Weak WiFi Signal – What Causes WiFi to Only Work When You’re Close to the Router
Troubleshooting a weak WiFi signal should always start with the router. Due to WiFi networks’ proven reliability, if the router starts underperforming, users quickly get frustrated. Routers are access points, and your average WiFi router has a range of between 50 and 150 feet, depending on the exact model.
Before you start troubleshooting the router, it is important to know how they work. The router itself consists of one or more antennas that both send and receive radio signals. The radio signals are what carries the data over the network.
The placement of the router and the position of the antennas influences the signal strength. Hence, the router’s position will undoubtedly affect the range. Ideally, you should place the router as close to the center of the desired coverage area and away from any known sources of interference (i.e. metals, power cables, or electrical components, etc.).
If your device has adjustable antennas, you should note that adjusting them improves the horizontal and vertical broadcast range of the signal.
As indicated in the image above, the signal strength and quality both depend on the antenna positions. If the range is weak, you can try different configurations of antenna positions to find the best setup for your network.
If moving the router or the antennas have no effect on the signal strength or internet speed, you can check the router settings.
To access the router, you need to have the IP Address of the device on the network. Usually, you can find the Device IP listed on the bottom of the router.
If the IP address is missing, you can use the command line to locate it on the network.
1. Finding Router’s IP from Command Line (CMD)
Start by hitting the Windows Key, then typing “CMD”. The Windows Key is the button with four squares, usually located between Ctrl & Alt buttons.
Ensure you start CMD with elevated privileges by right-clicking on the icon and choosing “Run as administrator”.
Once CMD loads, type “ipconfig” and hit enter.
The results will provide you with network IP information. Your router’s IP will be listed as the default gateway under the Wireless LAN Adapter section.
You can now use the router’s IP address to access the device settings.
2. Checking the Router Device Settings
To access the router’s settings, open a web browser and type the IP Address into the address bar, then hit enter.
This will open the User Interface and Login Page for the Router.
The username and password is usually factory set to “admin”. If a Network Administrator has changed your username and password, you will need to contact them to get the details.
Type in the username and password and then click the Login button. This will take you to the router’s administration page.
Depending on what the router’s manufacturer and model is, you may see a different type of landing page. However, the settings should be generally similar.
3. Which Settings Influence the WiFi Router’s Range?
The first setting to check is the Transmit Power setting found in the Advanced Settings section. Ensure it is set to 100%, as anything below this will limit the router’s transmitting range.
Additional settings and issues that can influence the router’s performance are:
- Channel Setting
The channel setting determines which channel broadcasts the signal. There are 11 channels, and modern routers should automatically choose the one that is least used. This is important in areas where multiple networks cross over each other. So changing to a static channel may improve the performance.
- Router’s Firmware
The firmware installed on the router may be outdated. You should check the manufacturer’s website and ensure you are using the latest firmware for your model.
4. Checking your Device’s Settings
If you’ve determined the optimal configuration for the router and still experience issues with the range, you should investigate your device specific settings.
To check network device settings, right click on the WiFi icon in the Windows Tray and choose “Open Network and Internet Settings”.
On the settings page, choose the “Change Adapter Options” option.
When the adapter’s window is open, choose the WiFi adapter by right-clicking on the icon, and choose “Properties” from the context menu.
If your router supports IPV6, ensure the box is checked on the properties window.
To change advanced device settings, click on configure. This opens the device-specific properties window where you can check the status of the device, change specific connection settings, and verify you’re using the latest driver, among others.
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