How to Optimise Your Home Network in 6 Simple Steps
Working from home is the new normal for most of us. The last few months of lockdown have helped to highlight the importance of communications technology to facilitate collaboration and keep businesses running. Keeping in touch with your colleagues and maintaining productivity remotely has never been easier. However (there’s always a however), home networks and broadband connections are being stretched to their limits by the combined demands of entire families being at home all day. We now need and expect our networks to support several devices streaming HD video, online gaming and business technologies like video conferencing and VPNs, all at the same time. If your network is struggling to keep up with all this, there are several free and easy steps you can take to maximise the performance of your network and keep your router fighting fit.
1. Reduce the number of devices connecting to your Wi-Fi
Each device connected wirelessly to your network keeps up a constant conversation with your router, even when they’re not being used. These conversations add up and eventually will cause a noticeable dip in the performance of your network. Turning Wi-Fi off on the devices you’re not using will reduce the load on your router, freeing up more capacity for the devices you are using.
2. Move your router to a better location
Wi-Fi signals don’t pass through brick and plaster as well as they pass through air. It may sound obvious, but the single biggest factor in the strength of your network connection is the location of your router. Think about where the router is in your house – how many walls are there between your workspace and the router? Reducing this, if possible, will give you a huge improvement in the strength and reliability of your network connection. Similarly, and we know how strange this sounds, microwaves can interfere with Wi-Fi. Since they operate at similar frequencies, having a microwave between your workspace and your router could have a huge impact on the strength of your signal. Test it yourself by running a speed test on a laptop while it’s next to a running microwave – how much speed do you lose? This problem could also be solved by using a router that operates on the 5GHz band rather than 2.4GHz; this will prevent the much more powerful 2.4GHz magnetron in your microwave from having any effect on your wireless devices.
3. Connect via Ethernet
While using a cable certainly isn’t as convenient as connecting wirelessly, Ethernet is more reliable and faster than even the strongest Wi-Fi signal. Running a cable upstairs or across carpet is hardly a long-term solution, but there is an alternative. Powerline Wi-Fi extender kits run a signal from your router through your home’s wiring, allowing you to plug in a computer anywhere in your house without sacrificing signal strength.
4. Optimise your PC
Now, this one isn’t strictly related to your home network, but it's still worth mentioning. Your network may be performing well, but you might not notice because your PC is running slowly. Without going into too much detail, some of the easiest steps you can take to speed up your PC include running all available software updates, clearing your browser’s cache, and closing any apps you’re not using.
5. Re-configure your router
Feel free to move past this one if you’re not confident with router settings; fiddling with options you don’t understand can very easily turn a slow network into a broken network – not ideal! However, if you’re happy to tinker, there are quite a few settings you can change to make the most of your broadband connection and improve your network. For example, most routers will default to using one particular Wi-Fi channel (the frequency your network runs on), which can result in signal interference and degradation if your neighbours are all using the same channel on their networks. This is particularly prevalent if you live in flats or apartments. Free Wi-Fi analyser apps are available for your mobile – try scanning when you’re near your router to see which channels are being used in your area. Switching to a less congested channel will give you a faster and more reliable connection.
6. Arrange times for video meetings
Video conferences place a lot of demands on your router and broadband connection. You may struggle to maintain a good connection to a meeting if your family are streaming video or playing games online at the same time. Try and keep video meetings to similar times each day and ask your family to reduce their usage at those times if possible. Alternatively, if your business uses a Berry Technologies Unified Communications system, there are a myriad of other ways to collaborate with your colleagues. Ask yourself if a video conference is necessary – could you achieve your goals using voice chat, screen-sharing or instant messaging?
All of the steps we’ve listed above also apply to office networks. However, as you know, office networks are much, much more complex than most home networks. If any of the above steps work for you at home, it could be time to think about making the same changes in the office once you get back. Berry Technologies provide network design and support services to help your business make the best use of its internet connection, as well as providing broadband connections themselves. Get in touch with the team if you’d like to book a consultation.