Are your videos stuttering and getting worse? If you think that your old, slow Wi-Fi router is causing the problem, this tutorial will help. We can help you troubleshoot your slow Wi-Fi and show you how to improve the situation without breaking your wallet.
Tip: If your Mac is having Wi-Fi issue, here are the ways to fix it.
More Than One Reason for Slow Wi-Fi
Before you walk out the door this weekend insisting that you’ll replace your router, understand that getting a new one might not always be the best solution. In some cases, it might not even help at all.
Here are a few other reasons besides your router that could be bringing down your Internet speed:
- Number of devices connected to your router
- Distance between your device and router
- The router’s age
- Your Internet service provider
We will be walking you through all of these issues and suggesting fixes for each.
Can Your Wi-Fi Router Handle That Many Devices?
First off, your WiFi router has a limit on how many devices it can serve. You’d normally find this in the router’s packaging. It explains that they recommend 10 or 30 devices connected at a time. Some might only be able to handle two, though that’s usually the really low-spec models.
While the theoretical maximum devices that can connect is 254, your router’s hardware might be at its limit at a half dozen devices.
There are two ways to solve this:
- Use a Wi-Fi repeater, which is like having a second Wi-Fi router, but it connects to your main Internet Wi-Fi router.
- Connect directly to the Ethernet port.
Be sure to remember that the number of devices connected to your router doesn’t just include your phones and laptops. This also includes your smart home devices, like your smart cameras and smart displays.
How Far Is Your Wi-Fi Router from Your Device?
Besides the number of devices, your Wi-Fi router has a limited range. As always, this depends on the device. But if your router is way at the east end of your house and you’re at the far west side, chances are the Wi-Fi signal might not make it to you.
The walls and other obstacles between your device and router can also affect your Wi-Fi quality.
Iron grates, fridge doors, aluminum foils, and other obstacles made from metal can also block the radio frequency signals emitted by your phone and the router.
The easiest way to fix this is to move the router to somewhere central in the house so it is accessible from each corner of the house. If that is not possible, another way is to use a Wi-Fi repeater/extender to extend the range of your router.
Or better yet, you can try adding an extension cable to the router’s antenna so you could point it around the obstacles and closer to your other devices.
Should You Contact Your ISP?
Sometimes, the source of the slow Wi-Fi issue lies in the source – your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Your internet speed can only go as fast as your ISP provides, and the only way to know if there’s something wrong on their side is by contacting them.
To test if the ISP is responsible for the slow Wi-Fi speed, stand near to the router and do a speed test. If the speed is slower than usual, and you are sure that there is nothing wrong with your router, then it is highly possible the issue arises from the ISP side.
There are three things that your ISP can answer for you:
- Your plan’s maximum and average speed.
- Internet outages on their side.
- Other services they have that can help.
Of course, you risk talking to an agent pushing more expensive services if you’re unlucky. But that’s not always the case with every ISP out there.
Another thing that they can help you with is your Wi-Fi modem’s firmware. If your Wi-Fi router and modem came with your internet plan, the ISP may also be in charge of updating its firmware. Newer firmware help older devices keep up and give you a better Wi-Fi experience.
How Old Is Your Wi-FI Router?
With 5G being rolled out to more and more parts of the world, your router’s old hardware might not become as fast as you want it to. If your router is already a few years old, it might not be compatible with the newer technology today.
You might want to replace your router if it’s still running 802.11b because that’s really old. Many consumer-grade routers use 802.11n nowadays. 5G is optional for these devices, and it only gets better when it supports the newer 802.11ac standard.
Other Reasons why Your Wi-Fi Is so Slow
Here are other reasons that could slow down your Wi-Fi:
- Someone’s using up too much bandwidth
- Wi-Fi hackers
- Too many apps on your device that uses up internet bandwidth
You’ll notice these by checking up your router’s and devices’ telemetry data.
Installing a network monitor like NetData and GlassWire on your devices can help you determine which apps and programs eat up too much bandwidth. These can also show you whether you have a virus that does exactly that.
And on the router side, you can take note of all the devices that are connected to it. If one of them seem like they’re not from your device, you should block it and change your Wi-Fi password to something that’s more secure.
In the end, your Wi-Fi router is just like you – it has its own physical limits. To add to all these, you should also monitor your Wi-Fi usage and check connections every now and then even if you don’t think it’s slow right now. This helps you save bandwidth, reduce the internet bill, and familiarize yourself with the plastic-coated silicon chips that run the world one virtual call at a time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What's the difference between a hub, switch, and router?
This article explains it in great detail. Basically, a hub lets one computer send data to all other devices connected to it. However, it can’t pick out a single device to send to – all traffic is sent to all connected devices. A switch can be used to send a message to just a single computer because it can tell which computer is which by using MAC addresses. Lastly, a router lets devices connect to the internet. All three are typically used to make a larger network connect to the internet.
Why do some old houses have bad internet reception?
Wi-Fi signals can be blocked or weakened by thick walls. Many older houses that have stood the test of time have thick walls made from larger steel and plenty of concrete. Because of this, Wi-Fi signals can sometimes have trouble going through the rooms of older houses and buildings.
Why do IP addresses start with 192.168?
While it might be common, IP addresses don’t always start with 192.168. The address 192.168 is reserved for private local networks, which could be your home or your office network. This could be why you see those numbers often. Other numbers are reserved for other purposes, like 127 and 10.
Image credit: Unsplash
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