How to Increase Signal Strength on a Netgear Router

by Ruri Ranbe

If your computer or mobile device struggles to locate or maintain a connection with your wireless network, your Netgear router might not be producing a strong or stable signal. The performance of the device depends on a lot of things, including the age and model of the router, its location in your home and your network configuration. To troubleshoot your Wi-Fi connectivity, you can try upgrading your Netgear router's hardware or firmware, modifying its wireless frequency or installing additional network equipment.

Change the Wireless Channel

Most models of Netgear router operate on a frequency band of 2.4 GHz, a range shared with many other electronic appliances, including cordless phones, microwave ovens and baby monitors. These appliances can impede the performance of your wireless network by interfering with or reducing the strength of the broadcast signal. To minimize interference, you can try changing your router's wireless channel or switching to another frequency band so that the router communicates over a different signal range. Log in to your router and click the "Advanced" tab. Choose "Setup" from the main menu and then select "Wireless Setup" from the submenu. Select a new channel from under Wireless Network (2.4GHz B/G/N), or check the Name (SSID) field under Wireless Network (5GHz A/N) to see the name of the network operating on the 5-GHz band.

Upgrade the Hardware

Depending on your router's model, you might be able to replace the standard antennas with high gain antennas. These antennas are omni-directional, which means they broadcast a wireless signal in all directions, increasing the effective range of your device. In most cases, installation is simple: just unscrew the old antennas from the router and insert the new antennas in their place. Before you purchase a new set of antennas, however, try unscrewing existing antennas from your router first to make sure you can upgrade.

Upgrade the Firmware

Netgear routers contain firmware, a kind of software embedded in the device that implements and controls the operation of wireless and network protocols. If you've owned your Netgear router for several months or years, upgrading its firmware to the latest version might be enough to bring its performance up to par. To find out if your device is eligible for upgrade, sign in to your router's administration page and click the "Advanced" tab. Choose "Administration" from the main menu and then select "Firmware Upgrade" from the submenu. Click "Check" to search the database for a new version and then click "Yes" or "Upgrade," if applicable, to install the firmware to your router.

Install a Wi-Fi Extender

If the above solutions fail to boost your wireless signal or if you're unable to upgrade to a new set of antennas, you can connect an extender to your router to expand its wireless signal. The device does exactly what its name implies; it extends the broadcast range of your access point. To install a Wi-Fi extender, connect the device to your computer and insert its setup disc into your optical drive. Follow the onscreen instructions to connect the device to your access point, then disconnect the extender from your PC when the process completes.

About the Author

Ruri Ranbe has been working as a writer since 2008. She received an A.A. in English literature from Valencia College and is completing a B.S. in computer science at the University of Central Florida. Ranbe also has more than six years of professional information-technology experience, specializing in computer architecture, operating systems, networking, server administration, virtualization and Web design.

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