Improving Wireless Network Performance Part 1

Over the last couple weeks I’ve received some questions on why home wireless networks were performing badly. How can I be directly in front of my wireless router and still get a bad connection? Why would my connection drop if I move from the living room to the kitchen? Unless you’re in a three level palace you should be able to roam throughout the house and keep a connection to your Wireless Network or, as the tech-heads call it, the WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network).

There are several things that can muck up your WLAN.

1. Location. This means you, your router and the pesky neighbors. If you live in an apartment building or other type of complex then there’s WLAN overlapping happening all the time. This holds true for residential neighborhoods also. WLAN routers broadcast their signals in a wide radius and usually on the same channel. If not controlled they’ll stomp on each other.

Overlapping Wireless Networks

To see how many networks are in range of your WLAN just look at your wireless network card’s (WNIC) list of available networks. This is not “the more the merrier”; you may like your neighbors but you really don’t want their WLANs competing with your space.

How to combat Overlapping:

1. Change The Channel: Most WLAN routers ship with the Transmit power on High and the Channel set to 6. Channel overlaps follow the same concepts as transmit power, the closer they are the more they’ll compete. So, start by changing the channel on your router to 1 or 11, as far away from 6 as you can be.

2. Turn Down the Router Transmit Power: Some WLAN routers can do this and some can’t. You’ll usually find these settings in the Advanced section of the Wireless options on the router. Turning down the power reduces the area your WLAN reaches which is good for everybody. Once you turn down the power, your WNIC should still have maximum bars for your network. If it doesn’t, turn the power back up. The most important thing, after all, is you.

3. Turn down the Transmit Power of your WNIC: Having your “available wireless networks” list be reduced to just yours is what we’re trying to achieve with the Transmit Power setting. Some WNICs won’t have this option. Below is an example on where you can change the settings.

To access these settings do the following:

For Windows XP: Goto Start–>Control Panel–>Network Connections. Right click the Wireless Network Adapter and Choose Properties. From there click the Configure button underneath the Wireless Network Card name at the top of the window.

For Windows 7: Click Start (Windows Logo at the bottom left corner)–>Control Panel–>Network and Internet–>Network and Sharing Center. Cjoose Change adapter settings. Right click the Wireless Network Adapter and Choose Properties. From there click the Configure button underneath the Wireless Network Card name at the top of the window.

4. Change Roaming Aggressiveness: While you’re in there, may as well tweak how your WNIC looks for a better connection. The WNIC isn’t loyal to your network; it will try and connect to the best one available. So, if you have many WLANs on your “available” list chances are your WNIC will try to connect to them if they suddenly seem closer. Turn down the roaming aggressiveness setting to shorten the leash on the WNIC and keep it in the yard.

5. Centrally Locate Your Router: It’s important to place your router in a central location to get the most coverage and stability. This may mean buying a longer network cable that connects the router to the ISP (Internet Service Provider) router or modem.

More to come in Part 2!

Would you like to practice on the same wireless router you have without the chances of ruining it? Try these emulators. Chances are you’ll find yours in these lists below.


All Routers Netgear Routers D-Link Routers


Categories: Home Networking

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