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Tips for maximising router efficiency

Tips for maximising router efficiency

Monday, 6 May, 2019

The router supplied by your broadband provider is intended to provide rapid connectivity throughout the home, so anything less than that will be a disappointment.

Unfortunately, disappointment is a regular phenomenon when using generic routers, from dead spots to fluctuating connection speeds.

ISPs buy in third-party routers which are mass-produced to strict budgets, stick a corporate logo on each one and dispatch them to clients with basic setup instructions.

As a result, millions of people around the UK endure mediocre line speeds, even though maximising router efficiency could transform online experience without costing a penny.

After all, it may not be necessary to buy a specialist router with external aerials and mesh range extension to ensure a stable signal reaches every corner of your house and garden.

These are our tips for improving domestic connectivity by maximising router efficiency:

Find a central position. Wireless routers distribute signals across a roughly spherical area, so positioning them in one corner of the house will reduce their range.

It may be worth paying to get an additional phone socket installed in the centre of the house (such as a hallway or landing), to ensure its signal reaches every corner equally.

Try not to place the router beside impenetrable materials like solid concrete or sheet metal (whose density will block signals), or hide it in a cupboard.

Move wireless devices away from the router. Interference hampers signal quality, and numerous electronic devices are constantly outputting electronic signals.

Notoriously problematic appliances include microwave ovens, landline phones and baby monitors, though alarm systems and computers might interfere with wireless signals too.

If a normally strong signal periodically drops out entirely, it could be caused by a kettle knocking off – or even a neighbour’s car alarm coming on.

Change the channel. Despite the proliferation of wireless technology and Internet of Things devices, most router data is carried across one of two frequencies.

While 5GHz should always be chosen when it’s available, the more common 2.4GHz frequency offers channels which each broadcast on a subtly different frequency.

Having too many devices operating on the same bandwidth will increase signal interference and data loss, so changing the default channel could significantly improve connection speed.

Use Powerline adaptors for key devices. Modern properties have electrical circuits extending throughout the home, which can be used to distribute data signals.

Plugging a router into a Powerline adaptor and connecting a computer or primary device to another adaptor achieves near-hardwired connection speeds from opposite ends of the house.

As well as maximising router efficiency, hardwiring key appliances ensures fewer devices are competing for bandwidth over the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies.

Update firmware. It’s often forgotten that wireless routers are electrical devices with operating software, known as firmware.

Any firmware will occasionally require rebooting, to resolve performance drop-offs. This is accomplished through a dedicated admin portal, or by visiting the manufacturer website.

Maximising router efficiency also involves ensuring security flaws are patched, with updates installed as soon as they become available.

Increase network security. An insecure network could be hacked into by criminals, or harnessed by disrespectful neighbours and casual visitors.

Using a clichéd password like ‘123456’ (or simply ‘password’) exposes your network to the risk of hijacking and unauthorised use.

Password improvement steps include choosing WPA2 security, deleting the manufacturer’s default password and replacing it with a blend of alphanumeric characters and symbols.

Neil Cumins author picture

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Neil is our resident tech expert. He's written guides on loads of broadband head-scratchers and is determined to solve all your technology problems!

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