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Wi-Fi Tweak Guide for Better Wireless Performance in your Home or Office Network

By: Cameron Wilmot | Guides | Posted: Jan 24, 2013 6:05 pm

Step 2 - Radio Channel Selection


Now that the position of the router is sorted, it's time to login to it and change some settings. We'll cover more settings in the next step, but I figured this option deserved a section of its own. Most routers are factory configured to run on channel six (CH6). The issue with this is that if you live or work in a densely populated area, there are likely to be at least a few other routers nearby also operating on the same channel and competing for air space on that channel.


Most of the time your router will work fine even if on the same radio channel as others, but you'll see some improvement in performance by selecting a channel that is open and unused by other wireless devices. My router was selected to auto select the best channel, but it turns out that option didn't really work well at all. As far as I know my router kept its selection as CH6, even though that was not the best setting.




There is a very hand and free app on the Google Play Store for Android devices which enables you to examine your nearby area and easily determine which channel is the best choice for you. Most of your neighbors won't know it, but they'll want to thank you for adjusting your channel, if they knew. The app we're talking about is called Wifi Analyzer and can be downloaded here from the Play Store. Once you've got it installed on your device, on the screen (as pictured above), you'll be able to see the ratings for the best channels available.


In my case I changed my channel from CH6 to CH1 as that was one of the two best channels recommended by the app. On another section of the app you can also get a listing of nearby wireless networks and see what channels they are using. Check this and the recommended channels by the app and then determine which channel is best for you. Ideally you will select a channel that is not used within your routers wireless range.



Step 3 - Router Settings


In this section we'll go over some of the settings you can change in your router to improve wireless performance. These settings are based off my D-Link DIR-855 router, but as mentioned, your router should have similar settings, they may just be worded different or located in a different area.




The first notable setting here is the type of 802.11 mode your router uses. You should have your router only run one type of wireless mode as it results in less switching and improved performance. We only saw a slight improvement from adjust this, but we're going to include it in this guide anyway as every bit helps. Depending on the wireless devices connecting to your router, select one option which works best. In my case the option of "802.11n only" works best as most of my devices connecting are modern and support this protocol.


If you have older devices, such as laptops, they may only support up to 802.11g, which means you should select "802.11g only", as your wireless mode. If you find that users are unable to connect their devices, you may have to go back and select mixed mode, which operates 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11n. As a side note, if you have a very new router, it may support gigabit wireless or 802.11ac.


As mentioned in Step 2 we recommend manually selecting the radio channel, so in our case "Enable Auto Channel Scan" has been disabled. Under "Wireless Channel" is where you can select the best channel for you as discussed in Step 2. For "Transmission Rate" you'll want to select "Best" - if you want to control how much speed users get out of your router, you can play around with this setting. Ensure that "Channel Width" is set as "Auto" or "Auto 20/40 MHz". The last option we see here is "Visibility Status" and this determines if your network SSID (network name) can be seen by nearby wireless devices.




Under the advanced settings area of my router I can changed advanced wireless settings, as you can see in the screenshot above. By default most routers are configured from the factory with less than optimal performance settings. Match your settings up with mine in the screenshot above, I find them to work best. The only option I have disabled is "WLAN Partition" which is used to prevent wireless devices from connecting and accessing files to other computers on the network. If you have strangers using your network, you may want to enable this option.


Another option which may appear is called "Extra Wireless Protection" and this option only become available when you select "802.11n" only for your wireless mode. Disable it if you are running an 802.11n only wireless network. If you happen to see a slowdown in performance or issues, as some have noted, change it back.

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