This guide came about since I was experiencing issues with my personal home Wi-Fi network. Initially I suspected my iPhone to be the cause of poor wireless performance on my home network due to issues Apple has been seeing with its iOS mobile operating system in the 6.x version range. Not wanting to wait for Apple to fix certain compatibility issues, I decided to investigate my own network to see if the issue could be there. It turned out the issues I was facing with poor Wi-Fi performance was not a fault of my iPhone, but my network.
Therefor I want to share my personal experiences with fine tuning my wireless network for optimal performance - that is, increased throughput (speed) and general performance (radio range). The tips and tweaks provided in this guide are simple to execute and often forgotten even by seasoned tech experts. Even if your network is performing well, these tips should be able to squeeze out some extra performance. Let's cover them one by one, and hopefully by the end, your wireless network is running great once again, or better than it ever has operated.
This guide is going to use a D-Link DIR-855 wireless router as the base for settings and such. Most wireless routers include almost exactly the same settings; they may just be worded differently and found in different locations - just hunt around for them. The first tip right out of the gate is to ensure that your router is running the latest firmware update. Often after logging into your router through its web-based control panel, you can enter the settings area and check that you have the latest firmware version if you're connected to the internet. If not, visit the manufacturer's website and check. It's worth the time as firmware updates can not only fix bugs, but also improve performance and open up new settings.
Step 1 - Location and Signal Strength
The first and probably most important thing we need to look at is the location of your wireless router or access point. It's often one of the simple things that are forgotten, and in my case, the position of my router caused issues with my Wi-Fi network.
Ensure that your router is positioned in the most central location of your home or office. While this is not always easy to achieve, you'll find that the more central, the better. Also make sure there are as few objects near the router as possible and it is positioned as high as possible. If you are in a single story house, make sure the router is central and positioned above nearby objects, such as furniture. If you are in a multistory complex, put the router on the middle floor or upper floor. If you find that your router is unable to provide enough signal strength to cover the whole building, you may need to look into adding an access point or turning an old, unused router into an access point (a previously published popular TweakTown guide).
In my case, I live in a three-story townhouse with my router on the first floor and I have an old router that I turned into an access point on the third floor. It's an old house with very solid construct (big, thick walls), and that means it's very tough for the radio signals to pass through. All I did was have an electrician run a CAT6 or such gigabit ethernet cable from the first floor to the third floor. Newer houses constructed mostly of wood or less obstructive materials may not require the same, as wireless signals can pass through easier.
Another issue I faced was having another wireless device placed closely to my wireless router. When I was experiencing issues with my wireless network, I had a Skype wireless receiver for a Skype / landline phone right next to my router or at times even sitting right on top of my router. It turned out by having this additional wireless device so close to my router it heavily impacted its signal. All I had to do was move the Skype wireless receiver away (I moved it around one meter / 3 or 4 feet away) from the router and just that simple move improved the network greatly. Also ensure that other electronics such as microwaves and such are nowhere near your router as they will likely cause interference.