somewhere both your router and your computer can access with a strong signal and have it relay the signal between the two. This does mean you can dodge around thick walls or electrical interference by placing the extender away from the obstacle and relaying the connection around it.
WiFi deadspots can be very annoying, especially if the cause is not obvious at first glance. Now you’re better equipped with how to identify trouble spots with WiFi connections and how to circumvent any problems you find with your own WiFi setup.
Have you had to wrestle with WiFi deadspots before? How did you fix them? Let us know in the comments.