Your Wi-Fi router may be in the wrong place. Here’s where to move it – CNET

Your Wi-Fi router may be in the wrong place.  Here's where to move it - CNET

This story is part of 12 days of tipsso you can make the most of your technology, home and health during the holiday season.

So there is a problem with your internet connection. It doesn’t matter which internet provider you have or how many devices are online, your connection is always slow. What are you doing? Sometimes pay monthly to one internet provider or having your router installed professionally may not even solve the immense problem of slow and weak internet connection.

That’s a huge headache if you work from home, if you’re trying to install smart home gadgets, or if you just want Relax with some Netflix at the end of the day.

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The good news is that there is an easy way to optimize your Wi-Fi network and address these issues, and it will only take you a few minutes.

There are many factors that determine internet speed and while one some tricks or guidelines you can follow to improve the overall wireless speeds and coverage in your home, one of the most crucial factors is the location of your router. And be aware, the best place is not always where the technician set it up. So keep reading to learn about the best place in your home for your router and other tricks for faster Wi-Fi. You can also check out our picks for the best wifi routersthe best mesh routers and the best wifi extenders. (And if you have a mesh router, be sure to check it out our guide to where and how to set it up correctlyat.)

Choose the right router for your space

First things first: it all starts with choosing the right router or other equipment. Not all routers are created equal, and the size and layout of your home will determine the type of wireless network you need.

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For most apartments and smaller homes (less than 1,500 square feet), a single wireless access point should be sufficient. That said, if your router is several years old, you should consider upgrading to a newer model with support for 802.11axor Wi-Fi 6. That’s the latest generation of Wi-Fi technology and gives you the fastest possible wireless speeds and the best overall coverage.

For larger multi-story homes, it’s worth checking out upgrade to a mesh network provide consistent coverage throughout the home. Once the main access point is installed and you notice that a far corner of your house doesn’t have solid wireless coverage, simply add another node to that area. Problem solved.

For more information, check out our list of the best mesh routers of the year (our best choice is the TP Link Deco W7200) and if you’re not sure where to start when choosing your next router, consult us router buying guide.

Whether you have a single access point or a mesh network, it still matters where you place the primary access point.

What is the best place to place your router?

TP Link router on a blue background

Check out all the different routers available to you: Wi-Fi routers, mesh networks and more.

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When you first move into a new house or apartment, the modem is usually installed along the wall in one of the farthest corners of the house. This is simply because that’s where the line enters the house and it’s the technician’s job to make the connection – not to optimize your network. That part is for you.

It’s tempting to just leave everything where the technician set it up. But it’s unlikely to be an optimal location to have your router.

Choose a central location

Routers broadcast the signal in all directions, so leaving it in the corner of your house will send a significant percentage of your wireless coverage outside your home. That’s why it’s best to move the router to a central location to optimize the signal.

Installing a router throughout the house from the modem can be tricky. You may need to manually run a particularly long CAT5 or CAT6 Ethernet cable under the floor or along the bottom of your walls, or enlist the help of powerline network adapters, which use your home’s electrical wiring to carry an Internet signal from point to point. But the improved wireless coverage will be worth it.

Raise the router

Routers tend to spread their strongest signals downward, so it’s best to mount the router as high as possible to maximize coverage. Try placing it high on a bookshelf or mounting on the wall in an inconspicuous place.

Search online and you’ll find many custom wall mounts built for specific routers, such as this folding holder for the EroPro 6 mesh router. If you’re struggling to find a good, elevated spot, something like this could be a great solution.

Avoid other electronics

Try to choose a location that is away from other electronics and large metal objects. The more walls, large obstacles, and electronics near your router, the more likely something is to interfere with the signal.

One type of electronic device to particularly avoid is the microwave oven, which emits a strong signal in the 2.4 GHz band, the same wireless band your router operates in. Also, make sure you don’t place your router behind a large TV, which can cause electronic interference while also physically blocking or distorting the signal.

In addition to electronics, also pay attention to bulky furniture that can limit the range of the signal. For example, Wi-Fi doesn’t travel well through water, so if you have an aquarium in your home, try to avoid situations where it’s between your router and the device that needs to connect.

Those funny looking antennas? They really matter

Some routers don’t have an antenna at all, but some have eight. These antennas help direct the signal. If your router has two or more antennas, don’t point them all in the same direction.

Instead, make them perpendicular to each other – place one horizontally and the other vertically. Or slightly change the position of all antennas to cover a wide range of angles. You may need to experiment a bit to find the most effective configuration.

The signal from each of those antennas will come out as a wave traveling in all directions, and that wave will be perpendicular to the antenna itself, so a vertical antenna will be more useful in single-story homes, while a horizontal or angled antenna is going to send a signal that travels upwards, which might be more useful in a multi-story house.

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Wi-Fi mapping software like NetSpot can help you visualize the strength of your network, making it easier to target the weak spots.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Map the signal

In worst-case scenarios, it can be helpful to map the signal in your home to see where there might be gaps or problem areas in your coverage. Some years ago we used NetSpot software to map the signal strength throughout the CNET Smart Home — eventually, we got a good idea of ​​the weak spots in our Wi-Fi network, which helped us back things up by moving our hardware to more optimal locations.

If you’re considering upgrading your router, you should definitely check it out CNET’s picks for the best routers. For families with children, make sure explore your router’s parental controlsat.

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