How to Optimize Your Home WiFi Without Buying New Hardware

The number of WiFi enabled devices in the average home is steadily and rapidly growing, and with it, the levels of interference and burden on your home network.

If you’re frustrated with slow WiFi speeds, suffering from dead spots around the house, or dealing with connections that frequently drop when trying to upload family photos to Digital Asset Management software, you’ve probably been told to simply upgrade your hardware. While it is often a quick and easy solution – it certainly isn’t a cheap one – and you may be able to gain more from your current hardware before shelling out for the latest technology. The following are some tips and tricks to enhance your home network without breaking the bank.

Router Positioning

Your WiFi network transmits data using radio waves which are subject to sources of obstruction and interference. Accordingly, your first step to optimizing your network connection is to ensure that your router is positioned optimally.

While radio waves will of course travel through solid objects, they lose much of their signal strength in doing so, and this is particularly true when passing through high-density materials like metal, concrete or plaster. As such, position your device to minimize obstructions between it and the devices to which you connect it. Often, if you connect to a multitude of devices around the home, it will be optimal to place it somewhere central to ensure there are no dead spots that can’t receive a signal.

Additionally, an important consideration when positioning your router for maximum effectiveness is its elevation. Radio waves do not spread well vertically, so placing your router on the floor will translate into a poor signal. Instead, try to place the router in an elevated position so that connected devices are below or in a lateral position to the router.

Antenna Positioning

If your router has external antennae, you’ll want to ensure they’re positioned appropriately too. Positioning an antenna vertically will increase signal transmission horizontally across a single floor in your home, while placing the antenna horizontally will maximize vertical transmission up and down between floors.

While experimentation is key here – a commonly recommended arrangement for devices with three antennae is to position the center antenna vertically with each of the side antennae at a 45-degree angle to maximize coverage.

Do-It-Yourself Enhancements

If in spite of these optimisations you still need to squeeze a little more range out of your router – and you don’t mind a little DIY – there are some homemade solutions which can accomplish just that.

While there are a number of quick fixes you can try involving items like used soda bottles, tin cans or food strainers, the fastest and easiest involves simply cutting yourself a rectangular piece of aluminium foil, bending it into a curve and placing it behind your router antennae. Doing so will reflect the wireless signals in the direction you desire and, hopefully, increase your signal strength.

Radio Band and WiFi channels

Conversely, if your issues lie more with bandwidth and signal quality than the actual range of your home WiFi network, there are several adjustments you can make which could have a positive impact on your reception and throughput – provided you’re comfortable accessing and altering your router settings.

WiFi routers can transmit via a number of different channels similar to a radio. However, if neighboring devices are operating on the same or bordering channels, this can cause interference and degrade signal quality. While you can simply experiment by changing your router’s WiFi channel to find the one with the least traffic, a quicker and easier method is to use one of the many free “WiFi analyzer” applications on your PC or mobile device to visualize your local WiFi signals and help you identify the least used channels.

Furthermore, if your devices support it, try using the 5GHz radio band for higher throughput. In contrast to the 2.4GHz band which is utilized by a lot of different devices like microwaves, Bluetooth headsets, and wireless microphones as well as other WiFi networks, the 5GHz band has a much smaller variety of devices operating on it. In addition to having fewer devices to interfere with your signal, the 5GHz band also has more channels to choose from as well as being higher bandwidth and capable of significantly faster data transfer than the 2.4GHz band. Unfortunately, this comes with some downsides – the 5GHz band has more trouble penetrating objects than 2.4GHz, and as such has less range.

Firmware

Possibly one of the quickest and easiest ways to ensure your router is performing its best is to keep its firmware up to date. Checking the website of your router’s manufacturer regularly can grant a quick and free solution to your WiFi issues, as well as providing you with security fixes.

Note, however, that it is important to take care not to interrupt your router during a firmware update as this could potentially damage it.

Is Vaping Technology Moving Backwards?

Progress in the vaping world has generally followed a ‘more is better’ philosophy. New Kanthal alloy coils feature the lowest resistances yet; expensive ecig setups with advanced mods and circuitry can run far above 200W. Many mods now also feature touchscreens and settings to adjust temperature and power delivery curves.

But with the advent of new, simpler vaping products like the JUUL, many find themselves asking the question: is the vaping industry moving backwards, technologically? The answer is a little bit more complicated than it might seem at first.

It appears that strong regulations and poor understanding of the health effects of vaping have led, in the past, to lower prices on vaping products. This is because lower prices leads to lower financial risk, which balanced out against the poorly understood health risk. In this way, the vaping scene has been allowed to flourish.

But as time has gone on, vaping regulations have been getting looser and looser. This is mostly driven by a wealth of research in the past few years proving that vaping is signficantly less harmful than smoking tobacco. Now that the health risks are proven to be quite low, people find themselves more open to spending a bit more on a vape product.

Which means that the upper market for vaping products is beginning to open up. Whereas the top of the market has mostly been occupied by high-tech, complex electronic cigarettes, we’re starting to see new, low-tech products up there as well. This is where the JUUL comes in.

A Juul

JUUL aims to offer a low barrier to entry, meaning no vaping learning curve (which admittedly has been pretty steep up until now). It also reportedly offers a better vape than a lot of its competitors, through the use of quality flavours and nicotine salt, rather than freebase nicotine used in most modern eliquids.

And people seem to be eating this up. JUUL claims to be producing 20 million replaceable flavour cartridges a month, and is ramping up production to double that over 2018. They’ve also received big investment from firms like Tiger Global and Fidelity Investment.

Vapourlites VL4

So is the vaping industry moving backwards? Yes and no. While it is investing in technologically-simple products like the JUUL, those products try to iterate on current ecig technology to create a better vaping experience. But the technologically-complex vaping products at the top continue to sell and remain incredibly popular. It’s yet to be seen whether either side with dominate, or if this is even a battle in the first place.