5 Things To Check If Your WiFi Is Slow

Woman working on laptop in large office with wifi solution in place


Slow, low and spotty Wi-Fi can be very frustrating.

Sometimes, a few tweaks like the tips below are all you need to fix WiFi signal strength.

Other times, installation of better WiFi networking equipment is required.

Dive in and discover how these tips can help you with WiFi issues.

Too many devices connected will slow your WiFi for everyone.

Think of your WiFi network like a pie. A single connected device gets to eat the whole pie. If you have two devices connected, then they each get a half a pie. Four devices = 1/4 pie each and so forth. More devices = less pie per device. And everybody wants a bigger piece of the pie, right?

If your WiFi network is 54 Mbps and you have 7 devices connected, each accessing data simultaneously, then each device will only get to use 7.7 Mbps.

Your internet connection is similarly divided. If your internet connection is 25mbps and 7 devices are accessing it, each device will only get 3.6 Mbps.

Where your router is placed affects your WiFi signal.

A WiFi router emits radio waves in an elliptical pattern all around itself. If your router is in a corner of your house, that means that half the signal is broadcasting outside of where you will be using it. If you have a 3 story house, then the best spot for the router will be on the 2nd floor, in the centre of the house. This will provide you with the most even coverage. But, signal is still limited by distance. If your home is large, a single router can’t cover it all with signal. More on that later.

Strong signal strength is directly related to speed. https://gfycat.com/ImportantSafeBlackmamba

Placing your router inside of a closet or cabinet will impede WiFi signal.

WiFi routers are not aesthetically pleasing to many people, but tucking it away inside of a cabinet impedes its ability to broadcast it’s radio waves throughout your house.

WiFi doesn’t pass through obstacles very well. Radio waves are more prone to bounce off surfaces rather than pass through them. Give it some room to breath.

Wifi signal intensity in an apartment over time

Older devices connecting to your WiFi Network can affect WiFi speed.

A.K.A. that “ancient” cellphone or laptop has got to go.

The way WiFi works has changed over the years, with new methods of broadcasting radio waves being developed.

This paragraph is a little technical. Bear with me. The first consumer grade equipment used WiFi “b” which ran at 11 mbps, then a few years later came WiFi “g” which ran at 54 Mbps, then “n” came along at 150-300Mbps and currently the “AC” specification allows for speeds up to 1.3Gbps (1300Mbps).

If you have a wireless “b” class device connecting to your brand new “AC” router, ALL of the connected devices revert to operating at the “b” speed, even if they can handle more speed.

This is because your router can only work on one WiFi schema at a time and it will always revert to the slowest speed of the slowest connected device for compatibility sake.

Most newer WiFi routers have a setting to “lock out” these older devices so that it will only operate at the speed you set it to. Take advantage of this setting, or retire your older WiFi enabled devices to speed up WiFi for everyone else on the network.

WiFi “channels” can interfere with each other. Try a different channel.

This one is a bit trickier. WiFi runs on the 2.4 GHZ frequency (and sometimes the 5 GHZ frequency). Think of these frequencies like radio stations. Radio Stations broadcast on “channels” like 88.1 or 89.5, etc. these channels all send out their broadcasts at slightly different frequencies so as to not overlap with each other. WiFi works the same way.

The 2.4 GHZ frequency spectrum is broken down into 11 channels. Channel 1 operates on 2.412 GHZ, channel 6 operates on 2.437Ghz and channel 11 operates on 2.462Ghz.

If you and your neighbour both have your routers set to work on Channel 11, it’s as though you have 2 radio stations playing different songs on the same channel. Whichever radio transmitter you are closer to is what your radio receiver (cellphone or laptop) will pick up. Only with lots of overlap and static.

No one likes to listen to a static filled radio station.

This “WiFi static” annoys people, especially when they can’t figure out why the WiFi is so choppy when they are paying top dollar for a fast internet connection.

Ideally, you’d use the least occupied distinct WiFi channel in your vicinity to minimize overlap of “stations”. There are apps that can help with this. I use the Android app WiFi Analyzer to find out the best channel for routers I am working on.

WiFi Obstacles

That said, a single WiFi router is limited in reach. If you have a large home or office the above tips alone are unlikely to fix your WiFi woes.

Also, construction materials which block WiFi, such as plaster or steel, can’t be overcome with a single router.

To extend WiFi signal, or force it to bounce around obstacles, you must perform a WiFi assessment using a heat map, and then purchase and place quality, commercial grade WiFi access points throughout your space.

If you are tech savvy you can attempt this yourself, however be sure to purchase commercial grade equipment – not a “booster” from your local big box store.

WiFi & Network Solutions in Toronto: TUCU is an IT Services Company in Toronto, offering IT network support solutions including Business WiFi solutions.  If the above tips didn’t help, or your space is simply too large for a single router to handle, call us for permanent WiFi solutions.  Schedule your free consultation today.

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