Can we all agree that slow WiFi is the pits? Waiting for your connection to catch up with you is like watching paint dry - ten times over. We’re so used to immediate response rates from devices that the second we experience a loading icon, we clench up.
You can argue that patience is a virtue, but we’d rather discuss a few simple (and free!) ways to maximize your internet speeds so that your days off aren’t spent practicing anything you don’t want to.
Say goodbye to slow WiFi with these 10 easy ways to optimize your connection:
1. Prime Real Estate
First thing’s first. Where are you placing your WiFi router? If the answer is, “tucked away behind the TV,” or “where the rest of the electric cords are,” you may have found your problem. Your router will work in those places as long as it’s plugged in, however, it probably won’t work at full capacity compared to other prime real estate you have in the home.
Similar to a lamp, a WiFi router requires space of its own to really be effective. Where your router resides has a big impact on how well it delivers a signal to your devices. There are a few different spots we recommend placing a router depending on your home. If you live in a one-story, open-concept space, your best bet is to place it in the center of your home, so it can evenly disperse WiFi signal throughout. If you live in a multi-story home, we recommend placing the router on the highest level as the WiFi signal travels down better than up. Aside from that, the best placement for your internet equipment is far away from highly-wired areas such as a computer station or behind the TV, as these can obstruct the path of radio waves from your router.
2. Ways You (Kon) Redecorate
To sum up the lessons of creative minimalist, Marie Kondo, “Everything in your space should have its place.” There are many ways you can decorate a home but making sure your furniture creates a balanced, highly-functioning space is key to living your best life. As it relates to the internet, reevaluating your furniture arrangements could help optimize your connection.
The smallest things can make the biggest difference when it comes to internet performance. You can compare how a WiFi signal travels to wind or sound. It moves in invisible waves throughout the house that are easily interrupted by large objects. In this case, a big leather couch in the middle of your living room can and will slow down the signal traveling from your router.
Luckily, there’s no need to ditch the furniture to avoid slow WiFi. Positioning your furniture against the wall or in spots that don’t obstruct your router’s path is likely to improve your router’s performance.
3. Battle of the Bands
You see it often in coffee shops that offer free WiFi. Any guesses? We’re talking about multiple WiFi bands (also known as frequencies). One easy way to optimize your connection is to swap between WiFi bands. If you’re currently using a router with a standard 2.4 GHz, we highly recommend upgrading your equipment to include 5 GHz.
Switching your router from the single 2.4 GHz frequency to both 2.4 and 5 GHz can dramatically increase the delivery of your internet speeds by supplying more bandwidth for the WiFi signal and less interference. Both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands offer multiple internet transmission channels, but if you only have the standard 2.4 GHz band rather than both, you’re putting a lot of strain on your router’s ability to carry data back and forth between devices.
It’s also good to know that 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands perform differently. A 2.4 GHz signal has a greater range, in terms of distance from the router, whereas a 5GHz signal delivers data faster. So, if you are in range of both, you’d want to pick the 5 GHz band for performance, but if you’re roaming around the house, 2.4 GHz will offer you a more stable connection. What’s more, with GVTC Premium WiFi, our router comes with built-in intelligence called “band steering” that automatically picks the best band for you so you don’t have to worry about it.
4. Sharing Isn’t Caring
Don’t tell your kids, but sharing is not always caring. Sometimes, you have to put yourself first - especially when it comes to your safety. These days, houses are souped up with everything from Smart Home Security to Amazon Alexa in each room. There used to be one main point of entry to a home - the front door. Now, there are both physical and virtual ways for intruders to gain access to your safe haven. Luckily, there’s one safeguard you can use to prevent that from happening.
Whatever you do, don’t share your WiFi password with the whole neighborhood. We know you’re just trying to be nice, but open networks can be a security hazard as well as the cause for slow WiFi. Just like locking the door to keep out strangers, you should always use a strong password to protect your network from unwanted guests using up all of your bandwidth.
We recommend 1) using a WiFi password for your network and 2) updating that password at least once every 3-6 months. The best passwords are a mix of 8+ letters, numbers, and characters only you and your family know (and ABCD1234! is a no-go). It may seem like overkill, but all it takes is one sneaky hacker to steal information off your computer or one neighbor with four kids to slow your WiFi connection. If you do happen to need to grant temporary access to visitors, the GVTC WiFi App comes with the ability to add guest network logins you can turn on and off as you please. Cool, huh?
5. Don’t Save This Cache
If there’s one thing you shouldn’t stress over saving, it’s the cache on your devices. Known as a place that stores browser data, your cache is a receptacle of repeat information. As you visit websites and enter content, browsers collect bits of data about you, otherwise known as “cookies” or trackers. Marketers use these cookies to send you retargeted ads for items you might be interested in based on your browsing history. If you’ve ever seen the same ad follow you from webpage to webpage, then you know it well.
To get rid of the cookies, you have to clear the “cache” on your browser - which isn’t limited to your computer. Any device with a browser installed including smartphones, laptops, or even gaming consoles has a cache. You can clear it either manually or by installing a plugin like this one. Make it a habit to clear your cache daily to prevent the piling data from affecting your internet speeds.
6. Give your Router a Break
Imagine never going to sleep. You might be able to pull one allnighter and feel relatively normal, but try doing that day after day for years on end. We know that’s not possible for us, so why do we expect other things to do just that? Like our routers. Yes, technically they’re just hunks of metal. But like our bodies, electronics also need rest to continue functioning properly.
We recommend resetting your router (and modem if you have a separate one) every month to refresh your internet connection. If you experience serious speed issues, you might consider resetting your router daily. Doing this stimulates your connection to your ISP, which should improve your WiFi connection.
To make it even easier, you can use an outlet timer to take care of it for you. Once you plug your router into the timer, you can set specific dates or times for it to turn your system on and off. Keep in mind this won’t magically make your 50 Mbps speeds perform like 1 Gbps, but it will definitely help—and it’s super easy.
7. Access a Lifeline
We talked earlier about ways to redecorate your home or reposition your router to optimize your WiFi connection. But what if you can’t knock out a wall to clear a path for radio waves or the center of your house is a bathroom? This is where WiFi mesh access points can really lend a lifeline to your internet experience.
WiFi mesh access points are plugins you can place around the house to help extend WiFi signal throughout areas of your house where connection strength starts to waver. In the event that your home is too big, full of furniture you can’t move, or you aren’t able to upgrade your speeds, mesh WiFi technology helps you maximize the WiFi coverage throughout your home.
8. Disconnect Devices
Here’s a question for you: how many smart devices do you have in your home right now? We’re talking about all gadgets including smartphones, tablets, smart fridges, Roombas, etc. Is the number quickly increasing as you realize the countless devices laying around your house? It’s pretty shocking to think about when you get down to it. The good news is you’re not alone, and there is a point to the trivia.
Every device connected to your WiFi is sucking up bandwidth. That means each smartphone set to automatically connect to your network and smart appliances running 24/7 are using up WiFi that can slow down the performance of them all if not prioritized. So, it’s very important that you disconnect devices when they’re not in use. Maybe not your smart refrigerator, but definitely those tablets between the couch cushions. Having fewer devices on your network at one time is the quickest and easiest way to optimize your WiFi connection.
9. Bookmark, Don’t Tab
If you’re anything like us, you routinely keep dozens of tabs open on your browser. (You really are going to finish Marie Kondo’s declutter e-guide. We know.) Unfortunately, those open windows can really slow down your WiFi connection, so we’re making a pact with you: we’ll break that bad habit if you do. The second you notice your tabs getting out of hand, try bookmarking them instead. You can create folders like “Read Later” or “Life Hacks” depending on the content you’re saving. It not only helps declutter your life (thank you Marie Kondo), but it also frees your browser from requiring so much bandwidth.
An alternative - if quitting tabs is too big of a change for you - can be downloading the Opera Web Browser. Opera streamlines data from multiple tabs to help speed up your browsing experience. We wouldn’t recommend using Opera on a daily basis due to the energy it drains from devices, but if you really need to look something up and your WiFi connection takes a dip in performance, you can switch to Opera without sacrificing your tabs.
10. Upgrade your router
When all else fails, it’s time to face the facts: you might need to upgrade your router. Sometimes equipment just runs its course - to no fault of your own - and it's time to fix the root of all your connection issues by starting over with a more reliable product and/or service.
With GVTC Premium WiFi, you enjoy greater coverage in your home, more device connectivity, and a stronger throughput for faster, more reliable speeds. Not just that, but you’ll be able to choose from three different speed tiers so your plan truly fits your lifestyle needs.
We know - it sounds a little too good to be true. We guess you’ll just have to see for yourself. Explore options available in your area today, joining thousands across our service area enjoying uninterrupted connection at blazing fast speeds.