How to Find and Eliminate Wi-Fi Dead Spots
Wireless technology is a powerful tool, when it is working properly, when the devices connect and maintain a stable connection. WiFi has certainly come a long way since the creation of what we call Wifi 1 today.
Due to a plethora of reasons, we end up having bad WiFi coverage in our apartments, let alone houses and large office buildings. There are many factors that can contribute to the creation of a WiFi dead zone, where your device will keep disconnecting.
Finding and fixing WiFi dead spots requires helpful software to detect dead zones, like a WiFi heatmap. In some cases, new hardware is required, but mostly, an understanding of what can contribute to creating dead zones in the first place.
Why Do WiFi Dead Spots Exist?
A WiFi dead zone or spot is an area inside a house or any other object where WiFi is used, where devices fail to connect or have unstable connections. WiFi dead zones form because of interference. Anything from reinforced concrete walls that can act as a Faraday cage, to other devices which emit in the WiFi frequency spectrum can cause interference.
Old buildings that were built prior to the introduction of WiFi have plenty of reinforced concrete walls, which can cause interference. The same goes for houses and other objects, like old office buildings.
Old routers can be a cause of interference if they are stuck with only the 2.4GHz spectrum. The 2.4 Vs 5GHz debate with WiFi is an ongoing topic, but in smaller homes and offices, a better router with 5GHz should work just fine and have less interference.
Additionally, an older router might not have WiFi 5 nor WiFi 6, which greatly improve communication in congested areas.
The first step in fixing dead zones is to find them, and to establish what might be causing them.
How to Find WiFi Dead Zones
There are several methods that can be used to find a dead zone. They do not require anything special, though downloading software might be necessary. These two methods should work just fine when diagnosing dead zone problems.
Walking Around With a Phone in Hand
This is an old-fashioned method, but it is tried and tested and it works great. Firstly, one should connect to the WiFi. Then, they should start moving through the object, but slowly, paying close attention to the WiFi indicator.
Fast movements will not help, so take your time, spot by spot, to detect where the WiFi is bad. This method is relatively precise, but have in mind that sometimes a step forward or backward might mean the difference between working WiFi and not even connecting.
Take it slowly. This way is great for finding whether actual physical interference is the root of the problem, like the distance of the router or multiple walls and objects in the way of the signal.
Use a Heatmap Tool to Detect Bad WiFi
WiFi heatmap tools do a similar thing that the on-foot method does, but with software. They also provide comprehensive reviews of other “competing” networks, the ones that might cause interference.
Out of the many desktop applications, Netspot and WiFi Analyzer immediately come to mind. They can help find which networks are causing interference and which channel of your WiFi network is the best one, taking into account the competing networks.
With smartphones, Android devices allow us to use the eponymous WiFi Analyzer to get data about the networks in your area. Some Apple devices can use applications like Wi-Fi SweetSpots, which works in a similar manner to the other applications, the better method being the traditional on-foot one.
The difference between the quality of the 2.4GHz channels and 5GHz channels is obvious.
The number of interfering networks is larger in the 2.4GHz range, making 5GHz a better choice in congested areas.
How to Fix WiFi Dead Spots in House
Finding the cause of the problem is the first step to fixing it. Depending on the cause of the problem, the solution might cost you nothing, or it might cost you the price of a new long-range router.
But, prior to purchasing any new gear, try the following solutions.
A Better Router Location – Antenna Adjustment
If possible, moving your WiFi router to a more centralized location should give better overall coverage. Some rooms may suffer a tiny bit, but the signal should equally spread from a centralized location.
Most modern routers come with antennas. These antennas actually matter and readjusting them might give you better coverage, from your original router location and especially a more central one.
In some cases, a standard TV-like antenna can boost WiFi signal, and improvised solutions may work.
Move Metal Objects Away From the Router
Routers dislike metal objects, microwave ovens and anything which emits or blocks radio waves. Move the router or the objects to a different location, and that might help improve performance.
Purchase a Better Router
Newer routers do a better job of handling multiple devices and perform better in congested areas, using beamforming. They are also able to handle frequencies above 5GHz, which are less likely to be congested, especially at home.
Switch to a Better WiFi Channel
The WiFi Analyzer tool comes in handy with this solution. Similar applications can detect which WiFi channel is the best one in your current setting and area. Switch to that channel for an increase in stability.
Add an Extender or Mesh WiFi
WiFi extenders and mesh WiFi can help immensely with coverage, by adding another access point in another room. This eliminates most connection issues.
Cable is Stable
Ethernet cables are the preferred method for any connection which requires stability and performance. If the device is a laptop or desktop computer, use an ethernet cable.
The latest additions to the range extender category are powerline adapters, which convert electrical current into WiFi and vice versa. They also come with ethernet ports, for additional connectivity.
Fixing Dead Zones is Easy
WiFi dead zones can be problematic when stable connection is necessary but identifying and fixing the issues is relatively easy. Either by using a smartphone and walking around or heatmap software, finding the root of the problem should not take a lot of time.
While that is true, there isn’t a single best way to get rid of WiFi dead zones, but rather a plethora of solutions which work better or worse, depending on the context. Once identified, these solutions should be effective for most situations.
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