[HOWTO] Boost Your Laptop's Wifi Reception
Boosting your laptop's WiFi reception is a good idea, no matter where you are. Out in the country, wireless Internet hotspots can be few and far between. But even in urban areas where WiFi hotspots are plentiful it's good to have more networks from which to choose. Here's how to get a stronger wifi signal...
How to Boost Your Laptop's WiFi Signal
If you're in a crowded downtown café there may be so many people sharing the WiFi network that Internet speeds slow to a crawl. But in the same area there may be other networks, just out of range of your standard WiFi network adapter, that are virtually idle. If you boost WiFi reception range you may get a stronger connection all to yourself.
Similarly, if you're in a hotel that charges for wifi access, by increasing your wifi range you might be able to pull in a free wifi signal from outside the hotel. Even at home, you may be wanting a stronger signal in rooms that are farthest from your router. Here are some tricks to help increase WiFi reception on a laptop.
First, update your network adapter's driver if you haven't done so lately. You may be able to double or triple the speed and range of your WiFi adapter by using the latest driver instead of the generic Windows driver or a five year-old OEM version designed for an operating system you've long abandoned. Check the website of company that makes your wireless adapter (or the laptop vendor) and look for driver downloads.
An external antenna can pull in WiFi from distant hotspots. High-gain USB WiFi adapters are plentiful, cheap, and effective these days. Some are small, simple USB dongles that will give you 5 dB gain for under $20. I recently recommended the TP-Link Wireless N300 High Gain USB Adapter (TL-WN822N) to a friend and she loved it. A gadget like that may double your WiFi reception range. At the higher end are $30-$40 1000 mW WiFi extended-range adapters like the Alfa AWUS036H. This model gets excellent reviews, and comes with a suction cup holder that can be attached to a window.
Antenna specs can be confusing if you are not a radio geek. Generally speaking, more is better: more milliWatts (mW), more decibels (dB), more dBi (signal gain relative to an ideal isotropic antenna), etc. Look for specs of 5-15 dB gain, or 25-30 dBi.
How Far Can You Go With Wireless?
You might be amazed by far your WiFi reception range can be extended. Campers report pulling in WiFi signals from access points up to four miles away, using a high-performance adapter like the Alfa from atop a mountain. A completely clear line-of-sight between the access point and your laptop network adapter is necessary to achieve maximum range such as that. But even within a building, or in the woods, a high-gain WiFi adapter or antenna can double or triple your range.
The quality of any WiFi connection is also improved by using a signal booster on the router. If your router has a removable antenna, you can swap in something like the Hawking Hi-Gain HSB2 WiFi Signal Booster and extend your wireless network range up to 6 times.
A less expensive option for users where Wi-Fi signals have trouble reaching certain areas of the home is a range extender. I have a TP-Link N300 range expander (about $20), which is performing well in my home. Typically, installation of these things is very easy. Just plug it into a wall socket, connect it to your wireless router, and you're done. The only glitch I've found with this gadget is that you need to manually reset it if there's a power outage, or if someone accidentally unplugs it.
A stronger signal means fewer dropped packets or lost signals and re-connections that can slow downloads. Quality of service becomes especially important when watching streaming video or making a VoIP phone call.
Boosting WiFi signal reception range and quality can get you out of hotspot traffic jams; enable you to connect in places you never thought possible; and improve your Web surfing experience.
Do you have something to say about boosting your wifi signal range? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 2 Nov 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- [HOWTO] Boost Your Laptop's Wifi Reception (Posted: 2 Nov 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved