How to Improve Speed of a Slow Wireless Network

by Andrew Tennyson

Take a moment to perform a few simple troubleshooting procedures to diagnose and fix a slow wireless network connection. Evaluate and limit traffic on the router, close background computer processes, and relocate your router or computer closer to one another to speed up a slow wireless network. If these actions don't increase your network speed, change your equipment or service to see a speed improvement.

Check Who Is Using the Wi-Fi Connection

Before doing anything else, check who is using the wireless network. Each wireless router has a specific capacity, and the more people who use it at the same time, the slower the network speed will be. If you suspect unwanted users on the network, add a password to protect it or change the existing one.

Disable Background Processes and Network Hogs

Examine which applications and processes on your computer are accessing the Internet. The more that access the Internet at one time, the slower your overall Internet connection becomes. On Windows 8 computers, press “Ctrl-Shift-Esc” to launch the Task Manager. Click “More Details” to see what’s running on the computer. The intensity of the yellow shading indicates how much of the PC’s resources a process or program is using. If you see items that don’t need to be running, select them and click “End Task.” Only close programs and processes you’re sure aren’t important to the operation of the PC.

Relocate Your Computer or Router

The wireless card on your computer, tablet or smartphone has a fixed range. If you try to access a Wi-Fi router from too far away, the Internet slows down. Relocate the device so it is as close to the Wi-Fi router as possible. If you have a desktop computer that can’t be relocated, move the router closer to the computer if you can. When choosing a location for a Wi-Fi router, put it in an open area away from walls and furniture. Also, keep it away from microwaves, refrigerators, metal surfaces, cordless phones, computer monitors and TVs. All of these things can cause interference, which can result in network speed reductions and dropped connections.

Add an Antenna or Repeater

Each Wi-Fi router has a specific range, which can be expanded with an antenna or repeater. Check the router’s documentation to determine whether it’s compatible with available antennas or repeaters; if it is, purchase one and connect it. This solution is particularly helpful if you can’t move the wireless router to a better location. You can also purchase a Wi-Fi extender for your computer to pick up wireless signals from farther away.

Purchase a New Router

While early routers had single antennas, many now have multiple antennas to improve both signal stability and range. If you suspect your router is outdated, purchase a new one. Before doing so, check with your Internet service provider to purchase a router that’s compatible with your Internet service.

Upgrade Your Internet Service

Ask your Internet service provider about upgrading your Internet service. Most major ISPs offer several connection speeds. Upgrade to one of your provider's faster Internet plans or -- if none is available -- switch to an ISP that offers faster Internet service.

About the Author

Andrew Tennyson has been writing about culture, technology, health and a variety of other subjects since 2003. He has been published in The Gazette, DTR and ZCom. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and a Master of Fine Arts in writing.